Studying these cells could lead to new treatments for diseases ranging from gastrointestinal disease to diabetes.
MIT has been a family affair for Nima and Sanjay Subramanian. This year it's Nima's turn to graduate from the Leaders for Manufacturing Program. Next year it will be Sanjay's.
It's a little early for their son, Ashwin, to earn a degree. He's only 4. But, he'll have his own goodbyes to say at the Technology Children's Center (TCC).
"It's funny, the three of us, we get up in the morning and we're all going to school," Sanjay said.
The Subramanians say that life at MIT has been challenging, hectic and fun. "My class has been so instrumental in making me who I am two years later," Nima said. "I would say that these last two years have been transformative."
Sanjay agreed that school has been a great experience. "The different personalities are a lot of fun. I'm going to miss the whole network of friends," he said.
But both admit that raising a small child while going to school is "not a cakewalk," as Nima put it. Balancing each other's schedules has been a big challenge, but the couple has managed with a little help from their friends. In addition to the day care at TCC, they have had the support of their classmates, Nima said.
Living at Eastgate has also made things easier. "It's the shortest commute I've ever had in my entire life. I'm going to really miss that," Sanjay said.
Originally from India, Sanjay and Nima met at Ohio State University while earning their first master's degrees. Coincidentally, they already had the same last name. They were married in 1999.
Fate may have brought them together, but Google brought them to MIT.
"I went to Google and typed 'leaders' and 'manufacturing' and it brought up Leaders for Manufacturing," Nima said. The program, which allows students to earn master's degrees in both management and engineering in two years, sounded perfect to her.
The year after Nima started at LFM, Sanjay applied--drawn in by Nima's experiences.
"It's one thing to know about the program, but I got to see it through Nima's eyes," Sanjay said.
"We hadn't talking about him applying, but he saw how much fun I was having," Nima said. "I was learning from everyone in the class. They're very smart--not just on the technical front but also on the managerial front."
Nima said she expects to miss the camaraderie of the program when she returns to work. After graduation, she plans to start a new job in Boeing's program management group. Sanjay will be saying goodbye to MIT as well--at least for a little while. He is going to do his mandatory 6.5-month LFM internship at Boeing, investigating the company's global operations strategy. The family is moving to Seattle this month.
Sanjay will be back at MIT in spring 2008 to finish his degree, but chances are that Ashwin won't be back at TCC. And that's a little sad, Sanjay said. "The other kids in the program are also from all over the world. It's a very beautiful mix of people from different cultures."
Just like MIT.