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Alumni Connection
September 1, 2005


Mike fincke 89 didnt intend to upstage anyone. Yet when he decided to attend his 15th class reunion by accepting an invitation to Technology Day 2004, he had little choice but to make a grand entrance. Thats because he arrived smack in the middle of the program via a live satellite hookup from his current home aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

Though more than 8,000 kilometers from Cambridge and traveling at 27,000 kilometers per hour, Colonel Fincke arrived at 11:45 a.m. sharp and was all smiles as he engaged in a lively question-and-answer session with MIT president Charles M. Vest.

Fincke told the packed house at Kresge Auditorium that he and his crewmate, Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, were currently hard at work on the Spheres (for Synchronized Position Hold Engage and Reorient Experimental Satellites) project developed by the MIT Space Systems Laboratory. Fincke and Padalka are experimenting with the projects soccer-ball-sized satellites in order to define the basic guidance laws governing them in microgravity conditions. If successful, Fincke says, these new satellites may be used as valuable robotic assistants to aid astronauts inside and outside the ISS.

One of the things that were struggling with right now is that we havent really taken a good look at the outside of our space station for about a year and a half, said Fincke. So having an autonomous robotic vehicle with camera video capability really helps us out. Its a valuable piece of equipment and an important experiment.

Though his current workload in space is extensive, Mike assured his fellow alums that it still doesnt compare to his days at MIT. He also said that his education at MIT prepared him well for the international aspect of his career.

My MIT education was the ideal preparation for working internationally, which is one of the aspects I love about my job, said Colonel Fincke. International collaborations like the ISS show what mankind is capable of when we work constructively instead of destructively.

Colonel Finckes mission began on April 18 aboard a Soyuz rocket launched from Kazakhstan. He will spend six months on the ISS as flight engineer and NASA science officer for Expedition 9. Fincke said that his trip to space is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream and that his only regret is that hell miss the birth of his second child.

To the delight of the crowd, Fincke ended the interview with a gravity-free cartwheel, which prompted a long round of applause in appreciation for his taking time out to return to MIT. – Jim Wolken

Erika Ebbel 04 Wins Miss Massachusetts

Hold onto your pocket protectorsMIT alumni have accomplished yet another first: Erika Ebbel 04 has won the Miss Massachusetts pageant and now has her sights clearly set on becoming Miss America.

Alumni can root for Erika on September 18, 2004, when the Miss America pageant broadcasts live from Atlantic City, NJ, on ABC. This years show marks the 50th anniversary of the Miss America pageant on television and the 83rd Miss America pageant overall. Massachusetts has never produced a Miss America. Then again, Massachusetts has never sent an MIT alumna as its representative. Tune in as history could very well be made.

ALC Registration Under Way

The alumni leadership conference (ALC) is scheduled to take place October 12, 2005, on the MIT campus.

The annual conference for volunteers features two days of workshops, training programs, and networking events designed to aid alumni in their volunteer activities. This years conference, Focused Innovation, Global Collaboration: Alumni and MIT Lead the Way, will delve into the innovative ways MIT alumni volunteers are making a difference in local communities and around the globe.

The cost to attend the conference is $25, and registration can be done online at

Alumni Fund Sets Record in 04

The MIT alumni fund closed out fiscal year 2004 on a record-setting note. Alumni Fund director Monica Ellis 91 announced that the fund set an all-time record for number of alumni donors, with 31,205. (The previous record was 30,815, set in 1998.) Alumni Fund gifts totaled $31,467,990, the third-highest total in fund history. Overall, 2004 was a strong year for the fund, according to Ellis, who noted graduate alumni donors and parent donors also set records in 2004.

The Alumni Fund plays a very important role in the health of MIT, said Ellis. The participation in 2004 has been tremendous and continues to speak volumes about the interest that alumni, parents, and friends have for the future success of the Institute.

Board of Directors for 2005

A staple of reunions is the announcement of the new members of the Board of Directors for the MIT Alumni Association. Selected by the National Selection Committee, new members are introduced during a dinner reception held during reunions. Below is a complete list of the Associations Board of Directors.

Linda C. Sharpe 69

Robert L. Blumberg 64 
Henry H. Houh 89
Kenneth Wang 71 
Chiquita V. White 85 

District 1
Vincent W. James 78
District 2 
Lucinda Linde 82
District 3
Kim L. Hunter 86
District 4 
John E. Plum 74
District 5 
Carol C. Martin 77
District 6 
Allan C. Schell 55 
District 7
Jeffrey M. Weissman 69
District 8 
David A. Dobos 77
District 9 
Thomas C. Gooch 77 
District 10
Mark Y. D. Wang 87
District 11 
Frederick W. Lam, PhD 89

R. Robert Wickham 93
Elizabeth Winston 94
Chair, Alumni Fund Board 
Thomas C. Davis 84

The Class of 1979 class photo

Wilbur Houston 33 visits with C. Yardley Chittick 22 at Technology Day.

MIT Alumni Association president Paula J. Olsiewski, PhD 79, passes the gavel to incoming president Linda C. Sharpe 69.

Alumnae Mitali Dhar and Seema Nagpal, both 99, enjoy a laugh during reunion.

The Class of 1959 competes in the annual Reunion Row race.

Alumni get up close and personal at the Tech Challenge Games.

Fiftieth-Reunion Gala Subcommittee: Paul Gray 54, Joseph Blake 54, Harvey
Steinberg 54, and Robert Warshawer 54

New honorary members of the MIT Alumni Association: Marilee Jones, dean of admissions, Professor Emeritus Warren M. Rohsenow, and Joseph P. Recchio, Alumni Association director of operations and information systems

Alumni from the Class of 1994 enjoy a look at their freshman yearbook.

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