The MIT News Office’s Melanie Gonick profiled WTP.

For about sixty 11th grade female math and science students, the past summer was no vacation. The students spent part of June and most of July living in MIT dorms and participating in the MIT Women’s Technology Program (WTP), a demanding four-week academic experience where female high school students explore engineering through hands-on classes, labs, and team projects.

WTP is designed for young women who excel in math and science, but have minimal experience in engineering. The program, which is directed by MIT alumna Cynthia Skier ’74, received more than 400 applicants nationwide in 2015.

“We deliberately pick in the application process students who do not already know they want to be engineers,” says assistant director Barbara Hughley PhD ’89. “We want students who have been exposed to math and science but haven’t been exposed to engineering. It’s fascinating to see their views on engineering change.”

Female MIT graduate students design and teach the classes, with assistance from female MIT undergraduate students, who live in the dorm with the students during the program. The daily schedule includes classes, labs, and daily homework.

“When the girls get exposed to different role models, plus the actual material itself, they get excited about the potential and start to see that they may be able to be in this field one day,” says program instructor Angela Yen ’10, MEng ’11. “And that’s main goal of WTP. We’re spreading the message of how wonderful the opportunities are in engineering and science.”

The WTP application process for 2016 begins and late November and closes on January 1, 2016. For more information on the program, visit wtp.mit.edu/.

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For nearly 20 years, the MIT Alumni Association’s Student/Alumni Externship Program has placed thousands of MIT students in short-term alumni-sponsored internships around the globe. In 2014, the program placed more than 400 students at nearly 300 companies in 16 US states and seven countries.

More than 200 MIT alumni sponsored externships, including Dr. Anastassios Pittas ’91, an associate professor and co-director of the Diabetes Center at Tufts University School of Medicine.

“My experience at MIT was truly life-altering,” says Dr. Anastassios Pittas ’91. “After graduation, it was pretty easy for me to give back to MIT in any way I could. When the externship opportunity came up, it was easy to jump on it.”

Pittas and his wife, Dr. Helen Delichatsios ’90, have sponsored externships for 15 years. Their two-week placement, which takes place at Tufts Medical Center, exposes students to different types of specialty medicine and helps them make an informed decision about choosing a career in a medical field.

The externship offered by Dr. Pittas and Dr. Delichatsios is one example of the hundreds of externships offered each year. For more information on the Student/Alumni Externship Program, visit alum.mit.edu/externships.

Part two of a three-part video series. Watch part one, Coding for Humanity, and part two, Life at a Startup.

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AnnMarie Thomas ’01

AnnMarie Thomas ’01 is an associate professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Engineering. Her new book, Making Makers, Kids Tools and the Future of Innovation, was published last fall by Maker Media. It’s a book for parents and kids, but also one for adults who for one reason or another, stopped tinkering and working with their hands to make things at some young age.

In this Alumni Books Podcast, Thomas discusses the childhoods of some of her makers and what she learned from interviewing Dean Kamen, Woodie Flowers, Mitch Resnick, and a dozen other MIT alumni and professors about their childhoods.

“I realized over the years that many of my students were coming in who really hadn’t spent a lot of time taking things apart and building things and really playing with technology and tools as kids,” says Thomas of setting out to write the book. “As a parent myself, I became really curious about what the childhoods of the people I grew up admiring were like.”

Finding common threads among dozens of makers from various backgrounds was a challenge, says Thomas, but overall she found that persistence, playfulness, and optimism were among several qualities of children who continued to make as adults.

The book concludes with plenty of advice for parents of young entrepreneurial innovators.

“Sometimes the simplest tools are the best ones,” says Thomas. “A lot of people talked about found materials, less so than formal kits. But more and more, so many kids are being given kits with instructions, or parents are looking to buy the perfect tools to teach their kids something, and giving them less of the freedom that would come from handing them some random parts, a lot of duct tape, and maybe a hammer.”

Listen to the complete interview with Thomas here. Listen to past books podcasts with novelists, professors, and entrepreneurs by visiting MITAA on Soundcloud.

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On the banks of the Seine, Paris (© Owen Franken)

On the banks of the Seine, Paris (© Owen Franken)

Learn more about Owen Franken from his profile, read a What Matters opinion column he wrote called “Life in Brownian Motion,” or visit his Web site.

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Illustration: Jose-Luis Olivares/MIT

Illustration: Jose-Luis Olivares/MIT

Guest blogger: Nicole Taylor, Continuum

Is racial color-blindness an ideology we should be instilling in kids—especially children of color?

A new study by the MIT Sloan School of Management’s Evan P. Apfelbaum and colleagues argues that race is not only an active factor in societal outcomes, but can be an important source of a child’s identity and psychological well-being. “Ignoring race, then, may well have a negative impact on those for whom it’s most salient,” notes an article about the study in New York Magazine.

The study, published this month in Social Psychology and Personality Science, sampled attitudes toward discussing race among a group of preteens from urban public elementary schools. It found that a majority of the children, regardless of their own skin color, believed that pointing out differences in race is taboo, even if mentioned in a neutral or positive context, and that “such avoidance exacted a cost to performance and nonverbal comfort.” The study builds on 2008 research by Apfelbaum and his coauthors, Kristin Pauker of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and Brian Spitzer of New York University, that found this attitude less prevalent in younger children.

“There’s no easy way to solve the country’s vexing, centuries-old problems with race,” concludes the New York article, “but research like this highlights the serious problems and side effects that arise when you try to just sweep the problem under the rug.”

Apfelbaum is the W. Maurice Young (1961) Career Development Professor and an assistant professor of organizational studies at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Learn more from MIT News about his research isolating the effects of homogeneity and diversity.

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MIT blogger, Allan K. '17, exploring MIT's campus as a first-year student.

MIT blogger, Allan K. ’17, exploring MIT’s campus as a first-year student.

In a few days, first-year students will be on campus gearing up for the start of their first semester at MIT. Today, the Class of 2019 is busy preparing for the transition to come, hurriedly enjoying their last days of summer vacation.

With the approach of the new school year, Allan K. ’17 decided to round up some tips from MIT veterans –mixed in with some of his own—for the new students.

Allan put together a long list of advice:

  • Upperclass students know things but we’re still figuring ourselves out. We’re not THAT cool. Take what we say with grain of salt.
  • Leave space in your schedule for spontaneous things. Don’t overcommit at the beginning.
  • Say yes to things.
  • Staying in your comfort zone is easy, but you learn the most about yourself and grow as a person when you get out of your comfort zone, so take opportunities to try new things.
  • It’s okay to say no to things too.
  • Do Dance Troupe at least once. It’s really fun and even if you look like a complete fool, you’ll have tons of fun and meet a bunch of people.
  • Learn how to get lost.
  • Do laundry in the afternoon on a weekday. You will have your pick of all of the washers and all of the dryers.
  • Get a foam pad for your mattress. It makes a world of difference.
  • Take your estimate of how much time you think you’ll need to do something—and double it. That’s how long it’ll actually take. This is not a joke; I’m dead serious.

Read all of Allan’s tips.

Allan has been blogging since he started at MIT, writing his first post on September 6, 2013, just a week into his first semester. His post was about finding balance, saying “I will probably fail often, and that probably won’t stop me from continuing to try. And hopefully, I’ll get better at finding balance day by day.”

Allan2Two years later, Allan is still always working to find balance, which he has found through many different outlets at MIT, including a cappella group, the MIT/Wellesley Toons, and in his living group at East Campus.

“I’m a vastly different person than the one who applied to MIT three years ago. In my first few weeks there were so many opportunities to connect with people. Some combination of freshman excitement, a thousand kids all starting with blank slates, and the late nights of sleep-deprived conversations that coalesce into a collective vulnerability that seems to draw people together.”

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Can you write a winning essay on sustainable global development? How about in Russian? That’s what Tiffany Amariuta ’15 recently did as part of the Many Languages, One World contest (MLOW). The contest, put on by United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) and the ELS Educational Service invited students from around the globe to submit essays related to the UN’s sustainable development agenda. The big catch? Essays must be written in a language that is not the students’ native tongue. Amariuta, who has a passion for foreign languages, was up for the challenge.

Amariuta presents in Russian at the United Nations.

Amariuta says her interest in language was sparked in high school.  “At home, we only spoke English. When I got to high school and saw my friends come from a non-English speaking family, I thought that I had missed an amazing opportunity to learn a foreign language,” she says. Amariuta began studying Vietnamese, Korean, and Latin, and when she got to MIT she added French and then Russian to her list of languages.

Amariuta’s Russian professor, Maria Khotimsky, urged her to participate in the MLOW contest. “She suggested that I write the essay in French, with which I have much more experience. I decided to write essays in both languages. In the end, my Russian essay was selected,” she says.

For the contest, winners selected from multiple countries are invited to the United Nations to present a final speech as a team on given topic. The students were given one day to work on their speeches as a group. Amariuta worked with Russian speakers from places like Ghana, Vietnam, and Georgia to present a speech—in Russian—on sustainable distribution of potable water and availability of sanitation. “Given the short amount of time we had to work with our team and write our speeches, I’m very happy with how everything turned out,” she says.

Amariuta continues to put her Russian to good use—she’s currently finishing an internship in Algorithmic Biology Lab at Saint Petersburg Academic University in the Russian Academy of Science.

In the fall, Amariuta will be a student at Harvard Medical School in the Bioinformatics and Integrative Genomics (BIG) PhD program—a choice that she credits to a MISTI opportunity. “When I worked at EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland, I discovered the faculty of computational and statistical genetics and I knew that I had found the field I wanted to work in,” she says.

As far as languages, Amariuta is working to add one more to her resume—Romanian, a language that she’s learning from her dad, a native speaker.

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Assistant Professor Renée Richardson Gosline

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The 2015 MIT Alumni Leadership Conference (ALC) is one month away. ALC is the Alumni Association’s cornerstone event for volunteers and alumni who want to reconnect or stay engaged with MIT. More than 600 attended last year’s conference, and this year’s schedule is packed with even more brainstorming sessions, networking events, and volunteer training.

Whether you’re a longtime volunteer or a first-time attendee, this year’s conference has sessions personalized to your MIT interests. Plus, each year ALC culminates with the Leadership Awards Dinner, a festive cocktail reception and dinner in Walker Memorial that celebrates dedicated MIT volunteers.

Thinking about registering for ALC? Check out 10 reasons to join hundreds of fellow alumni on campus next month. Then visit the ALC website and register for the conference.

  1. Glimpse behind the Scenes. MIT leaders, including chancellors Cynthia Barnhart and Eric Grimson, MIT faculty, and the academic deans from MIT’s five schools, will discuss new academic initiatives and MIT’s future plans.
  2. Boost Your Professional Development. In the Friday morning sessions “Establish Yourself as a Thought Leader,” certified career coach Ann Guo ’98 will discuss a step-by-step approach to build your career.
  3. Strengthen Your Career Toolbox. In Saturday’s “Strengthening Your Career Advisor Toolbox,” share your own experiences with career conversations then hear an MIT career counselor discuss the best ways to solicit and receive advice.
  4. Connect with Students. Current undergraduate students will discuss present-day life on campus and current graduate students will discuss their research.
  5. Receive Entrepreneurial Guidance. In a Friday even panel discussion, successful alumni entrepreneurs will discuss the obstacles and challenges they faced after graduation from MIT.
  6. Plan Your Best Event Yet. This year’s ALC is packed with sessions on planning reunions and special events, and how get the biggest return for your club or group with the least financial investment.
  7. Expand Your Network In-Person. The two-day schedule includes a Friday evening reception with current MIT graduate students and local alumni entrepreneurs; two networking lunches; a Saturday afternoon volunteer opportunity fair; and more than 10 events hosted by alumni clubs and affinity groups.
  8. Expand Your Network Online. This year’s conference includes a customizable app—created by the MIT alum-founded startup Presdo Match—that allows you to see who is already registered and connect with attendees before, during, and after the conference.
  9. Attend on Your Schedule. Can’t attend for both days? Register at a reduced rate for Friday or Saturday only. (Saturday’s registration includes the Leadership Awards Dinner).
  10. Celebrate! Reconnect with friends throughout the weekend, then enjoy delicious food and drink the Leadership Award reception and celebration.

View the full schedule then register today. Add your thoughts before and during ALC on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram using the hashtag #mitalc. We hope to see you on campus next month!

 

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08.24.15_Prep4GMAT

The Prep4GMAT app, created by Elad Shoushan MBA ’14

After five surgeries on one knee and two on the other, Elad Shoushan MBA ’14  hung up his high-tops, leaving his Israeli professional basketball career for computer science. Now instead of making assists on the court, he helps students score more points on standardized tests. His company, LTG Exam Prep Platform, puts test prep on students’ smartphones and tablets. With $3.2 million in venture funding and 160,000 downloads, the Prep4GMAT app is number one in Apple app store search results for GMAT and MBA in the United States, India, and China.

After walking away from the court, he earned a bachelor’s degree at the Technion in Haifa in 2008. He worked first for Intel and then for GE Healthcare for three years, connecting radiology information systems with doctors’ cell phones. Traveling for GE inspired him to consider getting an MBA in the States, but he struggled with the admission test. “I’m a pretty good student, but the GMAT was a big challenge for me. It’s not aligned with how people think,” he says.

Shoushan applied to Sloan, and then he quit his job and spent six months coding a test-prep app in his basement. “It went live to market the first day I started at Sloan,” he says. Algorithms in his patented methodology highlight keywords in test questions; LTG stands for “Label the GMAT.” Shoushan explains: “We have a tech engine that parses questions. Users click on a button—we call it an x-ray—and suddenly keywords are highlighted in many different colors, so you can see what the question is trying to test.” The app is free, but users will eventually be charged for additional questions, features, and services.

Elad Shoushan MBA ’14

Elad Shoushan MBA ’14

LTG has released Mandarin Chinese and English editions of the app. A network of 100 tutors schedule free study sessions with users in English, Mandarin, and other languages. And the GMAT is only the beginning, Shoushan says: “The goal of LTG is to become the go-to test prep platform on mobile devices for all standardized tests.” The company released an SAT version in April 2015; GRE, MCAT, and LSAT versions are also in the works.

Why did he bother with business school given that LTG was already launched when he got to Cambridge?

“At the end of the day, the exposure, the connections, and the brand name of MIT are invaluable,” he says. When LTG got its own office space, he threw a party to say good-bye to the staff at Sloan’s Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, where he had been toiling around the clock from September to May of his second year at Sloan. “It felt like they were our family,” he says. “The company would not have gotten to this stage
without me being at Sloan.”

Shoushan and his wife, Shelly, live in Kendall Square.

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2015 issues of MIT Technology Review magazine.

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A twelve-spotted skimmer dragonfly (Libellula pulchella) (female) on an Echinacea stem (© Gary Blau).

A twelve-spotted skimmer dragonfly (Libellula pulchella) (female) on an Echinacea stem (© Gary Blau).

Gary Blau is a photographer in Cambridge, MA. View more work on his website. View other alumni photos of the week.

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