New robot adds two useful fingers to your hand.

New robot adds two useful fingers to your hand.

MIT is full of invention. One quick way to tap into the riches on campus is to browse the MIT Video collection, curated by the MIT News Office to bring highlights of research and campus culture into view. Whether you have just a minute—or an hour—you can learn something fun, intriguing, or maybe life changing. Here are a few suggestions:

Learn how to don the mascot costume.

Learn how to don the mascot costume.

If you browse by types, do venture into the Demonstrations section. Upwrap one of the mysteries of campus culture by watching Tim the Beaver: Putting on the Mascot Costume. First rule: do not try to put on the costume by yourself. Did you know ice packs are involved? Time: 00:03:54

Need an extra hand—or at least a couple of extra digits? Watch 7 Finger Robot, a 0:58 second spotlight on a new robotic device, worn on the wrist, that acts like two extra fingers adjacent to the pinky and thumb.

Learn how materials science is changing energy resources.

Learn how materials science is changing energy resources.

How are materials-driven advances transforming energy and economics worldwide? Watch Hey, Atoms: What Have You Done for Me Lately?: The age of materials design and how it will change the energy world. After an eight-minute introduction, hear Jeffrey C. Grossman, MIT professor of materials science and engineering, present the Wulff lecture. First, he lights things on fire, the way most energy is currently produced. And then it really gets interesting. Time: 58:12.

If you browse by channels, you can zoom in on 133 videos on mathematics including the 18.02 Tutorial Video: Partial Derivatives, which runs 11:59. Or among 261 videos on engineering, you will find Emmy-Award Winning Work on High-Speed Video Cameras by Brian Anthony SM ’98, PhD ’06, an entrepreneur who leads the MIT Medical Electronics Device Realization Center. Time: 02:51

Most visitors to Barcelona visit Antoni Gaudi’s iconic structures that join fanciful decorations with conservative structures—churches and housing. You can understand the subtleties of his work by watching an architecture and urban planning channel video titled the Creative Practices of Antoni Gaudi in Colònia Güell and Sagrada Familia. Time: 01:42:19

You can also explore channels devoted to the arts, student life, and entrepreneurship. Or click types to find history for a video on the Harnessing the Wind at MIT: Wright Brothers Wind Tunnel or the story of the telegraph and its impact in the Whole Wired World. Enjoy!


Newly certified swimmer Lita Nelsen ’64, SM ’66, SM ’79 with her instructor Betty Lou McClanahan.

Newly certified swimmer Lita Nelsen ’64, SM ’66, SM ’79, left, with her instructor Betty Lou McClanahan.

Guest Blogger: Sarah Goodman, DAPER

“Can you teach an uncoordinated old lady to swim?”

“I can teach anyone to swim.”

This was the question and answer, respectively, from Lita Nelsen ’64, SM ’66, SM ’79 and MIT private swim instructor Betty Lou McClanahan.

And why did she ask? Nelsen was one of only 22 women in her graduating class at MIT and finished as the top student in Course 10. She also earned two master’s degrees at MIT, one in chemical engineering and the other through the Sloan Fellows program. Nelsen spent two decades working on biotechnology for several prominent companies. In 1986, she joined MIT’s Technology Licensing Office and has served as director there since 1993 and she is a highly-regarded expert in the field.

Despite these accomplishments, she still joshes that she is an illegal graduate of MIT. Why? Nelsen never passed her student swim requirement.

To be fair, at that point in MIT history, women were not required to fulfill the physical education requirements expected of their male peers. Regardless, Nelsen established the goal of passing her MIT swim test before her MIT 50th class reunion in 2014. To do so, Nelsen sought help from McClanahan, an instructor with MIT Recreational Sports, whose approach—breaking the task into discrete parts and doing many repetitions—was especially helpful to Nelsen.

Though she was an avid participant in the MIT Outdoor Club, Nelsen did not feel that PE was important during her tenure as an MIT student. However, in retrospect, she thinks it is very valuable because it promotes skill-set development that extends beyond graduation. Nelsen described how her husband, also an MIT graduate, took up sailing with no prior experience, became a national champion, and sails to this day. Nelsen says the worth of physical education goes beyond learning physical skills. “It’s play. I think the variety of stuff at DAPER [Department of Athletics, Physical Education, and Recreation] allows people to do a lot of experimentation. You don’t have to get an ‘A.’ Try different things. It’s fun.” Nelsen also finds value in doing an activity to simply enjoy the process, and she believes this mindset would benefit the high-achieving, outcome-oriented MIT student, especially at an institution with a history of celebrating and respecting amateurism.

Nelsen offered additional pieces of advice for MIT students, especially women entering a male-dominated profession like engineering:

  • Do what you really like, because if you’re here, you’re certainly smart enough to do whatever you like well. You’re going to do what you really like better.
  • Fear of failure is a handicap. Find a way to get over it.
  • Find a mentor that gives you perspective, not just encouragement, but the perspective that you need to build a career.
  • Yes, you can combine career and family. You’ve just got to do it, and the first step of doing it finding the right partner.”

Nelsen achieved her goal of passing the MIT swim test by her 50th reunion last June. She called up the Office of the Bursar and director of physical education to make sure that her official MIT transcript was updated to “passed swim requirement.”  Now, just like any MIT student, she has already moved on to conquering the next challenge: the flip turn.


Israel Ruiz, MIT executive vice president and treasurer, left; MIT President L. Rafael Reif; Bob Reynolds, CEO of Putnum Investments; and Scott Blackmun, CEO of the United States Olympic Committee

Israel Ruiz, EVP and treasurer, left; President Reif; Bob Reynolds, CEO of Putnum Investments; and Scott Blackmun, CEO of the USOC. Photo: Dominick Reuter.

Rumblings of a Boston bid for the 2024 Olympics have been bouncing around the city for months and it turns out that MIT is part of the crew evaluating the options. When the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) visited Boston Tuesday, they met with Israel Ruiz SM ‘01, MIT’s executive vice president and treasurer, and others making the case for Boston as a center of innovation that could provide a walkable Olympics venue.

Ruiz serves as a cochair of the Boston 2024 Institutional Outreach Subcommittee, which is working to engage area universities in supporting the bid. This group is considering how institutions can use this event for broader goals such as outreach to K-12 students and educational opportunities for athletes after the games.

“We also foresee faculty engagement around innovation,” Ruiz told the MIT News office in a 3 Questions interview. “Professor Carlo Ratti of MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning and his colleagues from the Senseable City Lab have been talking with the Boston 2024 team about opportunities to use real-time urban data, such as cellphone network information, to better understand urban flows and patterns of activity. Using mobility patterns to reveal unused capacity in the transportation infrastructure could inform planning and help to achieve a walkable Olympics, complemented by appropriate transportation infrastructure.”

The Olympics could also showcase university facilities.

“Director of Athletics Julie Soriero is engaging with us to imagine how MIT might contribute to the games; the Institute offers one of the broadest intercollegiate athletics programs in the world, with 33 varsity sports overall. If Boston is successful and is ultimately selected as the host city, we are pursuing possibilities for MIT to provide the sporting venues for archery and fencing.”

President L. Rafael Reif welcomed the USOC group, the governor, Boston major, and presidents of University of Massachusetts at Boston, Northeastern, Tufts, and Bentley to the meeting, which also included a visit to the MIT Media Lab. The USOC decides in January among the four US cities—Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington DC, and Boston. The next stage is an international competition among contending cities with a decision announced in 2017.


The Stata Center. La Grande Voile. Lobby 7. The Great Dome.

MIT’s campus has no shortage of iconic structures and willing photo subjects. With the help of services like Instagram, novice photographers can snap shots of MIT and share them with thousands. The Instagram app—in case you are not familiar with it—is a social network and photo sharing service that gives amateur photographers a chance at a huge audience. Currently it’s a top ten app on iTunes. Instagram uses hashtags just like Twitter to allow users to find content. The right tag can garner hundreds of views and likes.

Photo by @stefaniegiglio via Instagram

Photo by @stefaniegiglio via Instagram

Search for photos that have the hashtag #killiancourt and you’ll see 120 photos of MIT’s picturesque slice of campus. Expand your search to #MIT and #MassachusettsInstituteofTechnology and you’ll get thousands of shots of campus from photographers you’ve never met.

To showcase these impressive photos and give alumni a peek at MIT’s ever-changing campus, the Alumni Association digital team has been sharing our favorite Instagram photos across Facebook and Twitter. Besides the “oohs” and “aahs,” these photos encourage conversation and bring back memories.

A shot of a quiet Lobby 7 reminds alumni of the great minds that have passed through those great doors.

Killian Court in front of a spectacular blue sky shares the unique feeling of MIT in the summer.

Photo from @dinigor via Instagram

Photo from @dinigor via Instagram

Enjoy a collection of our recent favorites below and tell us your favorites.

Slide background Photo by @j_sarinana PhD '11
Slide background Summer at MIT. Photo by @cloudbusting27
Slide background Looking out from Building 4. Photo by @mitstudents
Slide background Kresge. Photo by @mitalumni
Slide background Cranes for Collier installation in Stata. Photo by @spamberly
Slide background Photo by @mitalumni
Slide background Seeing Neutrinos at the MIT Museum. Photo by @artsatMIT
Slide background Photo by @tingah '09
Slide background Rainy day Stata. Photo by @dancingneurons


Follow us on FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle+, and Instagram for more MIT snapshots.



Examine the illustrative drawing of the new gateway linking East Campus and Kendall Square.

Click to examine the illustrative drawing of the new gateway linking East Campus and Kendall Square.

After working through years of Cambridge zoning discussions and much campus consultation, MIT is advancing a proposal to redesign its Kendall Square entry. The design calls for a lively mix of academic, retail, commercial, and housing with spaces earmarked for new buildings for the MIT Museum, an Innovation Space, and graduate student housing. And there are even green spaces.

Want to know more?

In a letter to the community, Provost Marty Schmidt describes the structures that will populate this new space. MIT has issued RFPs for design teams to create building concepts. Stay tuned for more.


Mortar board art: Doc Edgerton's famous droplet gets a salute from the  Class of 2014

Mortar board art: Doc Edgerton’s famous droplet gets a salute. Photo: Christine Tempesta.

Under the sunny skies of today’s 148th Commencement, the Institute awarded degrees to 990 undergraduate and 1,717 graduate students. You can catch moment-by-moment tweets and photos by following #MIT2014.

In President L. Rafael Reif’s address to the graduates, he provided some tongue-in-cheek advice to and about new graduates:

“Congratulations on your recent decision to hire, invest in, launch a start up with, enroll, marry, date or befriend your New MIT Graduate. Here are answers to some Frequently Asked Questions about handling your New MIT Graduate, to achieve the best results.


My company has a very competitive culture. But my New MIT Graduate insists on building collaborative teams. What am I doing wrong?


There is no way to stop this team-building behavior. And be careful: it spreads! Monitor your entire company for symptoms of increased creativity and profits.”

Get the rest of President Reif’s charge to new graduates.

MIT Alumni Association President John Jarve ’78, SM ’79, hoisting the official MIT mace, led the 50th reunion class and the undergraduate and graduate students into Killian Court.

DuPont CEO and chair Ellen Kullman delivered the Commencement keynote. She said her own engineering training was valuable solving problems during business crises. “My message to you is to seek the intensity of heat, the insight of light, and vitality of water to transform your life.” Heat means rigorously examining a problem or the driving entrepreneurial spirit. Light, she noted, brings transparency and a larger perspective on issues. Water means the resources of time and money and, “in part, that means the time and investment you make in yourself….Focus on the things that make you and the people you love fulfilled.”

Kullman, who is listed by Forbes and Fortune as one of the world’s most powerful women, took on Dupont’s top leadership roles starting in fall 2008, just as the Great Recession took hold. That first year involved layoffs and unpaid vacations for employees, but she is credited with a resurgence that stabilized earnings and focused the company on four megatrends: food, renewable energy, safety, and emerging markets. Kullman, who is married and the mother of three, earned a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering at Tufts University in 1978 and a master’s degree in management at Northwestern University in 1983.

Read MIT News coverage of talks by Kullman,  Reif, and student leaders.


Class of 2018 members, from left, Raymundo Cano, Andrew Koh, Kevin Escobar Rodriguez, GiMin Choi and William Lopez-Cordero.

Class of 2018 members, from left, Reymundo Cano, Andrew Koh, Kevin Escobar Rodriguez, GiMin Choi and William Lopez-Cordero.

Was it founding school clubs together or being in many of the same classes at LA’s Polytechnic High School’s Math/Science Magnet program? Was it chatting on bus rides to a community college to take multivariable calculus or getting together on the weekends to eat Korean BBQ? Those were just some of the experiences five members of the Class of 2018 have shared.

Although they all received multiple, prestigious university offers, they are sticking together and coming to the Institute. Media stories call them the MIT 5.

And while they expect their camaraderie will ease the transition to college, they plan to make lots of new friends and live in different areas on campus.

Why come to MIT?

“Not only are the people at MIT extremely talented and intelligent, but they also have amazing personality and passion for learning,” says GiMin Choi. “Thanks to my older brother GiHun Choi, who is currently a freshman at MIT, I have been to MIT twice and already know many upperclassmen, and the overall atmosphere was very supportive and energetic.”

Choi began relying on his MIT support network during his senior year. Since his parents don’t live in the US, when his older brother left for MIT, he was far from family. When he wanted advice or conversation, he tapped his brother and other MIT friends.

For William Lopez-Cordero, MIT was always a dream school but after spending a summer on campus in an engineering program he was obsessed. “I knew MIT was the place for me when I stepped foot on the campus.”

Reymundo Cano says the group got close taking AP courses together. “It was initially collaboration, then that turned to playing games together over the Internet, then we started to eat KBBQ together on weekends.”

The atmosphere at Polytech helped the group bond, says Andrew Koh. “Our school environment was always more in to helping each other out than only ourselves and, as we had similar ambitions, it became natural that we became friends.” And for him, why MIT? “It’s the cooler Institute of Technology.”

Kevin Escobar Rodriguez expects MIT to be somewhat like Polytech. “Students take difficult classes yet focus on helping each other out rather than being the sole best student. The fact that MIT had a supportive community as well as amazing academics drew me there.”

When the MIT 5 arrive, they will get plenty of advice from other Polytech alumni on campus. For example, GiHun Choi ’17 advises his brother and friends to “stay humble and learn how to manage their time efficiently.”

Javier Castillo Jr. ’16 suggested making sure they have solid study habits to tackle the MIT workload. The abundance of opportunities will be one challenge, says Eduardo Carrillo ’15. “One of the biggest struggles you will face when you get to MIT is simply how many options you now have in life; you will have the opportunity to do whatever you like.” Personally he is broadening his studies by taking time off to work for Toyota, Boeing, and Apple.

Juan Carlos Fuentes ’12 said he was “overwhelmed with joy” to welcome this group of students.

“Find a research group that is doing the kind of research that excites you and UROP with them,” Fuentes suggests. “Look at the many different international experiences available through MISTI and expand your network on a global scale. Know that MIT and the Alumni Association are here to ensure you succeed. The next four years will pass by fast so enjoy them to the fullest!”


Chuck Vest, MIT president 1990–2004, interviewed by journalist John Hockenberry for the MIT150 celebration.

Chuck Vest, MIT president 1990–2004, reflects on his presidency during the MIT150 celebration.

The powerful leadership of a humble man was a central theme of the March 6 memorial service for Charles M. Vest, MIT’s 15th president. Vest, who died of pancreatic cancer in December, was praised for influential decisions ranging from supporting gender equity to establishing OpenCourseWare, an idea that has sparked a learning revolution.

His bold decisions provide leadership lessons for many of the speakers including Institute and academic leaders, former Vice President Al Gore, and Raymond S. Stata ’57, SM ’58, founder of Analog Devices.

Former MIT presidents Paul Gray ’54, SM ’55 and Susan Hockfield praised Vest’s tireless advocacy in Washington. “As president of the National Academy of Engineers, he continued his role as advocate in chief for sound federal policy for education and research,” Hockfield said.

Al Gore, commenting via video, called Vest a good friend and a “true visionary” who was instrumental in advising the Clinton-Gore White House on emerging science and technology, environmental policy, the design of the space program, and the development of the information superhighway.

“Chuck Vest changed the lives of women scientists and engineers worldwide,” Professor Emeritus of Biology Nancy Hopkins reminded the audience. In 1999 when he endorsed the findings of the MIT report on the Status of Women Faculty in Science, which documented unequal treatment, he asked to write a note with the report.

“Chuck wrote, ‘I’ve always believed that contemporary gender discrimination within universities is part reality and part perception. True, but I now understand that reality is by far the greater part of the balance.’ With his two sentences, Chuck had reached from MIT into the White House and obtained a national mandate from the president of the United States,” Hopkins said.

Ray Stata said Vest profoundly changed campus life for students—and he stayed calm even when decisions were contentious. “Chuck’s mild manner masked his profound sense of purpose and his determination to leave MIT an even greater place that he found it,” Stata noted.

In Stata’s own undergraduate days, “student life was a grim experience in many ways, but it didn’t have to be that way,” Stata said. Vest’s support for the Presidential Task Force on Student Life and Learning resulted in a new policy that required first-year students to live on campus, a policy shift that generated much discussion along with changes in the living groups. “The culture of community emerged from this task force where learning to live and living to learn became inseparable,” Stata said.

That decision also contributed to a wave of new construction, another signature of Vest’s legacy. Graduate and undergraduate residences, new research facilities, department consolidations, and a spacious recreation facility resulted.

Vest’s leadership was also evident in the quality of the buildings, Stata said. “’Why not hire Frank Gehry to build an iconic building to symbolize MIT’s commitment to innovation?’ Vest asked. ‘Why don’t we build a student street where students could mingle, socialize, learn, and collaborate?’ … Aren’t we grateful today that he had the courage and foresight to make such a bold commitment to MIT’s future?”

MIT President L. Rafael Reif said he had come to see Chuck Vest as a teacher and “I have become one of his most committed students.” He quoted Vest’s last president’s report:

“Boldness does not come naturally to me…but there are instances when both institutions and individuals must decide whether or not to strike out in new directions or to seize a moment. Boldness [then]… is a simple application of core values at a critical moment in time.”

Learn more about Vest’s MIT leadership, watch memorial service speakers describe his many contributions to MIT, or view his reflections on his presidency in an MIT150 Infinite History interview by journalist John Hockenberry.


Guest blogger: Lydia Krasilnikova ′14, Admissions blogger

Like geese, my family migrates when it gets cold every year, to Miami for New Year’s and a Green Christmas and to Myrtle Beach for Thanksgiving and Hanukkah. I think what we eat at Thanksgiving captures a wonderful picture of our cross-cultural family identity. Thanksgiving dinner this year was borscht with garlic and rye bread, turkey with homemade plum sauce, and farina cake.

Bubble tea

Bubble tea

Over the past semester I asked my family to teach me how to cook the foods I love, and I’ve been trying to make most of them during actual work weeks. I was surprised that they are almost all very easy to make, and that it’s possible to have a real dinner without taking real time away from studying. Most of what I ate freshman year was cereal and skim milk.

In celebration of my new steps toward real adulthood, here are the 42 (plus or minus a few) recipes that encompass most of the foods I love. This blog post is mostly for me but it is also for you, in case you want to learn some fast, diverse recipes to get you through the semester.

30. Bubble tea

If you don’t know what bubble tea is, you will when you get to campus. It is sweetened milk tea with tapioca bubbles. It is addicting. It is sold at the Student Center for $3 a serving.

Effort: 2


  • Tapioca bubbles
  • Honey or fruit preserves
  • Tea
  • Milk
  • Bubble tea straws


1. Buy tapioca bubbles [on Amazon]. I store them in a zip-lock bag in the freezer so they don’t dry out. You can buy fat straws on Amazon as well.

2. Boil water in an electric tea kettle or on the stove, as much as you can imagine you and your friends drinking in one sitting. Add several (three to six) bags of whatever tea you want to drink. When the tea is done steeping, move the pot or the tea kettle to the fridge to cool.

3. Boil water in a pot. Once the water is boiled, add a very small handful of tapioca bubbles for every two people. They will expand in the water.

4. After five minutes, remove the tapioca bubbles from the water and put them in a cup. Cover them in honey or fruit preserves. I think fruit preserves work better than honey, but other people (sample size two) disagree.

5. After a while the tapioca bubbles should have soaked up some of the honey or fruit preserves. Distribute the tea, add milk, and add the tapioca bubbles. Drink with a bubble tea straw.

Real bubble tea is prepared with some powder instead of just tea and milk. I haven’t figured this out yet and I’m probably not going to, because I’m happy with tea and milk, but you might want to.

For the full post on the MIT Admission website and all recipes, begin with Part I.

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Guest Blogger: Debbie Levey, CEE Technical Writer

Relocating from Boston to the new 1916 Cambridge campus solved many of MIT’s problems of cramped classrooms and inadequate lab space. However, students complained loudly about the lack of proper athletic facilities. When President Karl Compton announced plans for a new field house at the 1934 commencement, The Tech reported excitedly that the new building would double the current facilities for track, basketball, wrestling, squash, and other sports.

The brand-new Barbour Field House in 1934

The brand-new Barbour Field House in 1934.

Funded by the estate of MIT benefactor Edmund Dana Barbour, construction on the new Barbour field house began that July under the supervision of Professor Walter Voss of the Building Engineering and Construction Department (old Course 17) and Albert Smith, superintendent of buildings and power.

By fall, students marveled at the new one-story building of yellow brick. At the dedication on October 26, 1934, The Tech described how the new athletic center filled “a long felt need in athletics and at the same time replac[ed] one of the campus eyesores.” Lockers to accommodate 1,000 men was “a distinct enlargement over the previous locker space…. Although the building had no windows, skylights filled every room with soft light.”

The Tech reporter concluded, “The entire building is completely air conditioned and is a far cry from the draughty old building that was the hang-out of the athletes previously.”

Like the rest of campus, the field house adapted to different needs during World War II. From 1943 to 1944, much of the space became a temporary civilian cafeteria while military personnel occupied Walker. Campus maps in the early 1950s label it as the student activities building.

As campus expanded, the Barbour Field House was replaced in 1956 by the Compton Laboratories (Bldg. 26) and the Dorrance Building (Bldg. 16). Demolishing the former Westgate veterans’ housing in the late 1950s provided much more space for athletic fields on West Campus. The new Student Center (W20), dedicated in 1965.

As student interest in sports increased, DuPont Athletic Center opened in October 1959 and, unlike Barbour, included a women’s locker room. In 2002, the new Zesiger Center added an Olympic size swimming pool, fitness center, indoor track and flexible space. Today, the vast majority of MIT students participate in some type of physical activity at varsity, club, intramural, or recreational levels.

Thanks to Robert Doane and Ariel Weinberg of the MIT Museum for information and photos.