Launching the Class of 2002
World Bank president James D. Wolfensohn told more than 2,100 graduates to be mindful of issues people in the Third World face. “The notion of two worlds is no longer a reality,” he said. “September 11 made us recognize the reality that was there September 10.”
Graduating students held up red signs giving Wolfensohn and the World Bank an F for their work in developing countries, and more than 100 protesters on Memorial Drive waved banners and beat drums before the ceremonies to protest World Bank policies.
“Seeking maximum returns on their investments is in conflict with alleviating poverty,” said Payal Parekh, a graduate student in earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences.
Wolfensohn discussed the importance of creating “planetary equity,” urging students to use their educations to address issues of poverty and development.
MIT president Charles M. Vest’s remarks also had an international flavor. He reaffirmed the Institute’s commitment to OpenCourseWare, the initiative that will post MIT course content on the Web over the coming decade. “We see it as part of a mission to raise the quality of education in every part of the world,” he said.
In response to debates in the U.S. Congress about restricting student visas, Vest said the United States should continue giving students from all parts of the world the opportunity to study at institutions like MIT. “We should not let fear close doors,” he said.
A video of Wolfensohn’s commencement address can be viewed on MIT World at web.mit.edu/mitworld.
Behind the Scenes at the MIT Museum
Ever wonder what the Institute’s attic looks like? Deborah Douglas, science and technology curator of the MIT Museum, gave alumni a peek at the museum’s newly renovated storage areas during reunion weekend.
Douglas started the tour by unveiling a strain gauge denture tenderometer, which looks like a pair of dentures attached to gears, that Aaron Brody ‘51, PhD ‘57, designed in 1956 to study food textures. In one brightly lit basement room, telephones, globes and student projects, each with its own call number, lined metal shelves protected by plastic sheets. Douglas also pointed out a vase from the 7th century B.C.E., the museum’s oldest item.
Douglas cherishes items that capture students’ experiences. “We use these objects to figure out what people were learning.”
Bruce Blanchard ‘57, SM ‘64, recognized the original wooden chairs from 10-250. “If you sit in them, you still fall asleep,” Douglas said.
Checking Out the Libraries
Alumni got a glimpse into both the past and the future during a tour of MIT’s libraries on reunion weekend. Starting at the Institute Archives and Special Collections library-the “memory” of the Institute-alumni viewed the past, chiefly rare books. Among them was Analytical Institutions for the Use of the Youth of Italy, the teaching text of Maria Gaetana Agnesi, who was one of the Western world’s first important woman mathematicians. Alumni also viewed plans for a new preservation center that will both care for MIT’s rare and unusual print works and digitize those works so they can serve the research needs of scholars around the world.
Then they got to look into the future with DSpace, a joint project between MIT Libraries and Hewlett-Packard to create a repository for digital materials and research produced at MIT. These materials are as much at risk of being lost as the fragile books in the Institute’s Special Collections. DSpace hopes to prevent that loss by creating a permanent storage space for digital work that otherwise might become inaccessible under changing standards. A handful of early adopters, including the Sloan School of Management, are helping MIT determine how contributors will use the space. DSpace is the first project of its kind, and the Institute plans to make its resources available to other top research institutions.
Science outside the Lab
Science can’t be conducted in a vacuum: that was the message hundreds of alumni heard at the Tech Day program “When Worlds Collide: Science, Politics and Power in the 21st Century.” The one-day program, held June 8, inspired discussion about the impact of science outside the lab, with one session in the morning and three in the afternoon.
Panelists during the morning session discussed the future of education in the sciences, the role of the media in reporting science news, and the challenges that arise when scientists and politicians work together to decide public-policy matters.
John M. Deutch ‘61, PhD ‘66, Institute Professor in chemistry and former director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, said, “Any issue that involves people and jobs has a political dimension.Significant problems cannot be categorized as technical or nontechnical.”
In an afternoon session on the future of engineering education, Daniel Roos ‘61, SM ‘63, PhD ‘66, explained that technology’s omnipresence today was the impetus for the Institute’s new interdisciplinary Engineering Systems Division. Panelists in another afternoon session, “Science and the Spin Doctors,” discussed how advocacy can distort scientific findings.
The final afternoon session explored areas of research at MIT, including artificial intelligence, genomics, technologies to improve the quality of life of older adults and environmental sustainability.
A Tech Day video can be viewed on the MIT World Web site at web.mit.edu/mitworld.
The damp, chilly weather did not deter 181 members of the Class of 1952 from taking their favored seats on Killian Court for MIT’s 136th commencement. It was a first-time event for at least two members of the class-Collin Scarborough and John Small-who did not attend their own graduation in Rockwell Cage. Scarborough did not register for commencement, and Small was already back home in New York, getting ready to ship out to Korea. And for class marshals Amos Dixon and Allan Chin, it was their first reunion.
But it was the fifth reunion for the class’s planning committee, which arranged for a smooth and eventful weekend. Chair Arnie A. Kramer, who also chaired the 25th-reunion committee, said the committee was thrilled by the turnout. “It’s probably the last time we’ll see each other as a group,” he said. “There will be more reunions, but not with the same verve and enthusiasm. It’s an extremely special event.”
As evidence of that enthusiasm, 63 percent of the class’s members contributed to the class gift of $13.1 million, which was presented to the Institute on Saturday at the Tech Day luncheon. Following festivities in Cambridge, 65 members of the class and their guests, 120 people total, spent a few days together at the Samoset Resort in Rockport, ME.
Defending the Title
Early Sunday morning, an enthusiastic crowd gathered for the annual Reunion Row competition on the Charles. Classmates and members of the MIT community arrived at the boathouse as early as an hour before the 8 a.m. contest to see if the Class of ‘92 could defend its title from five years ago. Seven boats-representing the reunion classes of 1952, 1962, 1972, 1977, 1982, 1992 and 1997-lined up for the sprint from the Harvard Bridge to the boathouse. And once again the Class of ‘92 proved its dominance, winning in one minute, 12.5 seconds. The Class of 1997 finished second in 1:16. Crewmembers of the 1992 boat included coxswain Jen Rigney, stroke Jeffrey Kuehn, and Dave Brenneis, Tom Klemas, Brad Layton, Adam Lechner, Adam Singer, Holly Simpson and Tyler Worden.