Alumni Letters

A Home Away from Home
MakerWorkshop has truly become a home for me (“Expanding Makerworld,” May/June 2016). After I switched from a fluid dynamics lab for my master’s to one heavily focused on design and fabrication for my PhD, the community it fostered helped me quickly learn the skills I needed. But more than that, it has given me an amazing group of friends. I did not really feel I had found my “people” at MIT until I joined MakerWorkshop about three years into my time at the Institute. The space attracts so many exceptional people, and I have had the pleasure of getting to know many of them, trading advice and expertise, and creating a space on campus that creates new makers every day.

Maha Niametullah Haji, SM ’15
Cambridge, Massachusetts

I came to MIT MakerWorkshop about two years ago to make parts for my UROP project, and soon I made it my summer goal to collect all the badge stickers that show you are allowed to use the machines. I got all of them after a month. I started to work on small personal projects, and most of my gifts now are things I make myself.

After hanging around the shop a lot, I joined the Social Team and started organizing the Fab Fridays. This is when I learned that carving pumpkins should only be done with power tools, how easy it is to make hammer-shaped cookie cutters, and that you can never have too much ice cream at a social event. A year after that, I became the social chair and a part of MakerWorkshop’s executive committee myself, and it has been one of the highlights of my undergraduate life.

Nina Petelina ’17
Cambridge, Massachusetts

MakerWorkshop was created by students who focused on students’ practical needs as they set out to design a one-stop shop covering the full cycle of design, fabrication, and validation. It also offers extensive measurement and instrumentation equipment, particularly valued by graduate students wanting to verify their designs and their work in a convenient place. Designed to foster learning, MakerWorkshop has become an educational space that’s accessible to all members of the Department of Mechanical Engineering.  

Aaron Ramirez, the first MakerWorkshop president, describes it best: despite its material capital, MakerWorkshop is not a professional machine shop and will never pretend to be. We do not have professional staff; we have student mentors, some as young as sophomores. It is a “student lounge” dedicated to mechanical design, where people can learn by making and by teaching. For most of us mentors, the MakerWorkshop community has also become an important part of our social lives. Many of us are grateful for this strong support network that helps us carry out research.

Margaux Filippi, SM ’16
Cambridge, Massachusetts


Catching Some Rays
The article “Sunrise on Vassar Street” (May/June 2017) brought back memories of my 1958 undergraduate thesis, “The Influence of Reflected Foreground Radiation on the Performance of a Solar Collector.” Throughout the fall and winter I would climb up to the roof of Building 10, where I measured the reflected radiation on the solar collector. I simulated the presence of snow, grass, and concrete by using white, green, and gray bedroom sheets. When I thawed out in the early spring, I presented my results to my advisor, Professor Hoyt C. Hottel. Dr. Hottel was a very reserved individual, so I really don’t know whether my studies represented one great step or one baby step in the study of solar energy.

Ken Auer ’58
Johnson City, Tennessee


The Case of the Missing Degree
We were most pleased and honored to be profiled in the May/June 2017 issue of Technology Review. But when the issue arrived and we eagerly opened it to our profile, we were astonished to discover that one of our degrees was missing! Should we be worried that, for some reason, our beloved alma mater has rescinded Gail’s ScD?

Gail Marcus ’68, SM ’68, ScD ’71
Michael Marcus ’68, ScD ’72
Cabin John, Maryland

Editor’s note:
With so many degrees between the two of you, we lost track of one of them in a production glitch. Rest assured that you still have your doctorate, Gail! We sincerely apologize for the error.

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