Not for me.

I’m taking two classes at Harvard this semester: one is an Organic Chemistry II class with lab component (MIT doesn’t offer Organic II in the Spring) and the other is a Neurological Diseases class at Harvard Med. The first class is interesting but Organic Chemistry and I don’t exactly get along…the second is extremely cool and features awesome weekly patient presentations. However, one drawback to taking classes at Harvard is travel time. I need to go back and forth to Harvard’s main campus 4x per week and Longwood 2x per week.

But perhaps the worst feature of this arrangement is that MIT and Harvard’s Spring Breaks didn’t happen to coincide this year. So while I am in dreary Cambridge on this lovely Monday night…

sixteen of my friends are in Cancun. I’m a little heartbroken, but I digress.

Funny story: a few weeks ago MIT’s Camp Kesem coordinators traveled to LA for a national conference.

We had a blast meeting the 20+ other college teams, but perhaps my favorite part of the conference was the very first night. Each school had to prepare a skit for a giant talent show, and we decided to do a parody of what attending Camp Kesem at MIT is like. We pretended that we taught the kids Bernoulli’s equation before they could swim in the lake, weeded out camper applicants based on their 4th-grade GPAs, separated into teams named “the enzymes” and “the substrates” and sang the MIT fight song instead of traditional camp songs. The 200+ crowd roared and cheered at the end, the judges said that it was “too hard to choose a winner but…MIT, you guys were hysterical.” For the rest of the conference, we were repeatedly approached about the hilarity of our skit. We felt like rock stars, and so at our first CK MIT training session back in Cambridge, the coordinators decided to perform our skit for the MIT counselors, anticipating an even better result.

No one laughed.

At first, we were confused and dejected. Then, we realized what had happened. The counselors found Bernoulli’s equation, slide rule quips, enzyme/substrate teams…

entirely normal.    …

I love MIT.

MIT Alumni Travel Program travelers to Sedona and the Grand Canyon found a dome to call their own.

MIT Alumni Travel Program travelers to Sedona and the Grand Canyon found a dome to call their own.

The MIT community extends far and wide beyond the Cambridge campus. You’ve probably felt it. The lure of a geektacular encounter or shared inspiration over a problem others in the real world deem insurmountable. Or maybe a technical marvel that began in an MIT lab or research center and now finds an enthusiastic audience with non-MITers. Those instances that feel so MIT despite your distance from campus.

Photograph people, places, or things reminiscent of MIT culture or impacted by MIT and enter it in the MIT Around the World photo contest.

Some other ideas for photos:

  • MIT’s Mens et Manus (mind & hand) motto applied to practical problems
  • the industrious beaver
  • impact of science and technology in the world
  • innovation and entrepreneurship
  • prankster spirit exemplified by the tradition of MIT Hacks
  • structures reminiscent of MIT’s architectural icons or built by MIT architects

The first-place winner can choose one of the following prizes: a $500 discount on any future trip sponsored by the MIT Alumni Travel Program, a Flip Video Mino HD, or a $200 Mpix gift card. The winning photo will also be featured on the Alumni Association homepage and displayed in the MIT Alumni Travel Program’s 2011 Explorer catalogue. The second place winner will receive a $100 Mpix gift card and have their photo displayed in the 2011 Explorer brochure. This contest is open to all MIT alumni and past MIT Alumni Travel Program travelers and ends May 16, 2010.

Read all the details.

If you’re feeling really adventurous, you could even kill the proverbial two birds and submit a short video of a Hack @ Home and photograph it for the photo contest. I’m just sayin’…

See for yourself how far-reaching the MIT connection is with PlanetMIT, A Global Community Atlas. Click the pins and you’ll easily find alumni, student, volunteer, and parent populations; MIT clubs; Enterprise Forum chapters; and area representatives with links to their listings in the Online Alumni Directory. Red pins indicate areas where there is an official MIT alumni presence.

PlanetMIT: A Global Community Atlas

Check out PlanetMIT: A Global Community Atlas.

Check out places you live and travel to—you’ll discover an MIT community likely awaits. Want to find entrepreneurs in the Middle East? No problem. Just look for the MIT Enterprise Forum chapters. Curious how many MITers live on Mauritius or how many MIT clubs there are in California? Look no further.


Guest blogger: Yiliu Zhang ’13

My name is Yiliu Zhang, a freshman planning on majoring in political science. I am spending my IAP in Madrid, Spain, as a participant of MIT’s IAP-Madrid program. Every weekday morning, I have Spanish class for three hours, and then I’m free to explore the city. Learning a language is a nice break from working on problem sets! In the evenings, my fellow program participants and I typically eat dinner with our respective host families. Afterwards, we head out to experience Madrid’s nightlife, which begins and ends much later than in the United States.

Yiliu in Granada in southern Spain

Last weekend, Yiliu and six others toured Granada in southern Spain. The town is most famous for the Alhambra, a Moorish fortification and palace. Pictured, Yiliu against the backdrop of the city, where the homes are whitewashed to cool the houses during summer.

My host family only speaks Spanish to me, and my Spanish listening and speaking skills have definitely improved as a result. And my host grandmother’s cooking is phenomenal! Her tortilla Española and cauliflower cream casserole are amazing.

As an MIT student, I am fortunate to study in an institute of science and technology. I’m also excited about opportunities in the humanities such as the IAP-Madrid program. My classmates and I made the best of our allotted time to fully experience the Spanish culture. The highlights of the trip for me were visiting the Prado museum (seeing Velázquez and Bosch paintings especially), visiting the Reina Sofia contemporary art museum (Picasso’s Guernica was very impressive), walking through the city of Madrid, admiring the Moorish fortification Alhambra in Granada, and discussing American foreign policy and Spanish economic issues with my host mother and host grandmother.

Some of the IAP-Madrid participants

Some of the IAP-Madrid participants.

I truly believe you have to immerse yourself in a culture to genuinely love and understand it. For me, studying abroad in Spain has been as much about discovering the Spanish culture as expanding my perspective. For instance, my host mother and I had a long chat one night about the field of humanitarian law and international development. Also, my host grandmother loves to berate Zapatero, the Spanish president, whenever I mention politics. When I was shopping in a store owned by a Chinese immigrant, I had an interesting conversation about being a Chinese immigrant in Spain. Even though the museum artworks and the public parks are gorgeous, I think the people I’ve met in Spain have affected me more.

In short, I feel more like a global citizen after immersing myself in the everyday life of the Spanish people.

Hypothetically speaking, let’s say it’s peak flu season, you’re a little run down from the usual holiday stressors, and now you have to journey six hours south to your in-laws house for a weekend of winter festivities. Worried about getting sick? The folks at MIT Medical think you might be, so they put together a four minute video that’s rich with retro footage and dead-panned lines to teach the MIT community how to stay healthy while traveling, especially on airplanes. Dr. Howard Heller, chief of medicine at MIT Medical, addresses things like airplane air (will it make you sick?), the dirtiest place in the plane (is it the bathroom?), and how to eat snacks from a flight attendant with a coughing problem.

Watch the video below or on TechTV:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Thankfully, thanksgiving is next week and I’ll be able to go home and exchange my light winter coat for my heavy winter coat. The semester is weeks away from being over, and I have officially had to retire my flip flops. Luckily, we still have memories of summer to sustain us through the winter months. I thought it’d be fun to follow up with the “what are YOU doing this summer?” post from last spring and show you a few friends in action during Summer ’09.


Ariadne Smith '10 (course 2) in Paris, where she interned at Electricite de France.


Sam O'Keefe '09 (course 1) in front of the Roman Aqueducts ("you can smell the engineering"-Sam). Sam participated in Misti Spain and interned at a Renewable Energy Policy Lobby in Madrid.


Emily Onufer '10 (course 20) interned at St. Jude Medical Devices -a company specializing in cardiac medical technology, in Minneapolis, MN.


Will Gibson '10 (course 20) UROP'd in the Edelman lab at HST, conducting studies on syndecan-1, heparanase and occasionally leaving lab to hang out with me 🙂

MIT alumni: They win MacArthur grants, develop groundbreaking video games, invent flying cars, and they take beautiful photos.

One collection of photos, from the MIT Alumni Travel program, is accessible on Flickr. The most recent updates come from travelers who spent part of last month in Iceland and Greenland.


A rainbow in Iceland


Tasiilaq, Greenland

Like what you see? Space is still available for several upcoming programs, including trips to Prague, South Africa, and Tahiti. View the full travel schedule by month or by region on the Alumni Association Web site.

Solar eclipseMore than 60 MIT travelers headed to Asia to witness today’s total solar eclipse from two vantage points: on a boat in the Pacific Ocean with MIT Professor of Physics Ed Bertschinger and Dishui Lake in China, near the shores of the East China Sea, with MIT Professor of Planetary Astronomy Richard Binzel.

But forecasted clouds in parts of China threatened to bar the Dishui Lake group from the rare occurrence. Dishui is a large, circular man-made lake with a wide promenade surrounding it, offering unobstructed views of the sky. The site is so good, even the CBS Evening News chose to capture the event there. Professor Binzel has reported in and luckily, Mother Nature was feeling generous. “The clouds thinned, just enough, minutes before totality!” he said. “Spectacular view of the eclipse, with thick clouds interfering for about one minute during the 5 minutes 43 seconds of totality. Forty minutes later, pouring rain.”

On July 22, the CBS Evening News aired footage of these MIT travelers and interviewed Binzel. Watch for strategic placement of the MIT flag in the background. And, check out a article about the festivities that quoted Binzel.

The other group had clear weather and spectacular views of the eclipse. Its boat traveled to the coordinates 24 degrees, 12.2 minutes north and 144 degrees, 7 minutes east, the exact location of the center line of the path of totality, where the eclipse was to be the longest. They were likely the only group in the world to see the eclipse at its maximum duration of 6 minutes and 38.9 seconds. The group actually used the forward motion of the ship along the center line to push the length of totality a tenth of a second longer, to 6 minutes and 39 seconds.

Learn more about the MIT Alumni Travel Program and the solar eclipse trips to China and Japan that the MIT travelers are enjoying. And, read about the eclipse on the MIT News Office site.

Vic Sahney practices ladder climbing at base camp.

Vic Sahney practices ladder climbing at base camp.

Vikram Sahney SM ’05, MBA ’05 started getting serious about climbing in 2002, when he took a six-day glacier mountaineering course. He did his “first respectable climb,” summiting 14,411-foot Mount Rainier, while doing his MIT internship in Seattle in 2004. In May, he reached the ultimate summit— Mount Everest, the world’s tallest mountain at 29,035 feet.

“I think the best thing about mountain climbing is that is gives me perspective on daily life,” said Sahney, who works as an engagement manager at McKinsey & Co. in Seattle.

Sahney earned his degrees in an MIT program designed for manufacturing professionals. Created in 1988 as Leaders for Manufacturing, the program was renamed Leaders for Global Operations (LGO) in June. LGO students earn two degrees in two years: either master’s in management and a second master’s in an engineering field.

See the view from Mount Everest in a movie clip by Val Hovland ‘98, SM ‘98, who completed the climb this spring.

OliVaylle olive oilAs a retiree in Australia, former civil engineer Jorge de Moya ’53 happened upon an olive oil production feasibility study from the State of South Australia and did what comes naturally to MIT alums. He dissected it and questioned everything. Back then, not much olive oil was produced Down Under. As late as 2006, Australia contributed only 0.31 percent of the world’s extra virgin olive oil, according to the Australian Olive Association. De Moya’s inquisitive nature took him and his brother, Juan de Moya ’52, on a three-month tour of the major olive oil producers in the Mediterranean, Spain, and the Middle East.

After the journey, De Moya decided there was no reason good olive oil couldn’t be produced in Australia. He also thought he could make a better product than anyone in the world by focusing on ways to combat the factors that can diminish quality: heat, oxygen, time, contaminants, and light. He devised his own production techniques that take just six hours from tree to storage tank. Human hands (which can cause contamination) don’t touch his olives. They are mechanically harvested from trees, and olive oil and paste are protected from oxygen throughout the crushing process. Temperatures are also strictly controlled and lowered to prevent premature aging. Typically, major producers will vacuum olives off the ground and use high temperatures to extract every last drop of oil (a process ironically called cold pressing), which lessens the quality, according to de Moya. His product is also bottled in nearly black glass, to prevent light exposure.

Jorge de Moya '53

Jorge de Moya ’53

The result is a product de Moya calls OliVaylle, which he claims blows away any competition. He may be right. Earlier this month, it won the gold award at the 4th China International Olive Oil Competition. And the Food Channel asked chefs and olive oil connoisseurs to conduct a taste test. Their unanimous verdict? That it was indeed a superior product. See what they had to say.

Learn more about de Moya’s innovative production process for olive oil (pdf) and his career, which includes designing and constructing parts of his native Cuba’s infrastructure.

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