The School of Engineering at MIT has a long and rich history with no shortage of success stories. These successes, however, are often preceded by failures, and countless trials and errors. Always, though, a sense of perseverance seems to permeate the culture of the school.
Innovators, investors, and entrepreneurs worldwide are waiting on news of the first companies chosen to be part of The Engine. Founded by MIT, The Engine is a combination of long-term investment, resources, and services for founders working on “tough tech” that prioritizes high-impact solutions to big problems over early profits. This summer a group of MIT students got a taste of what it’s like to be inside The Engine’s space in Central Square, near the MIT campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. They may not be members of The Engine’s first cohort of startups, but they still had a chance to warm up the space, so to speak, for those chosen.
Vazrik Chiloyan, an instructor for the MIT Shotokan Karate Club, developed a love for karate nearly a decade ago. Since then, Chiloyan, a graduate student in mechanical engineering, has earned a second-degree black belt. Shotokan karate, he says, is one of the most beautiful things he has ever studied.
A few hours after they received their MIT diplomas on the Institute’s famed Killian Court, 12 young women and men stood on the deck of the USS Constitution to receive commissions in the U.S. military. “You embody the best of MIT,” MIT President L. Rafael Reif told the new crop of surface warfare officers, pilots, flight officers, reactor and developmental engineers, ordnance officers, aircraft maintenance officers, and medical physicians.
Alissa Michelle Earle is rehearsing in front of her class. She stands before a presentation slide, and reads: “Mission Motivation: Apophis is coming!”
With hundreds of clubs and teams to join at MIT, students with varied interests will find that there is no shortage of activities to take part in on campus. Kelly Mathesius, a senior aerospace engineering major, is a prime example of a busy student whose involvement on campus really runs the gamut. When not in class or studying, Mathesius divides her time working on the rocket team, serving as captain of the riffle team, and solving a favorite retro puzzle as the co-founder of the Rubik’s Cube Club.
On a field trip, Harriet Ritvo and her MIT students went to look at preserved animals on public display, or stored as lab specimens, in collections housed at Harvard University. They encountered hundreds of species, some up close: touching the wings of a pickled bat, the silky fur of a mink, and the sharp claws of a lynx and a lion.
“In my lab, we bridge a gap,” says Hadley Sikes. “We try to figure out how to take established science and implement it in clinical practice in a reliable, easy and cost-effective way.”
On an afternoon in early April, Tommi Jaakkola is pacing at the front of the vast auditorium that is 26-100. The chalkboards behind him are covered with equations. Jaakkola looks relaxed in a short-sleeved black shirt and jeans, and gestures to the board. “What is the answer here?” he asks the 500 MIT students before him. “If you answer, you get a chocolate. If nobody answers, I get one — because I knew the answer and you didn’t.” The room erupts in laugher.
Each spring, the MIT Ballroom Dance Team hosts the MIT Open Ballroom Competition — the largest collegiate competition in the country. Nearly 1,000 dancers from dozens of universities pack Rockwell Cage and strive to deliver, according to MIT team captain Corey Cleveland, something truly individual.