Chris Colombo, Dean for Student Life

I am MIT’s Dean for Student Life, not a writer. But when the Alumni Association asked me to be a regular contributor to this blog—today is my first post—I had an atypical type of writer’s block.

I wasn’t worried about being unable to write. Rather, there was too much to write about. How could I choose a subject from all the astonishing, inspiring, and unique things that happen every day in the Division of Student Life ?

After just over a year here, I realize it’s a problem that’s not likely to go away. So my goal is to share with you, over time, as many great stories as I can from the MIT community. First up: the Hobby Shop.

When I arrived at the Institute, I was tickled to learn that my division was home to an Omax Jet Machining Center, an Oscillating Drum Sander, and two Bridgeport Vertical Milling Machines, among other equipment. They’re just not the sorts of things most university deans have under their purview. The Hobby Shop is certainly an unusual resource in higher education—and by any standard it is having an unusually remarkable year:

Hobby Shop Engagement. Photo courtesy Kate McElwee

Hobby Shop Engagement. Photo courtesy Kate McElwee

The Hobby Shop is a special place, but you don’t have to take my word for it. Just ask Theis Clarke SM ’04, PhD ’08 and Catherine Lee, who works in the MIT investment management office. Theis and Catherine were in the basement of W31 last week with a photographer to take their engagement photos because the Hobby Shop is where they met. At a chisel mortiser.

They’ll be married next summer right around the time of the furniture conference. We wish them well, even though we know we don’t have to: things made in the Hobby Shop are built to last.