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A couple weeks ago on April 21, 2010, Bill Gates, Chairman of Microsoft and Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, came to MIT to give a speech about philanthropy. I was lucky enough to have been selected to receive a ticket through an MIT lottery, and the speech definitely did not disappoint. With students, faculty, and Gates Millennium Scholars filling up Kresge Auditorium to watch the one-time world’s richest man, Gates spoke about his efforts to redistribute his wealth amongst organizations he felt would impact the world. Gates spoke a lot about green energy, and praised the students and faculty of MIT for their ground-breaking research in the field of renewable energy. Gates also stressed the importance to give back to the world, something he did when he started the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000. After a short but to the point speech, Gates gave the chance for students and members of the audience to ask him questions regarding everything from Professor Sadoway’s Solid State Chemistry (3.091) class to the impact of his philanthropic efforts on the rising popularity of green energy. I thought the speech was inspiring and humbling, to say the least. Seeing such a popular technology icon speak of the importance of keeping others in mind and not being selfish was a very insightful experience, and it was amazing that MIT allowed him to come and speak in front of us.

For more about the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, check out http://www.gatesfoundation.org

Also, check out the attached pictures and this video of Bill praising MIT Open Courseware: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfvxfkBVLqQ

A couple weeks ago on April 21, 2010, Bill Gates, Chairman of Microsoft and Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, came to MIT to give a speech about philanthropy. I was lucky enough to have been selected to receive a ticket through an MIT lottery, and the speech definitely did not disappoint. With students, faculty, and Gates Millennium Scholars filling up Kresge Auditorium to watch the one-time world’s richest man, Gates spoke about his efforts to redistribute his wealth amongst organizations he felt would impact the world. Gates spoke a lot about green energy, and praised the students and faculty of MIT for their ground-breaking research in the field of renewable energy. Gates also stressed the importance to give back to the world, something he did when he started the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000. After a short but to the point speech, Gates gave the chance for students and members of the audience to ask him questions regarding everything from Professor Sadoway’s Solid State Chemistry (3.091) class to the impact of his philanthropic efforts on the rising popularity of green energy. I thought the speech was inspiring and humbling, to say the least. Seeing such a popular technology icon speak of the importance of keeping others in mind and not being selfish was a very insightful experience, and it was amazing that MIT allowed him to come and speak in front of us.

For more about the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, check out http://www.gatesfoundation.org

Also, check out the attached pictures and this video of Bill praising MIT Open Courseware: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfvxfkBVLqQ

We’ve grown up and moved to WordPress.org. We’re still waiting for our redirects to kick in (technology…gotta love it), so in the meantime, read Slice at http://alum.mit.edu/sliceofmit. Today we’ll be posting photos of the very cool hack that appeared at the Media Lab. You don’t want to miss it!

If you subscribe to Slice of MIT’s RSS feed, here’s one last reminder to update the URL starting tomorrow. We’re moving to a new server.

The blog will continue to be found at http://alum.mit.edu/sliceofmit. Don’t worry, the address currently appearing in your browser (containing wordpress.com) will redirect.

Slice of MIT is growing up (sniff) and moving from WordPress.com to WordPress.org this week. If you subscribe via our RSS feed, please note that you’ll have to change the URL starting this Thursday, April 8. The blog will continue to be found at http://alum.mit.edu/sliceofmit. Don’t worry, the address currently appearing in your browser (containing wordpress.com) will redirect.

Professor Patrick Henry Winston ’65, SM ’67, PhD ’70

When I showed up in 1961, there had been a tuition riot the year before. Tuition had gone from $1,200 to $1,400, a hearty 16% rise. My house bill at ΦΔΘ was $110/month. So the total, rounding up, was, $2,500. It was a lot of money, especially for my family, which was too well off for me to qualify for financial aid, but not well enough off to handle the $2,500 without considerable sacrifice.

Now tuition, room, board, and fees have just topped $50,000, but of course you have to adjust for inflation, perhaps by using the handy inflation calculator provided by the US Department of Labor. With that adjustment, tuition, room, and board ought to be about $18,000.

So relative to the rest of the economy, MIT’s educational productivity has lagged behind by a factor of about 2.75 over the past 50 years.

I’m not really surprised. The last great technical contribution to education was the development of fast, cheap copying machines and before that the invention of the printing press in 1440. I don’t count computers, because I think that, for the most part, they just make us stupid. Education remains labor intensive out of proportion to just about everything else.

Also, there is the matter of growing administration. A while ago, the sometimes acerbic Philip Greenspun ’82, SM 93, PhD 99 poked around and found that in 1969, MIT employed 962 faculty and 622 administrators. During the past twenty years, the faculty has been stable at about 1,000, an insignificant 4% more than the 1969 number, while administration has grown from about 1,000 to about 1,800, almost three times the 1969 number and a presumably larger multiple of the 1961 number. Interestingly, in 1961, administrators had no productivity-multiplying computers; the only computer was the IBM 7090, in building 26, with impressive tape drives, shown off behind large glass windows along the hallway.

Like most MIT people, I like to look at the numbers. To graduate in four years, you have to take eight subjects a year. My fall subject has two lectures, two recitations, and one tutorial in each of fourteen weeks. Subtracting out holidays, quizzes, and short weeks, that leaves about 60 units of instruction. $50,000 / 8 / 60 ≅ $100, which is about the price of an excellent ticket for a performance of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. If I flatter myself and suppose that my lectures are twice as valuable as the other forms of contact, and note that they last 50 minutes, not 60, then a little algebra says they cost each student about $175 per hour.  The best tickets at the Metropolitan Opera and good tickets at Rolling Stones Concerts cost about that per hour.

That’s why I think I’m obligated to practice my lectures more than ever. Opera singers and the Stones practice a lot for their expensive performances, so I figure I should, too.

About two weeks ago on “Pi Day”, March 14th at 1:59PM (3.14159), the admissions decisions for the class of 2014 came out. With the MIT admissions website buzzing with excitement, the Institute welcomed the future students of MIT with the greatest word a struggling high school senior could see: accepted. One thing that MIT does very well is making their admitted students feel welcome. From sending mailing tubes full of confetti to having MIT students and faculty call the high school seniors during “newly admitted student telethons” MIT provides a comfortable setting for the admit-tees even before they step on campus. With admitted student information sessions all across the country, the class of 2014 got to meet current MIT students who went back home for spring break this past week. One current student, Jay Rajan, a junior, who went to the admitted student get-together in Los Angeles, described the event as “electric.” I remember the excitement I felt when I knew I got into MIT, and it’s great to know hundreds of people all over the nation get to feel the same rush I did. With Campus Preview Weekend (CPW) only a week and a half away, MIT is prepping for a surge of energy from the admitted students. This year, CPW will take place from April 8-11. For more information about CPW and the newly admitted students, check out these websites:

http://www.mitadmissions.org/

http://web.mit.edu/admissions/cpw/

http://www.mymit.info/

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