First-Year Discovery Subjects


 

The subjects listed below were created specifically to help first-year students discover majors, minors, concentrations, and topics of interest. All first-year students are encouraged to take one or more of these subjects even if they feel that they already know their intended major. These subjects also count towards the 9 units for discovery and related exceptions rather than the normal first-year credit limit, making it easy to fit one or more of them into your schedule. 

Spring 2020 FYD Subjects

Some spring subjects are listed below. 

1.008 Solving Big Engineering Problems - 3 units

Introduction to big engineering problems that span our built infrastructure and natural environment. Topics promote high-level thinking and basic problem-solving skills for societal problems in domains of civil and environmental engineering. Lectures based on case studies that emphasize key challenges and opportunities in areas of digital cities, cyber-physical infrastructure systems (transportation, logistics, power), engineering of natural resources (land, water, energy), and sustainable and resilient design under the changing environment. Students collaborate to identify basic modeling issues, explore analysis tools, and engage in teamwork to discuss the design and implementation of new technologies, policies, and systems in the real-world. Laboratory and field visits illustrate interesting natural phenomena and new engineering applications. Subject can count toward the 9-unit discovery-focused credit limit for first year students.

2.000 - Explorations in Mechanical Engineering - 2 units 

Broad introduction to the various aspects of mechanical engineering at MIT, including mechanics, design, controls, energy, ocean engineering, bioengineering, and micro/nano engineering through a variety of experiences, including discussions led by faculty, students, and industry experts. Reviews research opportunities and undergraduate major options in Course 2 as well as a variety of career paths pursued by alumni. Subject can count toward the 9-unit discovery-focused credit limit for first year students.

3.001 Introduction to Materials Science and Engineering - 3 units

Provides a broad introduction to topics in materials science and the curricula in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering's core subjects. Lectures emphasize conceptual and visual examples of materials phenomena and engineering, interspersed with guest speakers from both inside and outside academia to show possible career paths. Subject can count toward the 9-unit discovery-focused credit limit for first year students. Preference to first-year students. 

10.000 Engineering Molecular Marvels: Careers and ChemE at MIT - 2 units

Exposes students to the ways in which chemical technologies have profoundly altered the course of history. Discusses the next century's great challenges, such as curing cancer and supplying the planet's surging demand for clean water, food and energy, sustainably. Provides an overview of how ChemE students apply fundamental engineering principles and leverage technology, from molecules to systems, in the pursuit of practical solutions for these problems and more. Subject can count toward the 9-unit discovery-focused credit limit for first year students.

11.S01 - Urban Science for Public Good: Gender and Racial Equity in Artificial Intelligence - 3 units

Gender and racial equity are often central goals of urban planning. But what are gender and race? What happens when we start to measure and model these dimensions of identity? Conversely, what happens when we ignore gender and race in urban computation? This course introduces students to some of the leading scientists, theorists and practitioners who are working to challenge bias in AI and to use data and computation to work towards gender and racial equity in cities. Along the way, we will reflect on our own identities and learn critical concepts to navigate gender and race from fields such as urban planning, women's and gender studies, critical race studies, and computer science. Licensed for academic year 2019-2020 by the Committee on Curricula. Subject can count toward the 9-unit discovery-focused credit limit for first year-students.

11.S02 - Climate Justice and Cities - 3 units

Explores how the climate crisis will affect cities in the United States and globally, and what can be done to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Through discussion of the climate crisis, introduces students to major themes in urban studies and planning, including conceptions of urban justice, the role of environmental policy, the effects of the climate crisis on socioeconomic inequality, the contribution of the housing and transportation sectors to greenhouse gas emissions and to resilience, the role of urban design in protecting against rising sea levels, and how the crisis differentially affects cities in the Global North and South. We will discuss just responses to the climate crisis and just energy transitions as well as what individuals and institutions can do. Licensed for academic year 2019-2020 by the Committee on Curricula. Subject can count toward the 9-unit discovery-focused credit limit for first year-students.

12.00 Frontiers and Careers in Earth, Planets, Climate, and Life- 2 units

Provides a broad overview of topics, technologies, and career paths at the forefront of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. Introduces the complex interplay between physics, mathematics, chemistry, biology, and computational methods used to study processes associated with a changing Earth and climate, distant planets, and life. Sessions guided by faculty members discussing current research problems, and by EAPS alumni describing how their careers have evolved. Subject can count toward the 9-unit discovery-focused credit limit for first year students.

21G.012 Exploring Globalization through Chinese Food- 1 unit

Introduces students to some of the central themes of cultural globalization through the case study of Chinese food. An exploration of the cuisine in the local Boston area exposes students to the topics of global trade, migration, transnational business and labor, the transnational dissemination of knowledge, and cultural production. Readings and films include cookbooks, memoirs, reportage and documentaries. Includes walking tours of Boston's Chinatown. Students produce a blog to document their findings. Concludes with a Chinese cooking workshop. Subject can count toward the 9-unit discovery-focused credit limit for first year students. Limited to 15; preference to first-year students.

21G.013 Discovering Multilingual Boston: Voices of Immigrant Communities - 3 units

This discovery subject will introduce first-year students to the 21G curriculum through exposure to the importance of global languages in our local community. Introduces students to Boston’s multilingual richness and vibrant immigrant communities through an exploration of the city’s diverse cultures and neighborhoods.  Readings and films provide an overview of Boston’s recent immigrant profile, document key issues within immigrant communities and provide testimonies of lived experience.  Field trips and guest speakers allow students to visit and learn from organizations working with immigrants in Boston neighborhoods.  Students produce a “mini-ethnography” of one of Boston’s diverse neighborhoods via reflections on a visit to a neighborhood restaurant.  Course concludes with a “take-out pot luck, in which students share their experiences along with a dish brought from their neighborhood restaurant.  Subject can count toward the 9-unit discovery-focused credit limit for first year students.

21H.000 The History of Now - 1 unit

Exposes students to the study of history for its own sake and also for a deeper understanding of the present and the future. Explores current events in a historical perspective. Each week a different MIT historian will discuss their research in the context of current national and global events. Subject can count toward the 9-unit discovery-focused credit limit for first-year students; preference to first-year students.

22.011 Nuclear Engineering: Science, Systems and Society – 3 units

Introduction to the basic physics of nuclear energy and radiation, with an emphasis on the unique attributes and challenges of nuclear energy as a low-carbon solution. Discusses peaceful applications of ionizing radiation, such as reactors for materials science research, nuclear medicine, and security initiatives. Explores fission energy, establishing the scientific, engineering, and economic basis for power reactors. Describes the latest advances in nuclear reactor technology. Introduces magnetic fusion energy research, with lectures covering the scientific and engineering basis of tokamaks, the state-of-the-art in world fusion experiments, and the MIT vision for a high-magnetic field fusion reactor. Uses radiation detection equipment to explore radioactivity in everyday life.

SP.247 Exploring Majors at the Intersection of Engineering, Life Sciences & Medicine – Units arranged (1 or 3)

Interactive introduction to the several majors at MIT that offer curricula bridging engineering and life sciences, through presentations by faculty, current students, and alumni. Representatives of these departments (Courses 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 6-7, 7, 9, 10, and 20, as well as the BME minor) cover aptitudes of typical students, culture, class offerings and roadmaps, and unique opportunities. Provides first-year students practical advice about how to select, prepare for and thrive in each major.

SP.248 Discover the Magic of Project-Based Engineering: NEET! – 1 unit

Introduces students to hands-on, project-based learning in interdisciplinary engineering education via five Threads spanning Courses 1, 2, 3, 6, 10, 11, 16, 20, and 22: Advanced Materials Machines, Autonomous Machines, Digital Cities, Living Machines, and Renewable Energy Machines. Provides an overview of NEET (New Engineering Education Transformation), a three-year program beginning sophomore year, which seeks to engage students in project-centric learning through making and discovering, as well as practicing distinct ways of thinking, including analytical, creative, critical, ethical and systems-level thinking. Each lecture will focus on one of the five threads and will consist of a faculty-student-led presentation and a visit to the thread's active lab space to participate in a hands-on learning experience.

SP.253 Challenge Your Self-Identity to Grow and Achieve Life and Career Happiness – 2 units

Are your goals your own? Or do they represent what others wish for you to achieve? Have the evil tendrils of imposter syndrome ever plagued you? We are our own worst enemies when it comes to our success in our lives and careers. Throughout our lives, we absorb labels, identities, and imposed goals from those around us. Reflecting, and broadening these goals can help one break out of fixed thinking and start focusing on how to communicate their ideas and goals to others. This course seeks to challenge students to shift from a static mindset into one of growth, seek contentedness through purpose, and gain skills to better present themselves and their ideas. Instructional activities will include self-reflection (written/oral), interviews, alum panels, and short assignments outside the classroom. Outside assignments include individual and group work.

SP.254 Low Carbon Energy in Research and Application – 3 units

One of the major challenges of our time is to provide more energy to a growing world population while simultaneously reducing carbon emissions to combat climate change. Climate science shows that it is urgent to accomplish this soon, as the residence times of most greenhouse gasses are large. Subject offers exposure to relevant research that is being done in this context at MIT. Students review short papers on low carbon technologies and climate change; hear from faculty, researchers, and industry representatives associated with the MITEI Low Carbon Energy Centers; and create a digital story exploring the connections between the challenges, research, and current deployment of technologies. Offers context to students' future academic work and exposes students to ways in which many MIT majors apply to energy.

Fall 2019 FYD Subjects

Subjects listed below may change. 

1.008 Solving Big Engineering Problems– 3 units

Introduction to big engineering problems that span our built infrastructure and natural environment. Topics promote high-level thinking and basic problem-solving skills for societal problems in the domains of civil and environmental engineering. Lectures based on case studies that emphasize key challenges and opportunities in the areas of digital cities, cyber-physical infrastructure systems (transportation, logistics, power), engineering of natural resources (land, water, energy), and sustainable and resilient design under the changing environment. Students collaborate to identify basic modeling issues, explore analysis tools, and engage in teamwork to discuss the design and implementation of new technologies, policies, and systems in the real-world. Laboratory and field visits illustrate interesting natural phenomena and new engineering applications. 

1.009 Climate Change– 3 units

Provides an introduction to global climate change processes, drivers, and impacts. Offers exposure to exciting MIT research on climate change. Students explore why and how the world should solve this global problem and how they can contribute to the solutions. Students produce a mini-project on the topic. 

4.001 Where Is and What Is Architecture and Design?– 3 units

Facilitates the exploration of architecture, art and design majors and minors at MIT. Also points to the presence of design in a variety of careers. A selection of MIT faculty and alumni from various disciplines lecture and lead discussions on the role of design in their respective area of expertise. To help students understand the breadth of design thinking, there will be visits to local architecture and design firms, as well as companies in various disciplines with design departments. Students interview an MIT alumni currently working as an architect or designer at their office, then present what they discovered to the class. 

10.000 Engineering Molecular Marvels: Careers and ChemE at MIT– 2 units 

Exposes students to the ways in which chemical technologies have profoundly altered the course of history. Discusses the next century's great challenges, such as curing cancer and supplying the planet's surging demand for clean water, food and energy, sustainably. Provides an overview of how ChemE students apply fundamental engineering principles and leverage technology, from molecules to systems, in the pursuit of practical solutions for these problems and more. 

14.009 Economics and Society's Toughest Problems– 3 units

Should we trade more with China? Why are some countries poor, and some countries rich? Why are the 1% getting richer? Should the US have universal health insurance? How can you fix failing schools? What should we do to prevent the next Great Recession? Economics shows you how to think about some of the toughest problems facing society -- and how to use data to get some answers. This exploratory course will feature a series of lectures by MIT's economics faculty, showing how their cutting-edge research can help you answer these questions and more. 

15.000 Explorations in Management– 3 units

Broad introduction to the various aspects of management including analytics, accounting and finance, operations, marketing, entrepreneurship and leadership, organizations, economics, systems dynamics, and negotiation and communication. Introduces the field of management through a variety of experiences as well as discussions led by faculty or industry experts. Also reviews the three undergraduate majors offered by Sloan as well as careers in management. 

20.001 Introduction to Professional Success and Leadership in Biological Engineering - 3 units

Interactive introduction to the discipline of Biological Engineering through presentations by alumni practitioners, with additional panels and discussions on skills for professional development. Presentations emphasize the roles of communication through writing and speaking, building and maintaining professional networks, and interpersonal and leadership skills in building successful careers. Provides practical advice about how to prepare for job searches and graduate or professional school applications from an informed viewpoint. Prepares students for UROPs, internships, and selection of BE electives. Subject can count toward the 9-unit discovery-focused credit limit for first-year students.  

21G.014 Introduction into Russian Politics and Society: A Discovery Subject - 3 units

Introduces students to contemporary Russia through the analysis of major political, social, and cultural trends. Considers the role of identity, journalism, and music as instruments of political power. Addresses the issue of climate change and analyzes Russians’ perception of environmental threats to the country. Study materials include academic and media articles, as well as video clips.

24.93 The Search for Meaning – 2 units

"We create islands of meaning in the sea of information" (Freeman Dyson). In this subject, we will explore a central feature of human nature: we are meaning-seeking engines. There are many ways of encoding and extracting meaning. We will talk about smoke signals, talking drums, alphabets, Universal Grammar, artificial languages, the problem of first contact, code breaking, Sherlock Holmes, the genetic code, and much more. We will bring in ideas from information theory, cryptography, linguistics, logic, psychology, anthropology, computer science, philosophy, and literature. Includes some reading and thinking outside class, but no problem sets or papers.

SP.245 The Sum of All Courses– 2 units

Provides an overview of the wide variety of majors and joint majors as well as minors and concentrations at MIT. At each lecture, faculty from two to three departments describe their fields. One-hour seminars and panels are given on informative and engaging topics such as, “The Rationale Behind the MIT Curriculum”, “The Purpose of an Education”, “Integrating by Parts and Other Life Hacks”, “Etiquette and Why it Is Important”,  “So, Darwin, Shakespeare, and Newton Walk into a Bar”, “How to Avoid Burnout”, “What is your Implicit Bias?”, “How to be a Good Human”, “Social Impact, Unintended Consequences, and Moral Hazards”, and include panel discussions with the MIT Administration and MIT’s distinguished professors. Students are required to attend 30π % of the lectures for credit.

SP.246 The Future: Global Challenges and Questions– 3 units

Explores global challenges through the perspective of an array of majors / disciplines at MIT. Generative and creative questioning activities and reflective discussions introduce the intellectual breadth at the Institute and provide students with tools to develop their ability to question the world and their place in it. Aims to inspire and guide students to consider how they will shape and become a part of the future they want. 

SP.250 Transforming Good Intentions into Good Outcomes - 3 units

Explore hard choices, ethical dilemmas, and the risk of failure in the humanitarian, tech, climate change, and health sectors. Students explore case studies presented by MIT alums, faculty, staff, students or community practitioners, and engage in simulations and facilitated discussions. Case studies are based on conundrums that MIT stakeholders have faced while trying to make the world a better place. They will expose students to ethical frameworks and standards for social engagement and intervention. Students will consider the choices faced, stakeholders involved, possible impact, and relevant MIT resources. Each student will produce a set of guiding questions to ask of themselves and others as they embark on social change work and will access a network of experienced MIT stakeholders.

SP.251 How to Change the World: Experiences from Social Entrepreneurs - 3 units

Every week, students meet a new role model who demonstrates what it means to change the world through social entrepreneurship. Students meet individual entrepreneurs, get immersed in the ecosystem that supports them, and visit MIT labs and startups in the Cambridge innovation community. Each session covers an aspect of social entrepreneurship, from identifying opportunities for change to market fit to planning for scale. Through these speakers and field trips, students gain a greater understanding of how technology-based, impactful solutions can address global challenges. Students learn to identify and address social and environmental problems and understand the relevance of this work for their time at MIT. They will see how to bring their ideas to fruition and extend their ties with the Solve community.

SP.252 Careers in Medicine - 3 units

Through this course, students will explore careers in medicine and health care. It will also explore potential majors for students looking to go into these different careers, which include physicians, physician-scientists, research scientists, biomedical engineers, bioinformatics analysts, computational biologists, health data scientists, health system managers, and health economists. Majors could include biological engineering, biology, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, computer science, and more. Allows students to explore how they can have an impact in the field of medicine in a variety of different ways. Exposes students to career paths that are patient-facing (clinical) as well as career paths that are behind the scenes. Includes field trips to nearby labs and companies.