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First Year Advising Seminars 2022: Titles: A thru J

Below are the seminars with Titles A-J that are being offered in AY2022-23. You will apply for the seminars of interest to you by June 13.

8.A06 Accounting, Corporate Finance, and the Real World 

  • Matthew Cubstead 
  • Physics 
  • Meets: TBA

Starts with a basic introduction to financial accounting (the ABCs of accounting principles, cash flow, and balance sheets) and then delves into issues of corporate finance. Topics include the time value of money, the corporate cost of capital, balance sheet analysis, fraud, and financial forecasting. There will be a few real-life case studies and discussions of actual events/mergers/market crashes, etc. No prior accounting or economics experience required.

Matt Cubstead is the Administrative Officer of the Physics Department. He has an MBA in Finance and worked for several years as a financial consultant and then as a Vice-President in the corporate lending area of a major national bank.

EC.A791 A Balanced Life 

  • John Dozier, ICEO 
  • Maryanne Kirkbride, ICEO 
  • Meets: TBA

“A Balanced Life” will give students the tools they need to set themselves up for success both inside and outside the classroom — recalibrate study skills for the MIT environment; get the inside scoop on resources to help you go further, faster; continue to clarify your purpose, meaning and direction and understand and value the advantages one gets from living a balanced life.

John Dozier is the Director, Institute Community and Equity Officer (ICEO)

Maryanne Kirkbride is the Deputy, Institute Community and Equity Officer as well as the Executive Administrator of MindHandHeart — a collaborative initiative on campus to advance an inclusive and welcoming climate. She is a nurse with a background in mechanical engineering and business. As a first year advisor for many years, she works to distill and pass on success tips from former advisees to current students.

8.A22 Black Holes, the Accelerating Universe, the Disordered Cosmos 

  • Prof. Edmund Bertschinger 
  • Physics 
  • Meets: TBA

This seminar will explore questions about astrophysics, its human dimensions, and more. What have we learned about spacetime and what mysteries remain? Who explores these questions, and how? Who is missing from the history of knowledge, and why? Can curiosity and justice co-exist in cosmology? This seminar will explore these questions and more. Attendees will read and discuss <em>A Briefer History of Time</em> by Stephen Hawking and <em>The Disordered Cosmos</em> by Chanda Prescod-Weinstein.

Ed Bertschinger is Professor of Physics with an affiliation in the Program in Women’s and Gender Studies. His research interests include both theoretical astrophysics (gravitation, cosmology, and numerical methods) and the social sciences (physics education and how change happens in higher education). Prof. Bertschinger was the first in his family to graduate from college. He received his BS in physics from Caltech (after being declined admission at his top three colleges including MIT) and his PhD in Astrophysical Sciences from Princeton University in 1984, before joining MIT’s faculty in 1986. Prof. Bertschinger is passionate about education and feels strongly that more must be done to increase diversity and inclusion within the university and in the fields of science and engineering. Among the many honors he has received in his career are the Physics Department’s Buechner Teaching Prize for his undergraduate and graduate classes in general relativity, the Outstanding Freshman Advisor Award, and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Award from MIT.

3.A04 Blacksmithing and Physical Metallurgy 

  • Mr. Michael Tarkanian 
  • Materials Science and Engineering 
  • Meets: TBA

Physical metallurgy encompasses the relationships between the composition, structure, processing history and properties of metallic materials. In this seminar you’ll be introduced to metallurgy in a particularly “physical” way. We will focus on blacksmithing forging hot iron but may also venture into metal casting, machining, and welding, using both traditional and modern methods. The seminar meets once per week for an evening laboratory session, and once per week for discussion of issues in materials science and engineering that tie in to the laboratory work. Students will begin by completing some specified projects and progress to fabricating pieces of their own design.

Mike Tarkanian is a lecturer in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. His career as a materials scientist began in 1996 when he enrolled in a freshman advising seminar dealing with ancient technology and culture. Mike has been a member of the DMSE since then, as a student (BS ’00 and MS ’03), research affiliate, and staff member. Mike’s career and educational path is evidence that, at MIT, the simple choice of an advising seminar can result in profound experiences and unexpected opportunities.

12.A32 Cellular Automata: Models of the Earth System 

  • Prof. Glenn Flierl 
  • Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences 
  • Meets: TBA

Cellular automata are like “Life,” only better! Find out how we can use these models and their relatives to study processes important to Earth’s climate: the transport of heat and other properties, the dynamics of ecosystems, the flow of air and water. These models divide the (possibly very complex) spatial domain into “cells” and use rules which say how the “state” of the cell changes depending on its current value and on the values in the neighboring cells. Although they are computationally simple, the results can be fascinatingly complex and chaotic. We will construct and experiment with a variety of models; thinking about rules, programming the models (using Octave/Matlab or python/numpy), and discussions of the results will be required.

Glenn Flierl grew up in Ohio and, of course, became fascinated by the oceans. At least they certainly seemed more interesting than Lake Erie, and physical oceanography appeared to have better job prospects than building sets for Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. A reformed hacker, he now uses computers to help understand the Gulf Stream and ocean vortices.

MAS.A21 Choosing Problems Wisely 

  • Prof. Kevin Esvelt 
  • Media Arts & Sciences 
  • Meets: TBA

Which problems are so important that you should devote years of your life to solving them? It’s easy to say important, tractable, and neglected, but hard to determine whether any of those is true of a particular field or idea. We will explore evolutionary game theory, cognitive heuristics and biases, the history of technology, and various ethical frameworks to provide a toolkit for answering this critical question in time for you to do something about it. Finally, we’ll choose and conduct in-depth analyses of topics relevant to the future of technology and civilization.

Kevin Esvelt leads the Sculpting Evolution Group at the MIT Media Lab. Recognizing that gene drive systems based on CRISPR could alter wild populations of organisms, he and his colleagues chose to break with scientific tradition by revealing their findings and calling for open discussion and safeguards before demonstrating the technology in the lab. An outspoken advocate of open science as a way to accelerate discovery, improve safety, and build public trust, he hopes to use gene drive as a catalyst to reform the scientific enterprise. Apart from ecological engineering, research interests include molecular evolution, biological information transfer, and the neurogenetic bases of suffering and euphoria.

CC.A10 Concourse Seminar 

  • Prof. Anne McCants and Concourse Staff 
  • Concourse Program 
  • Meets: TBA

Note: Special sign up instructions: If you are interested in being part of the Concourse Learning Community, you must list CC.A10 as your first choice on the First Year Advising application. Concourse teaching staff will be the first-year advisors to all students who join the Concourse

The Concourse Fall Seminar supplements Becoming Human, our 12-unit fall humanities course. In Becoming Human, we consider a range of fundamental questions about such topics as the nature of happiness, justice, knowledge, love, and truth, taking as our guides the founders of the western intellectual tradition, the ancient Greeks. In the seminar every Friday, we further our understanding of these questions by examining more modern thinkers and by exploring intellectual and ethical quandaries at the heart of science, politics and philosophy. The seminar is a gathering of our whole community, students and faculty, for intellectual fellowship and lunch.

For more information:

Anne McCants studied economics, German, and history at Mount Holyoke College, and then completed her Masters degree in economics and Ph.D. in history at UCLA and UC Berkeley, respectively. She came to MIT in 1991 and is now a Margaret MacVicar Faculty Fellow. Her teaching is focused in the areas of European economic and social history and social science research methods. She is the author of Civic Charity in a Golden Age: Orphan Care in Early Modern Amsterdam (1997), and numerous articles on historical demography, material culture, and the standard of living in the Dutch Republic. She is currently engaged in two major projects: one examining the long-term roots of economic development with a particular focus on the role played by institutions of the family and gender equity, and developing new measures for the study of wellbeing; and the other an economic and institutional history of the movement to build cathedrals and other major churches in the Gothic style in northwestern Europe in the 12th and 13th centuries. She serves as President of the International Economic History Association and Editor of the journal Social Science History. Her favorite ways to unwind are walking her dog Katie, cooking, working with fibers and textiles, and digging in the garden.

21M.A12 Creation/Innovation: Arts at MIT 

  • Stacy DeBartollo 
  • Office of the Arts 
  • Meets: T3-5 (4-153)

Eight out of every ten students at MIT have a strong background in the arts. It is no surprise then, that the arts at MIT are recognized around the globe, for being amongst the most innovative and cutting-edge. With renowned arts-faculty, programming, initiatives, and events, MIT continues to contribute to the blossoming arts-science tradition. This seminar focused on the arts is your opportunity to get behind the scenes and see how the arts influence design, entrepreneurship, and research at MIT. We will investigate the arts at MIT by visiting many of the labs and institutions working in the arts on campus. We will attend lectures and demonstrations by artists and meet experts in the field. We will take advantage of the Council for the Arts tickets program and attend a local arts event with feedback from an expert in the field. We will take part in hands-on classes, learn new techniques from arts faculty, and have opportunities to collaborate on new projects exploring design and innovation.

For more information:

Stacy DeBartolo is the Finance and Operations Manager for the Arts at MIT and the MIT Center for Art, Science and Technology, and the Manager of the Student Art Association. Stacy has a B.A. in Art History from Lyon College in Batesville, Arkansas, and an M.A. in Art History and Non-Profit Management from Tufts University here in Massachusetts. Having lived in the greater Boston area for 20 years, Stacy loves to introduce students to the arts opportunities at MIT and around the city.

4.A02 DesignPlus: Exploring Design Across MIT

  • John Ochsendorf, Architecture 
  • Paul Pettigrew, Architecture
  • Meets: TBA

This seminar will help first-year students to explore possibilities in design across many fields at MIT. Design is a creative and interdisciplinary means of discovering problems and solutions. This seminar will help first-year students connect with design-oriented peers and faculty, and learn about ways to build design into the rest of their MIT education, regardless of major. The seminar is flexible to account for diverse student interests within the field of design. Through guest speakers, design exercises, and site visits, students will gain a broad perspective on designing and making across MIT.<br/><br/>Enrollment limited to students in the DesignPlus First Year Learning Community.

John Ochsendorf is professor in Course 1 (Civil and Environmental Engineering) and Course 4 (Architecture). He knows the MIT campus very well, having lived on campus as a head of house for seven years from 2010-2017 and having chaired the 2016 campus centennial celebrations. Like most professors, he is a student at heart and he looks forward to learning as we explore MIT together in this seminar.

2.A49 The Engineering and Physics of Radio Controlled Flying 

  • Prof. Daniel Frey 
  • Mechanical Engineering 
  • Meets: TBA

In this seminar, students will learn about the technologies underlying radio controlled airplanes. The topics will include flight mechanics, structures, propulsion, electronics, and mechanical design of actuation systems for control surfaces. Students will have the opportunity to experience both simulated and real flying and well as construction and/or modification of fixed wing aircraft.

Dan Frey is a professor of Mechanical Engineering and faculty director of D-Lab. His research concerns design processes and methods including robust design — ways of making systems work despite adverse conditions like manufacturing variability, wear, and deterioration. He is a commercially rated pilot and RC flying and model building enthusiast.

EC.A790 Engineering, Art, and Science 

  • Mr. Edward Moriarty 
  • Edgerton Center 
  • Meets: TBA

In this hands-on seminar, you will experience engineering, art and science by designing, building and refining your own projects. We meet in the Edgerton Student Project Lab/Makerlodge, located on historic Strobe Alley in Building 4 and surrounded by inspiring demonstrations and illustrations. The seminar is an opportunity for students to work on a project they find personally compelling while developing their creative, technical, and teamwork skills. We provide training and access to a range a traditional tools and materials for electronic and mechanical projects as well as Maker tools, including 3D printers, a laser cutter, sewing machine, microcomputers, etc. We support students in using an effective design process, iterating and prototyping, collaborating and creating community, and in pursuing their passions in their projects. Along the way, we will encounter concepts of introductory electronics, physics, programming, materials, aesthetics, graphic design, and whatever else we need to make really fun and engaging devices. Student projects have included computer-controlled interactive art, “liquid light,” innovative musical instruments, electrified skateboards, and underwater vehicles, to name a few. Our final project(s) might turn out to be a display for the MIT Museum or The Strobe Alley Corridor Lab. No prior engineering experience is needed; the only prerequisite is a desire to engage your heart, hands, and head in real projects!

Ed Moriarty ’76, an instructor with the MIT Edgerton Center, has been around MIT off and on ever since he showed up as a freshman in 1971. He has worked in various departments and labs around the institute and has been involved in numerous projects ranging from large scale electric generation analysis packages, to the MIT Shakespeare Electronic Archive. He has been a member of the MIT Logarhythms, Chorallaries, and the BackLogs Quartet. As a resident of “strobe alley” Ed relies mostly on fun, hands-on, in-lab, experience for presenting concepts … a refreshing change of approach from most of the book-learning done around here. He is active with many MIT student clubs and teams as well as with high-school engineering outreach.

11.A13 Environmental Justice: An Introduction to Civil Rights and Environmental Law 

  • Justin Steil 
  • Urban Studies and Planning 
  • Meets: TR3:30-5 (10-401)

This seminar introduces frameworks for analyzing and addressing inequalities in the distribution of environmental benefits and burdens, particularly by race and by class. It will start by exploring the foundations of the environmental justice movement from the perspectives of law and social science. The seminar will introduce students to basic principles of the U.S. legal system, with a focus on constitutional law, civil rights law, and environmental law. Through the course, students will be able to apply basic U.S. legal principles and conceptions of environmental justice to contemporary issues such as policy responses to climate change.

Justin Steil is an Associate Professor of Law and Urban Planning in MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning. His research examines legal and spatial dimensions of socio-economic inequality and strategies for advancing racial justice, particularly in the realms of housing policy, land use regulation, environmental justice, and immigration policy. He previously worked as advocacy director for a non-profit fighting predatory lending, planner for an environmental justice organization working with young people in the Bronx, program manager for a project bringing youth and prisoners into critical dialogues about justice, and trainer with a domestic violence crisis center instructing Ciudad Juarez police in the support of survivors of sexual assault.

10.A14 Exploring ChemE: Because the Molecules Matter! 

  • Hadley Sikes 
  • Chemical Engineering 
  • Meets: TBA

This seminar is for those who are deciding what to study at MIT and would like more information about Chemical Engineering as a possible major. We’ll address how to approach a choice-of-major decision, learn the basics of the ChemE curriculum, meet people who studied chemical engineering on their way to the variety of things they do now, and work on a project that will use some chemical engineering skills. By the end of it, we’ll try to give you confidence in your choice of major, whatever it turns out to be.

Hadley Sikes is an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering. Her research focuses on using chemical and biomolecular engineering to diagnose, treat, and understand disease.

10.A15 Exploring ChemE: Because the Molecules Matter!

  • Prof. Fikile Brushett 
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Meets: TBA

This seminar is for those who are deciding what to study at MIT and would like more information about Chemical Engineering as a possible major. We’ll address how to approach a choice-of-major decision, learn the basics of the ChemE curriculum, meet people who studied chemical engineering on their way to the variety of things they do now, and work on a project that will use some chemical engineering skills. By the end of it, we’ll try to give you confidence in your choice of major, whatever it turns out to be.

Fikile Brushett is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering. His research activities focus on enabling sustainable energy technologies through electrochemical engineering.

EC.A06 FLI into Fall 

  • J. Alex Hoyt 
  • Office of the Vice Chancellor 
  • Meets: TBA

FLI into Fall gives First Generation and/or Low Income (FLI) first-year students a jumpstart on the MIT experience. The seminar will provide students with the knowledge and resources to take advantage of all MIT has to offer both inside and outside the classroom. Students will learn to refine study skills, prepare for career fair/job interviews, identify personal strengths, find experiential learning opportunities, and much more. The seminar will meet weekly and have special guest presentations from a variety of institute offices including Student Financial Services (SFS), Career Advising and Professional Development (CAPD), UROP, PKG Public Service Center, and more.

Alex Hoyt is a staff associate in the Office of the First Year (OFY) and the staff advisor to the First Generation and/or Low Income (FLI) student group. Alex has worked at MIT for over a decade as a staff member with the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) and OFY. In both these roles Alex has advised undergraduate students on how to navigate MIT while partnering with a range of colleagues in related offices to offer targeted programs to meet student needs.

6.A06 First.nano – Fabricate Your Own Solar Cell in MIT.nano Clean Room 

  • Jesus del Alamo, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science 
  • Jorg Scholvin, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science 
  • Meets: TBA

Take a peek at the nanoworld at the brand new clean-room facilities of MIT.nano and become the nano-engineer that you have always wanted to be! Decked out in a bunny suit at the ultra-clean facilities of MIT.nano, this seminar will offer you a hands-on experience fabricating and testing a silicon solar cell. With us, you will learn about Si nanotechnology and solar cells physics and testing. Marvel at how awesome and mysterious the world looks and behaves at the nanoscale.

Jesus del Alamo is the Donner Professor and Professor of Electrical Engineering at MIT. He became fascinated with semiconductors as an undergraduate student at the Polytechnic University of Madrid where he was involved in solar cell research. His current research interests are focused on nanoelectronics based on novel semiconductors and new material systems and physical principles such as ferroelectrics and ionic devices.

Jorg Scholvin grew up in Germany and came to MIT as an undergraduate in 6-3. A fascination with microfabrication resulted in a switch to 6-1 and a Ph.D. on CMOS technology for RF power applications. After working at UBS in CT for three years, Jorg returned to MIT working on research combining microfabrication and neuroengineering, and co-founded an SBIR-funded company that commercialized the devices. In 2018, Jorg joined MIT.nano as the Assistant Director of User Services at Fab.nano, where he acts as technical consultant to researchers joining and using the fabrication facility.

2.A16 Founder’s Journey: Startups and Entrepreneurship 

  • Mr. Kenneth Zolot 
  • Office of Digital Learning 
  • Meets: TBA

Lots of amazing companies were started by people who went to MIT. What were those people like as first-years? Come find out. In Founder’s Journey, we’ll provide you with connections to the key parts of the Cambridge startup ecosystem. We’ll go visit nearby companies and startup accelerators. We’ll provide a forum in which you’ll meet like-minded students and co-create your entrepreneurial path. It’s an immersion into the resources and mentors that surround you. Some of MIT’s most accomplished and recognized entrepreneurs will visit this seminar. And some of MIT’s future most accomplished and recognized entrepreneurs will be enrolled in this seminar.<br/><br/>Ken Zolot will lead the Founder’s Journey seminar. However, he will not be advising students. Instead, seminar participants will be assigned to one of several affiliated faculty advisors.

Ken Zolot is a Senior Lecturer in MIT’s Office of Digital Learning. He leads “The Founder’s Journey”, an immersive experience for first-years seeking to demystify the process of starting a company. Ken is also a professor of creative entrepreneurship at The Berklee College of Music. He has founded several companies and continues to serve as an adviser or director for many entrepreneurial organizations, including the Deshpande Foundation, Olin College of Engineering, HackNY, FIRST Robotics, Techstars, and The Kauffman Foundation. Ken holds a Master of Science degree from MIT in Management of Technology, a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Syracuse University.

7.A18 Genes in the News

  • Dr. Ky Lowenhaupt 
  • Biology 
  • Meets: TBA

A lesson from current biology – you are not alone. In fact, you are not all one. Every human is a village, or maybe a universe made of human cells, bacteria, fungi, viruses, and we have not finished taking the census. Every player has a role in health or disease, and the microbiome are not just interlopers who are growing on or in you.

We will select topics of interest to the members of the seminar with a focus on the human microbiome. Would you like to know more about fecal transplantation as therapy? The role of the gut microbiome in mental health? The lung microbiome is being investigated as a weapon against CoVID-19. You will suggest questions that intrigue you and use our seminar to investigate some of them. Each student will select a favorite from among our topics and lead a discussion on it. Everyone will be expected to read about all topics and actively participate in lively discussions.

Ky Lowenhaupt is a Lab Manager in the Center for Synthetic Biology. As a researcher, she used a variety of biochemical and biophysical approaches to study the ways in which structural features of DNA affect cell function. Her interests are broadened by her artistic daughter, her involvement in theater, and her general curiosity about things. No matter what the subject, she likes to know what we really know, and how we know it.

12.A56 GPS: Where Are You? 

  • Prof. Thomas Herring 
  • Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences 
  • Meets: M3-4.30 (56-169)

The use of Global Positioning System (GPS) in a wide variety of applications has exploded in the last few years. Hikers, drivers, sailors, and aviators use the system as a navigation aid but many others use GPS in ways that were not considered during its design. Some of the most stringent uses come from meteorology, where the system is used to track water vapor in the atmosphere, and from geophysics, where it is used to measure continental drift, deformation leading up to earthquakes, and mean sea-level rise. In this seminar we explore how positions on the Earth were determined before GPS, how GPS and other Global Navigations Satellites Systems (GNSS) work, and the range of applications in which GPS/GNSS is now a critical element. In this seminar you will explore how to find locations using simple household items (simple, at least by MIT standards). You will use hand held GPS units to hunt for candy around campus and have access to expensive units for use on the top of the tallest building in Cambridge and to write messages that can be can be seen from space. This seminar is followed by an optional UROP in the spring semester where results from precise GPS measurements will be analyzed and displayed on the web.

Thomas Herring is Professor of Geophysics in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences. He uses GNSS to measure millimeter-level motions of the Earth’s surface in many regions around the world, including recently tall buildings, with the long-term aim of understanding earthquakes and other deformation processes. He also studies the Earth’s atmosphere with GPS through the refraction of GPS signals.

EC.A29 How to Beat the First Year and Establish Healthy Habits 

  • Master Sergeant Adam VanDeWalle 
  • Army ROTC 
  • Meets: TBA

Incoming first-year students begin their first semester at MIT with little experiences away from home. While dorm room assignments and cafeteria availability ease the transition, many students struggle to manage their newfound independence. This seminar aims to increase your confidence as a first year navigating an unfamiliar environment by developing critical skills that can be used every day.

The dynamic course is broken up into three modules:

Develop life skills including communication, goal setting, time and stress management, and comprehensive fitness required in adulthood.

Familiarization with learning styles and critical thinking to increase educational maturity.<br/><br/>- Introduction to leadership and how to leverage the necessary skills.

Taught by combat veterans who have led organizations of up to 120 people, this seminar will use classroom instruction, small group discussion, and practical exercises to develop important life skills in what will undoubtedly resonate with young adults and emerging leaders.

Location will be in the Army Classroom on the first floor of the MIT Army ROTC HQs across the street from the MIT Baseball Field (W59-201 Vassar Dr. 02139).

Master Sergeant Adam J. VanDeWalle is originally from Cedar Rapids, Nebraska. He joined the Army in 2022, where he has worked as a combat engineer with six overseas deployments in total. He is a former drill sergeant, has earned his bachelors degree in history and really enjoys teaching, which is what brought him to the Senior ROTC program in 2021.

ES.A100 An Introduction to Maker Skills 

  • David Custer 
  • Experiential Study Group 
  • Meets: F4 (24-611A)

Introduction to making and use of MIT’s maker spaces intended to build skills needed for designing, conducting, and completing experiments and design projects, such as may be encountered in undergraduate classwork and research activities. Includes maker space training (i.e., wood shop, digital fabrication, and electronics fabrication) and open-ended design projects, with work evenly divided between class, homework, and maker space activities. Limited to [8] by makerspace training and scheduling; priority given to ESG students. 

Dave Custer has been teaching hands-on, interdisciplinary subjects at MITs Experimental Study Group since he was a student in the program, over 40 years ago. After graduation, he spent a few years as an electrical engineer before returning to teach at MIT. He is also a long-standing lecturer in WRAP, the Writing, Rhetoric, and Professional Communication unit of MIT?s Comparative Media Studies and Writing program where he teaches communication, primarily in mechanical and electrical engineering CI-Ms. In 2013, he was a recipient of the James A. and Ruth Levitan Award for Excellence in Teaching in the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. He is a member and former president of the UIAA Safety Commission, the global standards organization for climbing and mountaineering equipment. Dave spends his free time in the vertical world.