MIT: Independent Activities Period: IAP

IAP 2017 Activities by Category - Special Events

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Bestial Sense: A Smell and Taste Workshop


Enrollment: Limited: Advance sign-up required
Sign-up by 01/24
Limited to 25 participants
Attendance: Participants must attend all sessions
Prereq: 21+; Please bring your ID

There is now a wait-list for this workshop. Please email the organizer if you would like to be on the waitlist.

"Bestial sense" engages the nose and the tongue. It explores two sensory engagements with the world that are said to be more animalistic, visceral, and less understood when compared to sight and hearing. This workshop will try to refute a hypothesis: That smelling and tasting are some of the most arbitrary, private, and subjective sensory modes of experiencing the world. Participants in the workshop will learn a little bit about these senses -- their histories, industries, aesthetics, and sciences -- before participating in an experiment that involves collective smelling and tasting. If, as anthropologists argue, that the senses are indeed social, then by the end of our workshop, we should be able to have produced a local MIT culture of smell-tasting/taste-smelling. 

In this workshop, you will have the opportunity to smell and taste different things, including everyday items, food, wine, and fragrances (as well as some surprising concoctions!). You will be introduced to a few techniques for smelling and tasting, including those practised by perfumers and oenologists, and to other less conventional methods. Please bring your own methods or observations about how you (and other animals) smell and taste! The experiment will run throughout the two days so participation on both days is expected.

Sponsor(s): Science, Technology, and Society
Contact: Jia-Hui Lee, E51-075, 617-888-4343, JIAHUI@MIT.EDU

Nosing Around

Jan/25 Wed 02:00PM-05:00PM Compton Gly, Bldg10, Be 21+ and please bring ID

For the first session, we focus on smelling. Bring your noses.


Tongue Twister

Jan/26 Thu 02:00PM-05:00PM Compton Gly, Bldg10, Be 21+ and please bring ID.

For our second session, we engage our taste buds!


BON VOYAGE: Leaving Faith on Good Terms

Sebastian Garza, Secular Society of MIT, President, Sohan Dsouza, Secular Society of MIT, Editor of The Reason Review, Adam Reynolds, Blue Ocean Faith Chaplain

Feb/01 Wed 07:00PM-09:00PM TBD

Enrollment: Unlimited: Advance sign-up required
Sign-up by 01/30

MIT is a place of discovery; sometimes we discover that that our beliefs and values have shifted. Maybe we even find ourselves shedding one identity and embracing another. A significant chunk of people at MIT are leaving or have left Christianity to explore and embrace a more secular approach to life. For some this transition may happen naturally and smoothly; for others it may be significantly difficult and painful.

The exit process is often made worse by things like preachy, dogmatic threats of eternal punishment, social ostracism, severed friendships and lots of attempts to persuade and argue instead of sincere listening. Arrogance, self-righteousness and certitude leave little room for honest doubt, healthy skepticism and true exploration of what’s compelling and meaningful.

In this special IAP event, the Secular Society of MIT will offer a warm welcome into community to those exploring secularism while one of MIT’s Christian chaplains will offer parting words of blessing and affirmation to those whose authentic journey is leading them out of Christianity. There will also be a time for sharing stories of leaving faith and offering support for those who are in a spiritual transition or contemplating one.


You can register for this event here.


Sponsor(s): Secular Society of MIT, Blue Ocean Faith
Contact: Adam Reynolds, ADAM1@MIT.EDU


Ruth Levitsky

Feb/02 Thu 12:30PM-01:30PM 4-237

Enrollment: Unlimited: No advance sign-up

Move over spelling bee. Just because you can spell a word doesn’t mean you know how to use it. From the editors of The American Heritage Dictionary comes the Define-a-Thon, a competitive word challenge.

Come see the best definers at MIT. Open to all in the MIT community: students, staff, faculty.

To compete, sign up here:

Audience members who are not competing, just drop in.  No need to sign up.  

Our word caller is Toastmaster Mary Agnes Mullowney.




Contact: Ruth Levitsky, E52-415, 617 253-3399, LEVITSKY@MIT.EDU

Departmental Exploration (DEX)

Shauna Peterson, Staff Associate, Amgen Scholars, Meghan Kenney, Assistant Dean, New Student Programming

Enrollment: Unlimited: No advance sign-up
Attendance: Participants welcome at individual sessions

First-year students, have you picked your passion yet? Don't miss this series of departmental exploration (DEX) events sponsored by the Office of Undergraduate Advising and Academic Programming.

DEX will be a structured time at the end of IAP for academic discovery that will allow students to experience what it’s like to be an undergrad in various department. Events include: student panels, open houses and showcases of projects and research. Each day there will be at least one topic panel featuring students and faculty from departments listed who will speak about their in and out of class experiences studying and teaching in this department.

Events will take place from January 30 - February 3. No sign up is necessary, just come to whatever sessions you are most interested in!

Monday, January 30: Technological Engineering, featuring Courses 1, 3, 6-1, 16 and 22

Tuesday, January 31: Chemistry & Chemical Engineering, Biology & Biological Engineering, featuring Courses 3, 5, 7, 9, and 10

Wednesday, February 1: Economics & Management, Design & Infrastructure, Politics & Policy, featuring Courses 11, 14, 15, and 17

Thursday, February 2: Math, Physics, & Computer Science, featuring Courses 6, 8, and 18

Friday, February 3: Choice of Major Open House

Sponsor(s): Office of Undergrad. Advising/Academic Programming
Contact: Shauna Peterson, 7-104, 617-324-8128,

CEE: Hands-on Research w/ Global Impact

Jan/30 Mon 11:45AM-12:45PM 1-131

Civil & Environmental Engineering identifies natural & manmade problems & finds creative solutions with a global impact. Our students travel the globe to find sustainable solutions to some of society's biggest challenges, including: climate change, air quality and infrastructure stability. Join us for lunch to learn more about our hands-on undergraduate research opportunities and the exciting places that CEE can take you.

Technological Engineering Topics Panel

Jan/30 Mon 01:00PM-02:00PM 10-105

Featuring courses 1, 3, 6-1, 16, and 22

Chemistry Topics Panel

Jan/31 Tue 11:00AM-12:00PM 32-124

Featuring courses 3 and 5

Neuroscience & Biology Topics Panel

Jan/31 Tue 12:00PM-01:00PM 32-124

Featuring courses 3, 7, and 9

ChemE Research Day

Jan/31 Tue 01:00PM-03:00PM Stata Lobby

Come learn about exciting new research coming out of the Chemical Engineering labs at MIT and learn a bit more about what it's like to be in the department! Refreshments including delicious bubble tea will be provided.

ClubChem Presentation

Jan/31 Tue 01:30PM-02:00PM 2-135

Featuring course 5

DMSE Lab Tour

Jan/31 Tue 03:00PM-04:00PM 4-131b

Lab tour for the Department of Materials Science & Engineering

ChemE Panel

Jan/31 Tue 03:00PM-04:00PM 32-124

Panel of Course 10 students and faculty

Biology Faculty Panel

Jan/31 Tue 05:00PM-06:00PM 32-124

Interested in Biology and hoping to make the most of Course 7? Come learn more about Biology classes and opportunities from current students and faculty. Refreshments will be served.

Economics Topics Panel

Feb/01 Wed 12:00PM-01:00PM 32-155

Featuring course 14

Management Topics Panel

Feb/01 Wed 01:00PM-02:00PM 32-155

Featuring course 15

Politics, Pub. Policy, Law & Stats Panel

Feb/01 Wed 02:00PM-03:00PM 32-155

Politics, Public Policy, Law, and Social Science Statistics Panel featuring course 17

DMSE Lab Tour

Feb/01 Wed 03:00PM-04:00PM 4-131b

Lab tour for the Department of Materials Science & Engineering

Explore Urban Studies & Planning

Feb/01 Wed 03:30PM-05:00PM 9-255

Meet students and faculty in course 11, learn about cutting edge research and practice in urban planning, and discover how you can get involved. Refreshments provided.

Math, Physics, & Comp Sci Panel

Feb/02 Thu 01:00PM-02:00PM 32-144

Featuring courses 6 and 18

Course 16/AeroAstro Tour

Feb/02 Thu 01:00PM-02:00PM In front of 33-202

A tour of the Wright Brothers Wind Tunnel ( and Student Projects Lab, Thursday February 2, 2017, 1-2 pm,  starting in front of Room 33-202.  If you are interested in the tour but can't make it on Thursday, please contact Joe Figura '17 at or 224(772-4281).

All about UROP: Student Panel

Feb/02 Thu 03:00PM-04:00PM 4-237

Come learn about all aspects of the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) at MIT, including how to participate, what type of research is available, and more. Panel will be current MIT undergraduates participating in UROPs across campus.

Course 1 Mini UROP Presentations

Feb/03 Fri 12:00PM-01:00PM 1-390

Over IAP, freshmen students have had the opportunity to learn more about the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering by working hands-on in our labs with graduate students or postdocs. Get a taste of the current research that¿s happening in CEE, meet some of our faculty and students and see what our freshmen mini-UROPers have been working on. Lunch will be served.

Choosing your Major Drop-In Hours

Feb/03 Fri 01:00PM-03:00PM 7-103

Still not sure what you want to major in?  Trying to decide between 2 (or 3 or 4) departments? Stop by 7-103 to chat with current Associate Advisors and UAAP staff to talk it out!  Snacks provided.

Dive-In Movie

Jan/29 Sun 08:30PM-11:00PM Zesiger Center Pool, children may complete swim test 30 min prior

Enrollment: Limited: First come, first served (no advance sign-up)
Limited to 350 participants

Join the Division of Student Life for a free screening of Finding Dory on the scoreboard at the Zesiger Recreation pool. Inner tubes will be provided for pool lounging for the ultimate movie-watching experience!  Burritos, snacks, popcorn and non-alcoholic drinks will also be provided.

Sponsor(s): Athletics, Physical Education , Mind Hand Heart
Contact: Karissa Bollinger, KARISSAB@MIT.EDU

Dynamics of Real Estate Development in China: Theory and Education

Xin Zhang, PhD candidate

Enrollment: Limited: First come, first served (no advance sign-up)
Limited to 50 participants
Attendance: Participants welcome at individual sessions

The lecture focuses on real estate market discussion from three perspectives: “Uncertainty” (Quantifying Future Value Uncertainty in Development Projects), “Flexibility” (Flexibility in Design in Large Scale Real Estate Projects), and “Methodology” (System Dynamics Analysis on Chinese Urban Housing Market). Each section will take 1.5 Hours. Lunch will be provided at noon time and coffee will be provided in the afternoon.

Sponsor(s): Urban Studies and Planning, Center for Real Estate Development, MIT China Program
Contact: Xin Zhang, (202) 281-4718,

Quantifying Future Value Uncertainty

Jan/17 Tue 10:30AM-12:00PM 9-354

Introduce the concept of real estate system, identify the sources of asset value uncertainty and its variation over time, discuss empirically the evidence about such uncertainty, and modeling in Excel.

Prof David Geltner

Flexibility in Design

Jan/17 Tue 01:00PM-02:30PM 9-354

Introduce the typology of large scale real estate development flexibility options with case studies, including delay option, phasing option, expansion option, etc. 

Prof Richard de Neufville, Xin Zhang - PhD candidate

Potential Housing Bubble in China

Jan/17 Tue 03:00PM-04:30PM 9-354

This session analyzes the potential housing bubble in Chinese urban housing market through the lens of a System Dynamics model. The goal is to demonstrate in casuality structure how non-economic features under certain conditions can become bubble self-feeding mechanisms and lead to escalating price behavior. 

Xin Zhang - PhD candidate

Greetings from Cambridge

Greg Batcheler, Assistant Director, Academic Departments, Alumni Association

Jan/11 Wed 11:00AM-02:00PM 10-105

Enrollment: Unlimited: No advance sign-up

If you’re on campus this winter, grab a snack and send a postcard to family, friends, or classmates! We’ll drop them in the mail courtesy of the MIT Alumni Association.

We'll have hot chocolate, apple cider, cookies, and fruit, as well as postcards and pens for you to write a note to friends.

Free and open to the MIT community -- families are welcome!

Please bring your MIT ID.

Sponsor(s): Alumni Association
Contact: Elena Byrne, W98-206C, 617 252-1143, EBYRNE@MIT.EDU

Maps - Yes, the Libraries have maps

Michael M Noga, Earth and Planetary Sciences Librarian

Feb/03 Fri 01:00PM-03:00PM 7-238

Enrollment: Unlimited: Advance sign-up required
Sign-up by 02/02
Prereq: none

Come on a fun tour of the two main map collections in the Libraries.  We will start in the Rotch Library and then travel to the Hayden Map Collection.   You will see the type of maps in the collections, how to find them, and how to use them.

Also, you can participate in a map quiz.   There will be snacks and map giveaways.

Please register ahead of time here.

Sponsor(s): Libraries
Contact: Michael Noga, 14S-222, 617 253-1290, MNOGA@MIT.EDU

Mars Settlement Workshop, Mission Design

Bruce Mackenzie, Mars Foundation

Jan/11 Wed 03:00PM-05:00PM E51-390
Jan/13 Fri 03:00PM-05:00PM E62-221
Jan/18 Wed 03:00PM-05:00PM E62-221
Jan/20 Fri 03:00PM-05:00PM E62-221

Enrollment: Limited: First come, first served (no advance sign-up)
Limited to 16 participants
Attendance: Repeating event, participants welcome at any session

Want to open up a new world to live in?

Help create a technical plan to start flexible manufacturing and
growing food on Mars, using materials made on Mars (in-situ),
with minimum equipment brought from Earth.

Details will be worked out by you, the participants, but may include
3D printing, recycling and
production of polymers on-site, production of other building
materials, and on-site assembly of habitats and greenhouses. Portions
can be adapted from past designs by the Mars Foundation and other

If there is interest, we can include Mars rover design, social,
economic, political aspects, and suggestions for a business plan.

Please contact us early, if possible,
even if you cannot attend at these times.
This will help us schedule additional sessions,
and provide you background material.

Attendance at most sessions is expected.
Additional design sessions will be scheduled at your

The first two weeks of IAP will be for designing the overall mission plan.
You can join the follow on workshop during the third and fourth weeks
for more detailed design of various systems.

Sponsor(s): Astropreneurship and Space Industry Club, Students for Exploration and Development of Space, Mars Society
Contact: Bruce Mackenzie,

Pre-screening of Richard Leacock's unfinished film "November Actions"

Deborah Douglas, Curator of Science and Technology, MIT Museum

Jan/16 Mon 02:00PM-04:00PM 6-120

Enrollment: For MIT community only; RSVP required to

November Actions is a detailed depiction of a distinctive and significant campus protest incident at MIT in the fall of 1969. Produced by Richard Leacock, a well-known, innovative documentary filmmaker and former MIT professor, it is, arguably, the most important film ever produced about MIT. Few have ever seen it because shortly after completing the rough cut, Leacock found an anonymous note suggesting he was a “lackey” of the administration. In 1994, Professor Glorianna Davenport transferred the large collection of November Actions negatives, work prints, rough cuts and sound tracks to the MIT Museum. In 2010, when the MIT Museum was preparing its major MIT150 Exhibition, Davenport and another Leacock student and colleague, Brian Bradley proposed the idea of restoring the work. It was a spectacular idea but even better because Leacock himself agreed to allow them to finish the film for release. Lacking funding, the Museum prepared four short excerpts that were included in the exhibition. The MIT Museum has now secured the funds to complete the project and has plans to premier a “finished” version this June. Open to members of the MIT community only, including spouses & partners and alumni, this pre-screening is a unique opportunity see an extremely rare museum artifact depicting firsthand a very dramatic moment in both MIT’s and U.S. history. 

Sponsor(s): MIT Museum, Science, Technology, and Society
Contact: Deborah Douglas, N51 (MIT Museum), 617-253-1766,

Splash for Us 2017

Daniel Guo, Riley Drake

Jan/25 Wed 07:00PM-09:00PM 56, Floor 1

Enrollment: Unlimited: No advance sign-up

Splash for Us is a one-evening IAP event where MIT students present unusual, entertaining, edifying, and occasionally ridiculous lectures on a variety of topics. Come to teach, learn, or do both!

Classes vary in length from five minutes to two hours. Multiple classes run simultaneously, so you can choose whichever sounds most interesting.   Topics will range from the obscure triviliaties to fast-paced physica.  Free pizza and snacks will be provided. 

No prior registration required. 

Sponsor(s): Educational Studies Program
Contact: Riley Drake, (617) 571-8879,

The Startup Code 2017 - The Fastest Ways to Grow Your Startup into a Successful Thriving Business

Andrew Percey '95, MNG '96, Founder, Prometheus Internet Marketing

Jan/24 Tue 10:00AM-04:00PM 32-155

Enrollment: Limited: Advance sign-up required
Limited to 90 participants

80% of Startups fail before their second birthday. This is because people build boring "Me Too" businesses and expect the crowds to flock. According to The New York Times, we get exposed to around 5,000 sales and marketing messages every day. We live in a very noisy world full of established businesses and hungry startups all fighting for the same precious customer eyeballs. This is why your business needs to STAND OUT and be different, if you want it to survive and thrive.
See full details at the main event website.

This seminar will be presented by:
•    Andrew Percey '95, MNG '96, Google AdWords expert, founder of Prometheus Internet Marketing and advisor to the MIT Venture Mentoring Service (VMS)
•    Kenny Goodman, business growth mentor and founder of Find The Edge
•    Kevin Hart, Creative Director and partner at HB/EMA Boston
•    Nick Salvatoriello, HubSpot Trainer and Principal at Nick Sal Inbound Consulting
•    Adrienne Richardson, Facebook Guru and Owner of ARE Media
•    Andrea Warner, President/CMO of Haven Warner, Past-President of

*a light lunch will be provided from noon to 1:00 p.m. generously sponsored by McDougal Architects  and Tempus Fugit Law

Register today!

Contact: Elena Byrne, W98-206C, 617 252-1143, EBYRNE@MIT.EDU

Tour of Wallace Astrophysical Observatory

Michael J Person

Feb/02 Thu 06:30PM-11:00PM Wallace Observatory, Dress Warmly

Enrollment: Limited: Advance sign-up required

Come tour the heavens at MIT's George R. Wallace Jr. Astrophysical Observatory located 45 minutes northwest of Boston in Westford, MA. Use various telescopes from 14" to 24" for both visual observing and electronic imaging of the moon, stars, and other celestial bodies. Required signup via website:

Sponsor(s): Wallace Astrophysical Observatory, Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences
Contact: Michael J Person,

Winter School

MITOC Winter School Leaders

Enrollment: Unlimited: No advance sign-up
Attendance: Lectures 1 and 2 (Jan 10, 12) are mandatory for weekend trips
Prereq: None


Winter School is MIT Outing Club's annual winter extravaganza! Every weekend of IAP, you’ll have the opportunity to get outdoors and enjoy the wilderness in the cold. Activities include hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, and ice climbing. Whether you've never been on a hike before or are a seasoned pro who likes to share your love for the outdoors, WS is the opportunity to expand your outdoor experience and meet amazing people while doing it!

More information is available here


Winter School is open to anyone who hopes to enjoy the outdoors during the winter! Absolutely no prior experience is necessary. We will teach you all you need to know to stay safe and have fun when the temps are low.


Trips: Held each weekend of IAP. Typically go up to the White Mountains in New Hampshire.

Required Lectures: Tuesday January 10th and 12th at 7pm in 10-250

Optional Instructional Lectures: January 17th and 19th at 7pm in 6-120

Guest Lectures: January 24th, 26th, 31st and February 2nd at 7pm in 6-120

How do I join?

You must attend the first two required lectures: January 10th and 12th at 7pm in 10-250. No advance signup is necessary. 

What gear do I need?

MITOC offers rentals for almost all of the gear you need at or below cost and we will tell you how you can get the remainder on the cheap. 


Please email the Winter School chairs at and we will be happy to help.

Sponsor(s): Outing Club
Contact: David Johnson, David Migl,

Lecture 1 (mandatory)

Jan/10 Tue 07:00PM-09:00PM 10-250

This lecture will cover winter safety, the basics of winter gear, food to bring on a winter hike, and MITOC policies.

Lecture 2 (mandatory)

Jan/12 Thu 07:00PM-09:00PM 10-250

This lecture will cover winter hiking basics, navigation, weather, winter driving, and gear rental.

Weekend Trips

Jan/14 Sat 12:00AM-11:30PM White Mountains, NH
Jan/15 Sun 12:00AM-11:30PM White Mountains, NH
Jan/16 Mon 12:00AM-11:30PM White Mountains, NH
Jan/21 Sat 12:00AM-11:30PM White Mountains, NH
Jan/22 Sun 12:00AM-11:30PM White Mountains, NH
Jan/28 Sat 12:00AM-11:30PM White Mountains, NH
Jan/29 Sun 12:00AM-11:30PM White Mountains, NH
Feb/04 Sat 12:00AM-11:30PM White Mountains, NH
Feb/05 Sun 12:00AM-11:30PM White Mountains, NH

The fun part of Winter School--hiking, climbing, and skiing trips in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. There will be multiple trips each day at various levels of difficulty; signups are by lottery. You can come on one trip or go out every weekend--up to you!

Lecture 3

Jan/17 Tue 07:00PM-09:00PM 6-120

This lecture will cover above treeline travel, skiing, ice climbing, avalanches, objective hazard management, and winter safety.

Lecture 4

Jan/19 Thu 07:00PM-09:00PM 6-120

This lecture will cover all the information you need to know about winter overnights, such as winter camping site selection, stoves, tents, snow shelters, and sleeping bags.

Lecture 5

Jan/24 Tue 07:00PM-09:00PM 6-120

Guest Speaker: Nick Aiello

Nick is a guide at Synnott Mountain Guides and a member of the NH Mountain Rescue Service. He will talk about winter safety incidents that he has been involved in, as well as his personal trips to Mt. Rainier and in the Central Alaska Range's Ruth Glacier, and tips for planning low-budget trips.

Lecture 6

Jan/26 Thu 07:00PM-09:00PM 6-120

Guest Speaker: Rick Wilcox

Rick Wilcox is an accomplished mountaineer, owner of International Mountain Equipment, and president of the NH Mountain Rescue Service (MRS). He will share stories from the MRS, talk about winter safety, and share pictures from his many expeditions to the Himalaya.

Lecture 7

Jan/31 Tue 07:00PM-09:00PM 6-120

Guest Speaker: Philip Werner

Philip Werner will give a workshop on navigation, from the basics of using a map and compass to advanced topics in off-trail navigation. Phil is an accomplished day hiker, backpacker, bushwhacker, and 4-season leader for the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC). He runs the website, where he shares gear reviews and writes comprehensively on backpacking and day hiking skills.

Lecture 8

Feb/02 Thu 07:00PM-09:00PM 6-120

Guest Speaker: Eric Gilbertson and Matt Gilbertson

Eric and Matt Gilbertson will share tales from their expeditions to climb Mt. Shkhara, the country of Georgia¿s highpoint, and Mt. Logan, the Canada high point. Eric and Matt are MIT alumni and have summited the high points of all 23 North American countries. They are currently on a quest to summit the high points of all 195 countries in the world.

World Music Hangout

Cate Gallivan, project assistant, Lewis Music Library

Jan/26 Thu 12:00PM-01:30PM 14E-109, Bring your instrument

Enrollment: Unlimited: Advance sign-up required
Sign-up by 01/25
Prereq: none

The Lewis Music Library invites you to come join us!

Hang out, bring your instrument, or play our piano

Sponsor(s): Libraries
Contact: Catherine Gallivan, 14E-109, 617 253-7389, CATEGAL@MIT.EDU