During his undergraduate days, Greg Tao ‘10 often showed visitors to Burton-Conner a photo collage hanging in the hall near his room. He pointed to a picture–a wild-haired young man with horn-rimmed glasses, peering deviously around a doorway, armed with a handful of shaving cream.
“That’s my dad!” Tao would say cheerfully.
Long before Greg’s father, Purdue University professor Bernard Tao ‘76, SM ‘77, was a student (and enthusiast of shaving-cream wars), residents of Burton-Conner had been making permanent photo collages, also called floor boards, to commemorate their time together. More than 30 floor boards are still on display. In one photo, a guy with a staticky halo of hair looks straight into the camera; in another, a woman with a battle-ready frying pan barrels down a hall.
“I think the really cool part of the board is that it solidifies in time a group of people who chose to live together and will never live together again,” says Greg Tao.
Burton-Conner is home to more than 350 residents during the school year. Each of the dorm’s nine floors–five on the Burton side, four on the Conner side–has a distinct personality. Tao says that his floor is characterized by parties; other floors are known to be more athletic or more pirate-focused.
Other dorms also have features that reflect residents’ culture, such as the elaborate student-made murals at Senior Haus and Bexley. Students say those creations reinforce the sense of history and shared experience in their dorm, and alumni cite them as vivid visual reminders of their student experience.
“The fact that these projects are permanent is really key,” says Tao. “I think it’s like a mark you get to make. It says, ‘I was here; this was my experience.’ When you come back, you’ll remember it.”
Last summer, Tao interned at Ethicon Endo-Surgery, a Cincinnati company specializing in minimally invasive medical devices. In the fall, he returned to MIT to begin a master’s degree in mechanical engineering and took up residence in a fraternity house near campus.
Geoffrey Hinton tells us why he’s now scared of the tech he helped build
“I have suddenly switched my views on whether these things are going to be more intelligent than us.”
ChatGPT is going to change education, not destroy it
The narrative around cheating students doesn’t tell the whole story. Meet the teachers who think generative AI could actually make learning better.
Meet the people who use Notion to plan their whole lives
The workplace tool’s appeal extends far beyond organizing work projects. Many users find it’s just as useful for managing their free time.
Learning to code isn’t enough
Historically, learn-to-code efforts have provided opportunities for the few, but new efforts are aiming to be inclusive.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.