Engineering Our WorldThe e-newsletter of the MIT School of Engineering

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Vol. 2, No. 1, January 2005

Welcome to Engineering Our World, the MIT School of Engineering's free bulletin for alumni and friends. Updated six times yearly, Engineering Our World describes some of the work we're doing at the leading edge of technological change, providing news and articles of the School's major initiatives.

Summary of readership survey results-

With the completion in November 2004 of our first year of issues, we asked our readers to take a few minutes to complete a short survey about ENGINEERING OUR WORLD. Thank you to all who offered opinions! Read a short summary of some of our findings.

Past Issues

The Promise of Technology-Enabled Education

by Dean Thomas L. Magnanti

On August 26, 2004, the MIT Corporation elected Dr. Susan Hockfield, a distinguished neuroscientist and Provost of Yale University, the 16th president of MIT. Shortly before she took office on December 6, Dean Tom Magnanti spoke with her about some of her initial thoughts on the current status and future of the Institute and of Engineering.

First Impressions of MIT / Engineering

Tom Magnanti: MIT is clearly a bit different from Yale. Are you experiencing any kind of a "culture shock" here at the Institute?

Susan Hockfield: No, I don't think so. However, there is something that I'm calling the "information cost" that occurs when you go to a new place, regardless of what that new place is. So as I move from one university to another, I have tried to pay at least some of that information cost by spending a lot of time with people to learn about the Institute before I take office.

TM: So the fact that we refer to everything here by a number, like "Building 41" or "Course 6" . . .

SH: Well, yes, everything here is a number, but I'll learn the translation. More challenging than that, however, is actually learning what is in Building 36 and understanding where the people are, mapping the people to the geography of numbers and disciplines. Some days I feel that I'm making progress, and other days, I feel as if I'm throwing pebbles into the Grand Canyon. The incredible energy of the place is what strikes me most. A friend of mine once described Silicon Valley as a place where everyone seems to be carrying an extra battery pack. That's the way I feel about MIT – a place that's very energetic, tremendously intelligent, where people have a lot of passion. It's wonderful.

TM: So, you've been trying to soak up MIT, "drinking from the firehose," as we say. Has anything in particular surprised you about the School of Engineering? . . .