MIT News - Special events and guest speakers http://news.mit.edu/topic/mitspecial-events-rss.xml MIT News is dedicated to communicating to the media and the public the news and achievements of the students, faculty, staff and the greater MIT community. en Thu, 27 Feb 2020 10:55:57 -0500 Deep cuts in greenhouse emissions are tough but doable, experts say http://news.mit.edu/2020/deep-cuts-greenhouse-emissions-are-tough-doable-experts-say-0227 Speakers at MIT climate symposium outline the steps needed to achieve global carbon neutrality by midcentury. Thu, 27 Feb 2020 10:55:57 -0500 David Chandler | MIT News Office http://news.mit.edu/2020/deep-cuts-greenhouse-emissions-are-tough-doable-experts-say-0227 <p>How can the world cut its greenhouse gas emissions in time to avert the most catastrophic impacts of global climate change? It won’t be easy, but there are reasons to be optimistic that the problems can still be solved if the right kind of significant actions are taken within the next few years, according to panelists at the latest MIT symposium on climate change.</p> <p>The symposium, the fourth in a series of six this academic year, was titled “Economy-wide deep decarbonization: Beyond electricity.” Symposium co-chair Ernest Moniz explained in his introductory remarks that while most efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions tend to focus on electricity generation, which produces 28 percent of the total emissions, “72 percent of the emissions we need to address are outside the electricity sector.” These sectors include transportation, which produces 29 percent; industry, which accounts for 22 percent; commercial and residential buildings, at 12 percent; and agriculture, at 9 percent; according to 2017 figures.</p> <p>While many commitments have been made by nations, states, and cities to zero out or drastically cut their electricity-related emissions, Moniz pointed out that in recent years many places, including Boston, have expanded those commitments beyond electricity. “We’re now seeing economy-wide net-zero goals in cities, including Boston,” said Moniz, who is the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics and Engineering Systems Emeritus at MIT and a former U.S. Secretary of Energy.</p> <p>As the generation of electricity continues to get cleaner, he said, the next step will be to extend electrification to other sectors such as home heating and heavy transport. Then, to deal with the remaining sources that are too difficult or expensive to decarbonize, technologies to remove carbon from power plant emissions or directly out of the air will be needed. Such carbon dioxide removal technology will be essential, he said, to provide enough flexibility in planning for climate change mitigation.</p> <p>The symposium, held Tuesday in MIT’s Wong Auditorium and webcast live, was divided into three panels, addressing decarbonization of the transportation system and industry, development of low-carbon fuels, and large-scale carbon management including carbon removal from the air.</p> <p>While electrification of passenger cars has been accelerating in recent years and is expected to increase dramatically over the coming decade, other parts of the transportation system such as aircraft and heavy trucks will be more difficult and take longer to address.</p> <p>MIT professor of mechanical engineering Yang Shao-Horn described progress in increasing the amount of energy that can be stored in batteries of a given weight, a technology that will be crucial to enabling solar and wind power to produce an increasingly large share of electricity. With many new models of electric vehicles entering the market now, that industry “is experiencing explosive growth,” she said; the number of electric vehicles on the road is expected to grow a hundredfold over the next decade.</p> <p>Lithium-ion batteries have become today’s standard for energy storage, and the amount of power they can store per pound has improved tenfold over the last 10 years, Shao-Horn said. But further progress will require new battery chemistries, which are being pursued in many labs, including her own. Researchers are exploring a variety of promising avenues, including metal-air batteries using Earth-abundant metals. For some applications such as aircraft, however, batteries may never be sufficient. Instead, cost-effective ways of using carbon-free technology to make a liquid or gas fuel, such as hydrogen, will be needed. “Development of such fuels is still in its infancy,” she said, and requires more research.</p> <p>John Wall, former chief technology officer for Cummins, one of the world’s leading makers of diesel engines for heavy vehicles, said that after 100 years in business, that company last year introduced its first electric truck. But what’s really needed, at least in the near term, he said, are carbon-neutral “drop-in” fuels that can be used in existing vehicles with little or no modification.</p> <p>Wall said that battery technology has reached or will soon reach a point where electrification of heavy vehicles “is credible up to urban class-7 trucks,” which encompasses most vehicles smaller than 18-wheeler tractor-trailers and heavy dumptrucks. But there are limitations, he said, such as the fact that city buses must be able to complete their daily scheduled routes without needing to be recharged, which at this point means many of them would require a backup power source such as a fuel cell.</p> <p>Symposium co-chair Kristala Prather, the Arthur D. Little Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT, addressed what is needed to develop low-carbon alternative fuels from biomass. She pointed out that biofuels have been controversial, and many pilot programs for biofuels, such as incentives for ethanol made from corn, have had disappointing results and fallen well short of their production goals. Given that poor track record, “Why are we still talking about biofuels?” she asked.</p> <p>She is still optimistic about the potential of biofuels, she said, even though there remain many challenges. For one thing, the raw materials to produce fuels from biomass are abundant and widely distributed. “We have the biomass to be able to make this transition” away from petroleum-based fuel, she said. “You can’t make something out of nothing, but we have the something.”</p> <p>She said that the tools of biotechnology can be applied to improving or developing new processes for harnessing microbes to generate fuel from agricultural products. These products can be grown on marginal lands that would not be suitable for food crops and thus would not be in competition with food production.</p> <p>But there are still challenges to be worked out, such as the fact that many of these processes produce toxic byproducts that require disposal or that may interfere with the production process itself. Nevertheless, with active research ongoing around the world, she said, “I do remain optimistic that we will be able to produce biofuels at scale, but it’s going to take a lot of ingenuity.”</p> <p>Francis O’Sullivan, an adjunct professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management and senior vice president for strategy at the wind energy company Orsted Onshore North America, said hydrogen could provide an important bridge fuel as the U.S. and the world work to decarbonize transportation. But he pointed out that not all hydrogen is created equal. Most of what’s produced currently is made from fossil fuels through a process that releases carbon dioxide. Efficient, scalable electrolysis systems will be needed to produce hydrogen using just water and electricity produced from clean sources.</p> <p>In the power sector, he said, “there is a significant role for hydrogen, in concert with renewables,” for example in transportation and in industrial processes. Though there are many issues to be solved in terms of efficient storage and transportation of hydrogen, “it does allow us a lot of flexibility, and therefore is a pathway worth exploring.” And there is progress in that direction, O’Sullivan said. For example, the U.K. is currently building a 100-megawatt electrolysis plant to produce hydrogen, powered by offshore wind turbines. But currently such projects would not be feasible without government subsidies.</p> <p>Howard Herzog, a senior research engineer at the MIT Energy Initiative, said that about 30 percent of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions comes from sources that can be classified as “difficult to eliminate.” Therefore, developing ways to capture and store carbon, either at the emissions source or directly out of the air, will be essential for meeting decarbonization targets. The easiest way to do that is at the emissions-producing plants themselves, where the gas is much more highly concentrated.</p> <p>But direct air capture may be the only way to clean up those emissions that come not from energy sources themselves but from certain production processes. For example, cement production releases as much carbon dioxide from the limestone being heated as it does from the power to provide that heating. But though direct air capture is “a very seductive concept,” he said, achieving it “is not that easy.”</p> <p>“The question is not whether we can get carbon dioxide out of air — we do it today. The real question is the cost,” Herzog said. While estimates vary, he says the true cost today is around $1,000 per ton of carbon dioxide removed, and to be truly competitive it would need to be about a tenth of that. Still, some pilot plants have been built, including one in Texas that can capture 1.6 million tons of carbon dioxide per year.</p> <p>Ruben Juanes, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at MIT, discussed ways of dealing with the carbon dioxide that gets captured by these methods. A number of different processes have been proposed and some have been implemented, including the use of depleted oil and gas wells, and deep underground saline aquifers — formations deep enough and salty enough that nobody would ever want to use them as water sources.</p> <p>“They are ubiquitous. They provide a gigantic capacity that is available at scale,” he said.</p> <p>But because the scale of the problem is so big, there still remain challenges, such as getting the carbon dioxide from its source to the underground storage location. The amount of carbon dioxide involved is comparable to the total amount of petroleum currently distributed worldwide through pipelines and supertankers, and so would require an enormous creation of new infrastructure to move.</p> <p>While that may not be an ultimate solution, “we can think of this as a bridge technology” to use until better systems are developed, he said. “If we want to make good on our efforts” to eliminate global greenhouse gas emissions, “we need to have that bridge.”</p> <p>Arun Majumdar, a professor at Stanford University&nbsp;and formerly the founding director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E), said that overall, “this is a gigaton-scale problem,” and that in order to have any chance of meeting the international target of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, we would have to limit total global emissions from now on to the equivalent of 800 gigatons of carbon dioxide. That means that at emissions rates of 40 gigatons a year, “we only have 20 years left” to use fossil fuels. So any solutions, to be viable, need to be capable of working at gigaton levels.</p> <p>That’s still just a small fraction of the amount of carbon going in and out of the air through natural carbon cycles that have been “in balance for millions of years,” he pointed out. “They’re now thrown out of balance.” But therein may lie some potential solutions. For example, the amount of carbon that gets sequestered in the ground by growing plants is strongly dependent on their root depth, and developing crops with deeper roots could provide food and carbon sequestration at the same time. “I want to grow mega-carrots!” he said, putting a humorous spin on a serious proposal that he outlined in detail in a recent research paper.</p> <p>But predicting the outcome of any of these possible countermeasures is daunting, partly because so many aspects of the climate system remain poorly understood. For example, melting of permafrost in the northern landmasses could result in sudden, large releases of methane, a very potent greenhouse gas. “We really need to look into it,” he said, because so far, “none of the climate models capture it,” and thus they could be understating the severity of the climate challenge. He suggests an urgent need for more research on potential materials that could selectively absorb methane.</p> <p>Majumdar said that the target increase of 2 degrees “is kind of baked in” already, and that we should be prepared for the possibility of an actual average temperature rise this century of something like 3 to 3.5 degrees. “We should be looking at options” for dealing with such extremes, including the controversial possibility of geoengineering projects to try to limit the amount of sunlight reaching Earth’s surface.</p> <p>Herzog added that any measures we can take today will be far more cost-effective than what we may have to do in later decades. “It costs $20, $30 or $40 a ton to keep carbon dioxide out” of the atmosphere today, he said, but if we leave the task to future generations, “to take it out of the air will cost hundreds of dollars a ton.”</p> <p>Majumdar said that though the challenges are daunting, they also represent a golden opportunity for research. “I do believe science and engineering and technology can play a role” in solving the problems, he said. In fact, he said, he wishes he were a student just starting out today, with so many areas where research could play a major role in addressing these global needs. “I wish I was a freshman,” he said. “You want to solve problems? This is a big one!”</p> Ernest Moniz, former U.S. Secretary of Energy and founding director of the MIT Energy Initiative, introduced the fourth MIT symposium on climate change.Photo: Jake BelcherESI, MIT Energy Initiative, Climate, Climate change, Special events and guest speakers, Sustainability, Batteries, Global Warming, Renewable energy, Energy storage, Automobiles, Policy, Environment, Emissions MIT Solve announces 2020 global challenges http://news.mit.edu/2020/mit-solve-announces-2020-global-challenges-0225 Tech-based solutions sought for challenges in work environments, education for girls and women, maternal and newborn health, and sustainable food. Tue, 25 Feb 2020 16:15:01 -0500 Claire Crowther | MIT Solve http://news.mit.edu/2020/mit-solve-announces-2020-global-challenges-0225 <p>On Feb. 25, MIT Solve launched its <a href="https://solve.mit.edu/challenges">2020 Global Challenges</a>: Good Jobs and Inclusive Entrepreneurship, Learning for Girls and Women, Maternal and Newborn Health, and Sustainable Food Systems, with&nbsp;over $1 million in prize funding&nbsp;available across the challenges.</p> <p>Solve seeks tech-based solutions from social entrepreneurs around the world that address these four challenges. Anyone, anywhere can apply by the June 18 deadline. This year, to guide applicants, Solve created a course with <em>MITx</em> entitled “<a href="https://www.edx.org/course/business-and-impact-planning-for-social-enterprise">Business and Impact Planning for Social Enterprises</a>,” which introduces core business-model and theory-of-change concepts to early-stage entrepreneurs.</p> <p>Finalists will be invited to attend Solve Challenge Finals on Sept. 20 in New York City during U.N. General Assembly week. At the event, they will pitch their solutions to Solve’s Challenge Leadership Groups, judging panels comprised of industry leaders and MIT faculty. The judges will select the most promising solutions as Solver teams.</p> <p>“Based all over the world, our Solver teams are incredibly diverse and have innovative solutions that turn air pollution into ink, recycle and resell used textiles, crowdsource data on wheelchair accessibility in public spaces, and much more,” says Solve Executive Director Alex Amouyel. “World-changing ideas can come from anywhere, and if you have a relevant solution, we want to hear it.”</p> <p>Solver teams participate in a nine-month program that connects them to the resources they need to scale. To date, Solve has facilitated more than 175 partnerships providing resources such as mentorship, technical expertise, and impact planning. In the past three years, Solve has brokered over $14 million in funding commitments to Solver teams and entrepreneurs.</p> <p>Solve’s challenge design process collects insights and ideas from industry leaders, MIT faculty, and local community voices alike. To develop the 2020 Global Challenges, Solve consulted more than 500 subject matter experts and hosted 14 Challenge Design Workshops in eight countries — in places ranging from Silicon Valley to London to Lagos to Ho Chi Minh City. Solve’s open innovation platform garnered more than 26,000 online votes on challenge themes.</p> <ol> <li> <p>Good Jobs and Inclusive Entrepreneurship:<strong> </strong>How can marginalized populations access and create good jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities for themselves?</p> </li> <li> <p>Learning for Girls and Women:<strong> </strong>How can marginalized girls and young women access quality learning opportunities to succeed?</p> </li> <li> <p>Maternal and Newborn Health:<strong> </strong>How can every pregnant woman, new mother, and newborn access the care they need to survive and thrive?</p> </li> <li> <p>Sustainable Food Systems:<strong> </strong>How can we produce and consume low-carbon, resilient, and nutritious food?</p> </li> </ol> <p>As a marketplace for social impact innovation, Solve’s mission is to solve world challenges. Solve finds promising tech-based social entrepreneurs around the world, then brings together MIT’s innovation ecosystem and a community of members to fund and support these entrepreneurs to help scale their impact. Organizations interested in joining the Solve community can learn more and <a href="https://solve.mit.edu/join-our-member-community">apply for membership here</a>.</p> <div></div> Renewed products consist of upcycled or recycling materials. The Renewal Workshop is an MIT Solver team that works to save textiles from landfill.Photo: The Renewal Workshop MIT Solve, Special events and guest speakers, Global, Technology and society, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E), International development, Artificial intelligence, Learning, Environment, Health, Community, Startups, Crowdsourcing A road map for artificial intelligence policy http://news.mit.edu/2020/starr-videgaray-artificial-intelligence-policy-0220 In a Starr Forum talk, Luis Videgaray, director of MIT’s AI Policy for the World Project, outlines key facets of regulating new technologies. Thu, 20 Feb 2020 14:08:04 -0500 Peter Dizikes | MIT News Office http://news.mit.edu/2020/starr-videgaray-artificial-intelligence-policy-0220 <p>The rapid development of artificial intelligence technologies around the globe has led to increasing calls for robust AI policy: laws that let innovation flourish while protecting people from privacy violations, exploitive surveillance, biased algorithms, and more.</p> <p>But the drafting and passing of such laws has been anything but easy.</p> <p>“This is a very complex problem,” Luis Videgaray PhD ’98, director of MIT’s AI Policy for the World Project, said in a lecture on Wednesday afternoon. “This is not something that will be solved in a single report. This has got to be a collective conversation, and it will take a while. It will be years in the making.”</p> <p>Throughout his talk, Videgaray outlined an ambitious vision of AI policy around the globe, one that is sensitive to economic and political dynamics, and grounded in material fairness and democratic deliberation.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>“Trust is probably the most important problem we have,” Videgaray said.</p> <p>Videgaray’s talk, “From Principles to Implementation: The Challenge of AI Policy Around the World,” was part of the Starr Forum series of public discussions about topics of global concern. The Starr Forum is hosted by MIT’s Center for International Studies. Videgaray gave his remarks to a standing-room crowd of over 150 in MIT’s Building E25.</p> <p>Videgaray, who is also a senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management, previously served as the finance minister of Mexico from 2012 to 2016, and foreign minister of Mexico from 2017 to 2018. Videgaray has also worked extensively in investment banking.</p> <p><strong>Information lag and media hype</strong></p> <p>In his talk, Videgaray began by outlining several “themes” related to AI that he thinks policymakers should keep in mind. These include government uses of AI; the effects of AI on the economy, including the possibility it could help giant tech firms consolidate market power; social responsibility issues, such as privacy, fairness, and bias; and the implications of AI for democracy, at a time when bots can influence political discussion. Videgaray also noted a “geopolitics” of AI regulation — from China’s comprehensive efforts to control technology to the looser methods used in the U.S.</p> <p>Videgaray observed that it is difficult for AI regulators to stay current with technology.</p> <p>“There’s an information lag,” Videgaray said. “Things that concern computer scientists today might become the concerns of policymakers a few years in the future.”</p> <p>Moreover, he noted, media hype can distort perceptions of AI and its applications. Here Videgaray contrasted the <a href="http://news.mit.edu/2019/work-future-report-technology-jobs-society-0904">recent report</a> of MIT’s Task Force on the Future of Work, which finds uncertainty about how many jobs will be replaced with technology, with a recent television documentary presenting a picture of automated vehicles replacing all truck drivers.</p> <p>“Clearly the evidence is nowhere near [indicating] that all jobs in truck driving, in long-distance driving, are going to be lost,” he said. “That is not the case.”</p> <p>With these general issues in mind, what should policymakers do about AI now? Videgaray offered several concrete suggestions. For starters: Policymakers should no longer just outline general philosophical principles, something that has been done many times, with a general convergence of ideas occurring.</p> <p>“Working on principles has very, very small marginal returns,” Videgaray said. “We can go to the next phase … principles are a necessary but not sufficient condition for AI policy. Because policy is about making hard choices in uncertain conditions.”</p> <p>Indeed, he emphasized, more progress can be made by having many AI policy decisions be particular to specific industries. When it comes to, say, medical diagnostics, policymakers want technology “to be very accurate, but you also want it to be explainable, you want it to be fair, without bias, you want the information to be secure … there are many objectives that can conflict with each other. So, this is all about the tradeoffs.”&nbsp;</p> <p>In many cases, he said, algorithm-based AI tools could go through a rigorous testing process, as required in some other industries: “Pre-market testing makes sense,” Videgaray said. “We do that for drugs, clinical trials, we do that for cars, why shouldn’t we do pre-market testing for algorithms?”</p> <p>But while Videgaray sees value in industry-specific regulations, he is not as keen on having a patchwork of varying state-level AI laws being used to regulate technology in the U.S.</p> <p>“Is this a problem for Facebook, for Google? I don’t think so,” Videgaray said. “They have enough resources to navigate through this complexity. But what about startups? What about students from MIT or Cornell or Stanford that are trying to start something, and would have to go through, at the extreme, 55 [pieces of] legislation?”</p> <p><strong>A collaborative conversation</strong></p> <p>At the event, Videgaray was introduced by Kenneth Oye, a professor of political science at MIT who studies technological regulation, and who asked Videgaray questions after the lecture. Among other things, Oye suggested U.S. states could serve as a useful laboratory for regulatory innovation.</p> <p>“In an area characterized by significant uncertainty, complexity, and controversy, there can be benefits to experimentation, having different models being pursued in different areas to see which works best or worse,” Oye suggested.</p> <p>Videgaray did not necessarily disagree, but emphasized the value of an eventual convergence in regulation. The U.S. banking industry, he noted, also followed this trajectory, until “eventually the regulation we have for finance [became] federal,” rather than determined by states.</p> <p>Prior to his remarks, Videgaray acknowledged some audience members, including his PhD thesis adviser at MIT, James Poterba, the Mitsui Professor of Economics, whom Videgaray called “one of the best teachers, not only in economics but about a lot of things in life.” Mexico’s Consul General in Boston, Alberto Fierro, also attended the event.</p> <p>Ultimately, Videgaray emphasized to the audience, the future of AI policy will be collaborative.</p> <p>“You cannot just go to a computer lab and say, ‘Okay, get me some AI policy,’” he stressed. “This has got to be a collective conversation.”</p> Luis Videgaray, director of MIT’s AI Policy for the World Project, talking at his Starr Forum lecture, hosted by the Center for International Studies, on February 19, 2020.Images: courtesy of Laura Kerwin, Center for International StudiesArtificial intelligence, Law, Ethics, Computer science and technology, Political science, Economics, Special events and guest speakers, Global, Center for International Studies, School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, Sloan School of Management Esther Duflo PhD ’99 to speak at 2020 Investiture of Doctoral Hoods and Degree Conferral Ceremony http://news.mit.edu/2020/esther-duflo-2020-doctoral-hoods-ceremony-0220 MIT professor and alumna shared the 2019 Nobel Prize in economics, which recognized collaborators’ “experimental approach to alleviating global poverty.” Thu, 20 Feb 2020 10:10:09 -0500 Institute Events http://news.mit.edu/2020/esther-duflo-2020-doctoral-hoods-ceremony-0220 <p>Esther Duflo PhD ’99, the Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics at MIT, will be the guest speaker at the 2020 Investiture of Doctoral Hoods and Degree Conferral Ceremony on Thursday, May 28.</p> <p>“Professor Duflo is an impressive and inspiring leader — someone whose brilliant insight and relentless hard work have improved the lives of millions of people in poverty,” says Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart, host of the ceremony. “I have no doubt that hearing about her research and journey to the Nobel Prize — a path that was marked by hands-on problem-solving, collaboration, and selflessness — will capture the imaginations of our doctoral graduates. Her story will remind them of the impact MIT community members can have when we apply our minds, hands, and hearts to solving society’s most pressing challenges.”</p> <p>Duflo, known for her leadership and innovation in development economics, is a faculty member in the MIT Department of Economics, as well as co-founder and co-director of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL). She is the second woman and the youngest person ever to receive the Nobel Prize in economic sciences.</p> <p>In her <a href="https://www.nobelprize.org/uploads/2019/10/duflo-lecture-slides.pdf" target="_blank">Nobel speech</a>, given in December 2019 and titled “Field experiments and the practice of economics,” Duflo framed her own work to understand the economic lives of the poor in the context of a movement that leverages research in guiding social policy. She lauded the worldwide J-PAL network of antipoverty researchers, whose rigorous collection and evaluation of data has led to affecting policy in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and South America. Duflo — whose early ambitions included becoming a “changemaker” — said she hopes that J-PAL’s influence will foment a self-sustaining culture of learning within governments.</p> <p>The guest speaker is selected by a working group of doctoral students, from among nominees who hold a PhD or ScD from MIT. The group was unanimous and enthusiastic about Duflo’s nomination. Lily Bui, who will graduate in May with a PhD in urban studies and planning, participated in this year’s selection process. “Our committee is thrilled that Dr. Duflo will be our speaker,” she says. “We look forward to the wisdom that she will impart from both her extraordinary professional and personal experiences.”</p> <p>Following her study of history and economics at École Normale Supérieure in Paris, Duflo came to MIT, earning a PhD in economics and joining the faculty in 1999. The extraordinary list of her academic honors and prizes include the Princess of Asturias Award for Social Sciences (2015), the A.SK Social Science Award (2015), Infosys Prize (2014), the David N. Kershaw Award (2011), a John Bates Clark Medal (2010), and a MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellowship (2009).&nbsp;With Abhijit Banerjee, the Ford International Professor of Economics at MIT, she wrote&nbsp;“Good Economics for Hard Times” (2019) and “Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty” (2011), the latter of which won the <em>Financial Times</em> and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award in 2011 and has been translated into more than 17 languages. Duflo is the editor of the&nbsp;<em>American Economic Review</em>, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy.</p> <p>Duflo’s passionate commitment to research toward the betterment of humankind led her to a momentous choice: She and co-laureates Banerjee and Professor Michael Kremer of Harvard University made news again in December 2019 for the decision to donate their combined Nobel prize money to support grants sponsored by the Weiss Fund for Research in Development Economics. The Associated Press <a href="https://apnews.com/eb9dbb97c017bb0558027cb5af841b67" target="_blank">reported</a> that Duflo was inspired in this gift by Marie Curie, who used her Nobel money to buy a gram of radium for research. The three professors’ donation to the Weiss Fund will support development economics for years to come.</p> <p>Nancy Rose, head of the MIT Department of Economics and the Charles P. Kindleberger Professor of Applied Economics, praised Duflo’s teaching and her relationships with MIT students. She commented, “Esther is not only an extraordinary scholar and educator, but a much-loved mentor and advisor for generations of students.&nbsp;As MIT’s first alumna to be recognized with the Nobel Prize, I can think of no finer choice to acknowledge the promise of our current graduates and to inspire them on the launch of their careers.”</p> <p>The 2020 Investiture of Doctoral Hoods and Degree Conferral Ceremony will take place on Thursday, May 28 at 10:30 a.m. on Killian Court. The ceremony is open to family, friends, and mentors of doctoral candidates; no tickets are required.</p> Esther DufloImage: Peter Tenzer/Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action LabCommencement, Community, Special events and guest speakers, Administration, Chancellor, Economics, Nobel Prizes, Alumni/ae, School of Humanities Arts and Social Sciences, Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) Admiral William McRaven to speak at MIT’s 2020 Commencement http://news.mit.edu/2020/admiral-william-mcraven-2020-commencement-0220 Retired Navy four-star admiral and former chancellor of University of Texas system will address the Class of 2020 on May 29. Thu, 20 Feb 2020 10:03:01 -0500 MIT News Office http://news.mit.edu/2020/admiral-william-mcraven-2020-commencement-0220 <p>Admiral William H. McRaven, a retired U.S. Navy four-star admiral and the former chancellor of the University of Texas system, will deliver the address at MIT’s 2020 Commencement exercises on Friday, May 29.</p> <p>McRaven is a recognized authority on U.S. foreign policy who advised presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama on defense issues. As the chancellor of the University of Texas system from 2015 to 2018, he led one of the nation’s largest systems of higher education, with 14 institutions that educated 220,000 students and employed 20,000 faculty and more than 80,000 health care professionals, researchers, and staff.</p> <p>McRaven recently co-chaired an independent <a href="https://www.cfr.org/report/keeping-our-edge/" target="_blank">task force</a>, charged by the Council on Foreign Relations, on innovation and national security. Among its recommendations, the task force encourages the U.S. government to invest in scholarships and modify immigration policies to enable the country’s universities to attract and educate the world’s most dynamic talent. A passionate advocate for freedom of the press, McRaven has authored prominent opinion pieces on current affairs — in 2018 <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/revoke-my-security-clearance-too-mr-president/2018/08/16/8b149b02-a178-11e8-93e3-24d1703d2a7a_story.html" target="_blank">in<em> The Washington Post</em></a>&nbsp; and in 2019 <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/17/opinion/trump-mcraven-syria-military.html" target="_blank">in<em> The New York Times</em></a>.&nbsp;</p> <p>During his 37 years in the military, McRaven commanded special operations forces at every level, eventually serving as the ninth commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command from 2011 to 2014. He led the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips, who was held hostage by Somali pirates after the 2009 hijacking of the MV Maersk Alabama in the Gulf of Aden. He is also credited with developing the plan and leading the mission that led to the 2011 death of Osama bin Laden. His honors include the Intrepid Freedom Award for distinguished service in defending the values of democracy, awarded in 2015, and the Judge William H. Webster Distinguished Service Award for a lifetime of service to the nation, awarded in 2018.</p> <p>“From firsthand experience, I have come to admire Admiral McRaven’s integrity, intellectual curiosity, decency, humility, and self-discipline. A brilliant problem solver with deeply held values and the courage to speak boldly for his principles, he will fit right in at MIT,” MIT President L. Rafael Reif says. “We look forward to welcoming him.”</p> <p>“I am so very honored to have the opportunity to address the MIT graduating class of 2020,” says McRaven.&nbsp;“More than ever before, the world today needs the great minds&nbsp;of&nbsp;the talented men and women that have learned so much from this magnificent&nbsp;institution.&nbsp;I hope that&nbsp;my&nbsp;experience, in both the military and academia, will be of some value to them&nbsp;as they head off to make their mark in the world.”</p> <p>McRaven is the author of three books: “Spec Ops: Case Studies in Special Operations Warfare” (1996), “Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life … and Maybe the World” (2017), and “Sea Stories: My Life in Special Operations” (2019).</p> <p>He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1977 with a degree in journalism, and received his master’s degree from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, in 1991. He is currently on the faculty of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.</p> <p>“We are intrigued to hear what&nbsp;Admiral&nbsp;McRaven has to share with MIT’s graduates,” says Graduate Student Council President Peter Su. “His background in military service and university administration provides an interesting perspective.”</p> <p>McRaven joins notable recent MIT Commencement speakers including three-term New York City mayor and philanthropist Michael Bloomberg (2019); Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg (2018); Apple CEO Tim Cook (2017); actor and filmmaker Matt Damon (2016); and U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith ’86 SM ’88 (2015).</p> <p>“We are delighted to welcome Admiral McRaven to MIT as our Commencement speaker,” says Chancellor for Academic Advancement Eric Grimson, the longstanding chair of the Commencement Committee. “His record of vocal support for free speech, of seeking principled approaches to difficult situations, and of fostering effective teamwork should serve as a wonderful example to our graduates as they seek to make their own impact on the world.”</p> Admiral William H. McRavenImage: courtesy of Admiral William McRavenCommencement, Community, Special events and guest speakers, Administration, President L. Rafael Reif MLK Luncheon speaker describes “dealing with scars nobody can see” http://news.mit.edu/2020/mlk-luncheon-richardson-0213 Exonerated Central Park Five member Kevin Richardson details his harrowing experiences and his hopeful vision for the future. Thu, 13 Feb 2020 10:34:44 -0500 David L. Chandler | MIT News Office http://news.mit.edu/2020/mlk-luncheon-richardson-0213 <p>One evening in 1989, a 14-year-old Kevin Richardson headed from his home in Harlem into New York City’s Central Park to play basketball with some friends. Little did he know when he walked into that park that his life’s dreams would be shattered that evening, and that he would soon be spending seven years in prison for a crime that, as has since been proven in court, he had nothing to do with.</p> <p>He spent years in a struggle to prove his innocence, along with the four other teenagers swept up by police that night who became known as the “Central Park Five.” They were accused of a horrific rape that took place that night, for which another man would, years later, eventually confess.</p> <p>“I still deal with that every day,” Richardson told an MIT audience Wednesday. “We have to deal with scars that nobody can see.”</p> <p>Now, legally cleared of the crime, happily married and the father of two daughters, Richardson has turned his own horrific experiences into the basis for a new calling: speaking out and organizing against injustices in the criminal justice system, which disproportionately affect people of color and particularly black men, and helping to advocate for others who, like him and his falsely accused “brothers,” are seeking to clear their names and prove their innocence.</p> <p>Richardson, who is now 45, gave the keynote speech at this year’s annual MIT Martin Luther King Jr. celebration luncheon. He described the devastating effects of losing much of his youth to an unjust arrest and imprisonment, and his choice to turn that personal hardship into a tale of hope and strength for others who suffer similar injustices.</p> <p>Despite the horrors of incarceration, which he said were particularly bad because being labeled as a rapist is one of the worst things for a prisoner, he refused an opportunity that might have led to his parole after five years. Despite being a model prisoner and earning a college degree in prison, he said to be released he would have had to admit to the crime he didn’t commit. But he kept going, always believing “there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”</p> <p>Richardson gave much credit for the inner strength that helped him to endure those years to his mother and to his religious faith — although he says that faith was temporarily broken after his unjust arrest, when he couldn’t understand “why would God do this to me.” But years later, he came to feel that this was all leading him to the path that he is pursuing today, advocating justice for others: “When I got older I realized I was destined to be here. ... I was molded and sculpted to be what I am today — to speak for justice, not just for myself, not just for people of color, but for everyone.”</p> <p>“I have to become a voice for the voiceless,” he said.</p> <p>Introducing Richardson at the luncheon, MIT President L. Rafael Reif described him as “an individual who has suffered crushing injustice, and yet has found the courage to speak out for systemic change.”</p> <p>Reif said, “He has transformed this terrible injustice into a relentless commitment to drive positive change: to promote DNA evidence as a way to help people trapped by wrongful convictions, and to reform our criminal justice system, for the good of all.”</p> <p>Reif also used the occasion of the luncheon to announce that MIT has <a href="https://news.mit.edu/2020/john-dozier-community-equity-officer-0212">just hired</a> a new Institute Community and Equity Officer, John H. Dozier, who has been the chief diversity officer and senior associate provost for inclusion at the University of South Carolina.</p> <p>“To succeed in our mission at MIT, we urgently need to make our community work for everyone,” Reif said. “I hope you share my optimism and excitement about what we can achieve with John’s collaborative leadership.”</p> <p>The MLK celebration also featured remarks from two students, an undergraduate and a graduate student. Undergraduate Kelvin Green spoke of “how we challenge ourselves day in and day out to be committed to justice.”</p> <p>He said, “I stand before you today with a heart filled with optimism and hope,” despite the great problems and challenges facing the world today. “Optimistic because all the power that’s needed to make change is in this room right now,” he said to the packed crowd at MIT’s Morss Hall. “I’m here to tell you today that each of you has the power to create the world brother King sacrificed his life for.”</p> <p>He said “no single person can do anything sustainable. But there are enough people in this room to make MIT a beacon of light in a world that is getting darker and darker. … So I encourage all my peers in the fight for a just world to keep fighting. Keep writing. Keep drawing. Keep dancing. Keep singing. Keep protesting. Keep speaking. Keep going. Our art and our protest is how we keep our community free. … It is how we have courage, speak up, and confront injustice.” (Read Green's full remarks <a href="https://medium.com/@kelvingreenii/our-art-and-our-protest-fdc49f7be45f" target="_blank">here</a>).</p> <p>Candace Ross, a graduate student in electrical engineering and computer science, cautioned against empty words of support that are not matched by action. While the words of King, saying that hate cannot drive out hate, are powerful, they can be seen as abstract, she said. “It lets us say we value diverse views, while not having any diverse bodies in the room.”</p> <p>Ross said that from talking to her grandparents, she knows that the face of American racism has changed over the years but is still powerful. For example, she said, “government cannot in theory disenfranchise voters on the basis of race; this disenfranchisement happens in practice through mass incarceration and permanent removal of voter rights.” That’s among the many ongoing issues Ross said she and other activist students are trying to find ways to address.</p> <p>President Reif cited Ross’s comments about the “courageous labor” being carried out by students every day, and hailed “the selfless, unseen work that so many students do to support one another and to try to build a better MIT.”</p> <p>He added, “In the midst of such labor, it can be hard to see or appreciate how much progress you are creating. So I simply want to say — to Candace, to Kelvin, and to everyone here: Thank you for all you do — and please know that you are making a lasting difference!”</p> Kevin Richardson, one of the Central Park Five, who have all been exonerated of their unjust conviction, gives the keynote speech at this year’s annual MIT Martin Luther King luncheon.All images: Jake BelcherSpecial events and guest speakers, Diversity and inclusion, MLK visiting scholars, President L. Rafael Reif, Community, Administration, Students, Faculty, Staff Understanding law in everyday life http://news.mit.edu/2020/susan-silbey-killian-law-life-0213 Susan Silbey, a pioneer in studying popular attitudes toward the legal system, discussed her research while giving MIT’s annual Killian Lecture. Thu, 13 Feb 2020 00:00:00 -0500 Peter Dizikes | MIT News Office http://news.mit.edu/2020/susan-silbey-killian-law-life-0213 <p>Toward the end of her Killian Lecture at MIT on Tuesday afternoon, Susan Silbey showed the audience a photo of a lawn chair on a city street, being used to save a parking spot during a snowstorm.</p> <p>That’s a familiar image to Boston-area residents. But in this case, the picture had a particular symbolism. Silbey’s scholarship has helped establish a groundbreaking framework for thinking about the interaction of legal codes and civic attitudes. So when people use chairs to hold parking spots, which is illegal, it reflects one specific attitude toward the law, which Silbey helped codify: that the law is there to be negotiated, challenged, and defeated.</p> <p>That is not the only view people have of the law. Some people regard the law as impartial and just, and others believe the entire legal system is oppressive. But to endure, Silbey emphasized in her remarks, a legal system cannot simply be regarded as being “outside of everyday life. … It must be located as securely within, to be powerful, to be effective, to be a rule of law.”</p> <p>And, she added, “it must be experienced in property relations, in market exchanges, in contracts … and in chairs, holding parking spots in newly shoveled, snowy streets.”</p> <p>Thus even little legal evasions, as they play out over time, “are evidence of law’s endurance in everyday life,” noted Silbey, who is the Leon and Anne Goldberg Professor of Humanities, Sociology, and Anthropology, and a professor of behavioral and policy sciences at the Sloan School of Management.</p> <p>Silbey outlined her influential ideas on Tuesday, discussing her scholarship while accepting MIT’s James R. Killian, Jr. Faculty Achievement Award, the highest such honor at the Institute. The award was established in 1971 to honor Killian, who served as MIT’s 10th president, from 1948 to 1959, and chair of the MIT Corporation, from 1959 to 1971.</p> <p>“I find it very difficult to find the exact words to express how deeply and truly honored I am by this award,” Silbey said, to an audience of about 250 people in MIT’s Room 10-250. “I thank you.”</p> <p><strong>Studying her father’s job</strong></p> <p>The roots of Silbey’s work, she recounted for the audience, go back to her childhood, when her father, a enforcement supervisor in New York State’s labor department, would take her to his office in lower Manhattan. He seemed to know the legal status of every nearby business — whether they had underpaid workers, committed other infractions, or complied with the law.</p> <p>“It only dawned on me a few years ago that I have spent my entire career studying my father’s work,” Silbey said, adding that the key question she sought to address has been, “How do we empirically observe the rule of law?”</p> <p>Indeed, Silbey added, “If we think about law as statues, constitutions, or even courtrooms and juries, it cannot tell us what the law means to most people.”</p> <p>For much of the lecture, Silbey discussed the influential three-part typology of attitudes toward the law that she developed with Patricia Ewick, a professor of sociology at Clark University. Silbey and Ewick introduced their concepts in the 1998 book, “The Common Place of Law: Stories from Everyday Life.”</p> <p>As Silbey and Ewick see it, people generally adopt one of three main postures vis-à-vis the legal system: They can be “before” the law, “with” the law, or “against” the law.</p> <p>Those who are “before” the law follow the rules closely and regard the legal system as a stable, impartial edifice.</p> <p>“Legality is imagined as an objective realm of disinterested action, removed and distant from the lives of individuals,” Silbey said. “This is also the law’s story about itself, of its own awesome grandeur.”</p> <p>By contrast, people who are “with” the law regard the legal system as a game, with victory possible through skill, experience, good lawyers, and other resources.</p> <p>In this view, Silbey remarks, “There is no [objective] justice — you either win, or you lose.”</p> <p>Finally, those who are “against” the law view the entire system as an expression of unequal power, and adopt a posture of resistance to it.</p> <p>For these people, Silbey said, “legality is understood to be arbitrary and capricious,” although, she noted, people who are “against” the law are “rarely cynical” about it. They believe in the possibility of justice, but think the system denies it to them.</p> <p>Significantly, Silbey added, “We need all three to explain law’s enduring force and organizing presence.” We cannot plausibly claim the law is always impartial, but it cannot sustain legitimacy if always regarded as a game.</p> <p>Silbey was introduced by MIT chair of the faculty Rick Danheiser, who formally presented the Killian Award to her, telling Silbey it had been granted for “your insatiable curiosity, your extraordinary record of professional accomplishment, your generous mentorship, and last but not least … your important leadership contributions at MIT.”</p> <p>Silbey earned her BA in political science from Brooklyn College and her MA and PhD in political science from the University of Chicago. She was a faculty member in Wellesley College’s Department of Sociology from 1974 through 2000, when she joined the MIT faculty.</p> <p>At MIT, Silbey has also extended her research into studies of gender roles in science and engineering, while also extensively evaluating issues of compliance with the law in laboratory settings.</p> <p>Silbey’s record of service at the Institute includes tenures as chair of the MIT faculty, from 2017 to 2019; secretary of the faculty; and head of the anthropology section, from 2006 to 2014. In 2017, she even received a “Rookie Advisor” award for excellence in advising first-year undergraduates.</p> <p>In her closing remarks, Silbey made a point of thanking her faculty and staff colleagues, co-authors, family members, and particularly “my beloved late husband, Robert Silbey, who’s always been there for my entire life, more than 50 years.” Robert Silbey was an MIT faculty member from 1966 to 2011. A professor of chemistry, he served as dean of the School of Science from 2000 to 2007.</p> <p>“He is the reason I have been at MIT,” Silbey added. “These years have been marvelous. I used to say to him daily … I have never been happier in my work than the years I have been at MIT, capped by this most auspicious award. And I thank you very much.”</p> Susan Silbey, the Leon and Anne Goldberg Professor of Humanities, Sociology and Anthropology, and Professor of Behavioral and Policy Sciences at the Sloan School of Management, delivering the 48th Annual James R. Killian, Jr. Faculty Achievement Award Lecture at MIT on Tuesday, February 11, 2020. Image: Jake BelcherAwards, honors and fellowships, Faculty, Special events and guest speakers, Law, Anthropology, Sociology, Policy, School of Humanities Arts and Social Sciences, Sloan School of Management Out of the lab and into the world http://news.mit.edu/2020/out-of-the-media-lab-into-the-world-0211 E14 Venture Summit celebrates the diversity of spinoff companies from the Media Lab. Tue, 11 Feb 2020 16:30:01 -0500 Chia Evers | MIT Media Lab http://news.mit.edu/2020/out-of-the-media-lab-into-the-world-0211 <p>In collaboration with the <a href="https://www.e14fund.com/">E14 Fund</a>, on Jan. 28-29 the MIT Media Lab hosted the inaugural <a href="https://www.media.mit.edu/events/mlvs-2020/" target="_blank">Media Lab Venture Summit</a> — the first-ever celebration of the myriad spinoff companies created by the extended community of Media Lab alumni, research staff, and faculty members.</p> <p>Slated to become an annual event, the summit convened on the sixth floor of Building E14, with introductory talks by Deb Roy,&nbsp;professor of media arts and sciences and Media Lab executive director of operations and communications, and E14 managing partners Habib Haddad and Calvin Chin. Later events included a panel discussion between entrepreneurs from the Media Lab, presentations by nearly 40 spinoff companies, a networking lunch hosted by the MIT Industrial Liaison Program, some 25 demos, and three breakout sessions focused on radical reinvention of traditional industries, digitizing product value chains, and radical sustainability for future products. On the second day of the summit, participants were invited to tour Formlabs, Tulip, and Ginkgo Bioworks — local startups with MIT roots.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Started in 2014, the E14 Fund began as a small experiment, and has since grown into a robust network of support for Media Lab spinoffs, students, alumni, and other members of the extended lab community. As Roy noted in his introduction, entrepreneurship is a natural outgrowth of the lab’s approach to research. “I’ve long described the Media Lab, and one of the core aspects of the spirit of the lab, as entrepreneurial — enterprising, and characterized by the taking of research risks in the hope of intellectual and practical advances. It’s part of the ethos of the lab, and it’s amazing to see this rich collection of startups that the E14 family has recognized and been fostering over the last several years.”</p> <p>The program for the first day of the summit reflected the broad diversity of those startups, which range from early-stage companies founded by recent graduates and based on their Media Lab research to companies created by alumni who left the lab some time ago.&nbsp;</p> <p>Moderated by Joe Chung SM ’89, the opening panel provided an informative, emotionally honest, and sometimes surprising discussion of the different paths labbers have taken to starting their own companies. Chung himself left the PhD program to co-found Art Technology Group with Jeet Singh ’86, while Nan-Wei Gong PhD ’13, founder of Figur8, co-founded her first company (3dim Tech Inc., which was acquired in 2014) after winning the <a href="https://news.mit.edu/2013/3dim-mit-100k-entrepreneurship-competition-0516">2013 MIT $100K Competition</a> with friends. Former Media Lab postdoc Rana El Kaliouby co-founded Affectiva with Professor Rosalind Picard when it became clear that their research project had outgrown the lab. LittleBits founder Ayah Bdeir SM ’06, meanwhile, shifted her focus from creative electronics for everyone<em> </em>to creative electronics for children after the 2009 Maker Faire in San Mateo, California, where so many kids swarmed around her booth and refused to leave that she had to pretend she was closing so that their parents could take them home.&nbsp;</p> <p>A recurring theme was that many of the panelists didn’t leave the lab with the intention of starting a company — rather, they started companies because it seemed like the best way to accomplish a specific mission. “We build starting from the passion,” says Gong, “and then we figure out a business model and ask how we scale up.” John Underkoffler ’88, SM ’91, PhD ’99, whose dissertation work inspired the production design of the film “Minority Report” — on which he served as a consultant — and whose company, Oblong, continues to build upon that work, was more blunt: “I had no idea what I was doing.” He credited fellow Media Lab alumnus David Kung ’93, SM ’95, now vice president for product strategy at Oblong, with making him understand that the calls he was getting from Fortune 500 companies meant there was interest in his technology. “It was sidelong and sideways and unanticipated.”&nbsp;</p> <p>The panelists also spoke candidly about both their successes and their greatest challenges. Harmonix co-founder Eran Egozy ’93, MEng ’95 described the unprecedented surge of interest in “Guitar Hero,” which saw its sales figures double month after month, bypassing the usual post-holiday slump. Others talked about stresses and failures, from running out of funding to making painful business decisions to the difficulty of balancing personal relationships with the needs of an early-stage startup. “I always used to think when people said things like, ‘If I’d known how hard it was, I never would have tried,’ were being dramatic, but it’s literally true,” Underkoffler says. El Kaliouby offered advice on how to weather those storms: “Go back to core values. They’re not important when things are rosy, but they’re especially important in these tough times, when you have to make tough decisions.”&nbsp;</p> <p>After the panel discussion, presenters from&nbsp;36 ventures delivered lightning-round overviews, inviting attendees to learn more about their organizations during the demo and networking sessions in the afternoon. These presentations&nbsp;further showcased the diversity of the enterprises,&nbsp;from artificial intelligence applications designed to improve crop yields and reduce overuse of fertilizer and pesticides in commercial farming, to high-efficiency heating and cooling systems, to autonomous mobility solutions at scales from individuals to mass transit. The demos also included room for the whimsical — like the beautiful, networked touch lamps developed by John Harrison’s SM ’05 Filimin.&nbsp;</p> <p>Ann Perrin, a liaison from Media Lab member company Deloitte who has long advocated for an event like this, says, “The inaugural Venture Summit exemplified the power of the lab by bringing together faculty, innovative spinoffs rooted in research pioneered at the lab, and corporate members scouting for emerging tech and exploring partnerships. A great success.” Haddad agrees: “The summit is a great opportunity to celebrate the impact of the lab beyond the lab. It’s great to see all those startups continue building on top of the work they did at the lab, creating ventures at scale to tackle large and tough problems.” Ryan McCarthy, director of member relations at the Media Lab, adds, “It was amazing to hear from older spinoffs, and see how much they've&nbsp;accomplished, alongside these new companies that have so much potential.”&nbsp;</p> <p>The event also highlighted something that Roy, Chin, and Haddad all emphasized in their opening remarks — that promising research from the lab may take years to come to fruition. “Some of the ideas that the Media Lab works on,” Roy says, “have gestation periods that will actually span not just years but decades, and eventually come into material practice.”</p> Left to right: Joe Chung (Redstar), Ayah Bdeir (littleBits), Nan-Wei Gong (Figur8), Rana El Kaliouby (Affectiva), Eran Egozy (Harmonix), and John Underkoffler (Oblong) participate in a panel discussion about their entrepreneurial paths out of the Media Lab.Photo courtesy of the MIT Media Lab.Media Lab, Startups, Alumni/ae, Staff, Faculty, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E), Special events and guest speakers, Business and management, School of Architecture and Planning Brainstorming energy-saving hacks on Satori, MIT’s new supercomputer http://news.mit.edu/2020/brainstorming-energy-saving-hacks-satori-mit-supercomputer-0211 Three-day hackathon explores methods for making artificial intelligence faster and more sustainable. Tue, 11 Feb 2020 11:50:01 -0500 Kim Martineau | MIT Quest for Intelligence http://news.mit.edu/2020/brainstorming-energy-saving-hacks-satori-mit-supercomputer-0211 <p>Mohammad Haft-Javaherian planned to spend an hour at the&nbsp;<a href="http://bit.ly/2ReKlio">Green AI Hackathon</a>&nbsp;— just long enough to get acquainted with MIT’s new supercomputer,&nbsp;<a href="https://news.mit.edu/2019/ibm-gives-lift-artificial-intelligence-computing-mit-0826">Satori</a>. Three days later, he walked away with $1,000 for his winning strategy to shrink the carbon footprint of artificial intelligence models trained to detect heart disease.&nbsp;</p> <p>“I never thought about the kilowatt-hours I was using,” he says. “But this hackathon gave me a chance to look at my carbon footprint and find ways to trade a small amount of model accuracy for big energy savings.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Haft-Javaherian was among six teams to earn prizes at a hackathon co-sponsored by the&nbsp;<a href="https://researchcomputing.mit.edu/index">MIT Research Computing Project</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="https://mitibmwatsonailab.mit.edu/">MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab</a> Jan. 28-30. The event was meant to familiarize students with Satori, the computing cluster IBM&nbsp;<a href="http://news.mit.edu/2019/ibm-gives-lift-artificial-intelligence-computing-mit-0826">donated</a> to MIT last year, and to inspire new techniques for building energy-efficient AI models that put less planet-warming carbon dioxide into the air.&nbsp;</p> <p>The event was also a celebration of Satori’s green-computing credentials. With an architecture designed to minimize the transfer of data, among other energy-saving features, Satori recently earned&nbsp;<a href="https://www.top500.org/green500/lists/2019/11/">fourth place</a>&nbsp;on the Green500 list of supercomputers. Its location gives it additional credibility: It sits on a remediated brownfield site in Holyoke, Massachusetts, now the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.mghpcc.org/">Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center</a>, which runs largely on low-carbon hydro, wind and nuclear power.</p> <p>A postdoc at MIT and Harvard Medical School, Haft-Javaherian came to the hackathon to learn more about Satori. He stayed for the challenge of trying to cut the energy intensity of his own work, focused on developing AI methods to screen the coronary arteries for disease. A new imaging method, optical coherence tomography, has given cardiologists a new tool for visualizing defects in the artery walls that can slow the flow of oxygenated blood to the heart. But even the experts can miss subtle patterns that computers excel at detecting.</p> <p>At the hackathon, Haft-Javaherian ran a test on his model and saw that he could cut its energy use eight-fold by reducing the time Satori’s graphics processors sat idle. He also experimented with adjusting the model’s number of layers and features, trading varying degrees of accuracy for lower energy use.&nbsp;</p> <p>A second team, Alex Andonian and Camilo Fosco, also won $1,000 by showing they could train a classification model nearly 10 times faster by optimizing their code and losing a small bit of accuracy. Graduate students in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), Andonian and Fosco are currently training a classifier to tell legitimate videos from AI-manipulated fakes, to compete in Facebook’s&nbsp;<a href="https://ai.facebook.com/blog/deepfake-detection-challenge/">Deepfake Detection Challenge</a>. Facebook launched the contest last fall to crowdsource ideas for stopping the spread of misinformation on its platform ahead of the 2020 presidential election.</p> <p>If a technical solution to deepfakes is found, it will need to run on millions of machines at once, says Andonian. That makes energy efficiency key. “Every optimization we can find to train and run more efficient models will make a huge difference,” he says.</p> <p>To speed up the training process, they tried streamlining their code and lowering the resolution of their 100,000-video training set by eliminating some frames. They didn’t expect a solution in three days, but Satori’s size worked in their favor. “We were able to run 10 to 20 experiments at a time, which let us iterate on potential ideas and get results quickly,” says Andonian.&nbsp;</p> <p>As AI continues to improve at tasks like reading medical scans and interpreting video, models have grown bigger and more calculation-intensive, and thus, energy intensive. By one&nbsp;<a href="https://www.technologyreview.com/s/613630/training-a-single-ai-model-can-emit-as-much-carbon-as-five-cars-in-their-lifetimes/">estimate</a>, training a large language-processing model produces nearly as much carbon dioxide as the cradle-to-grave emissions from five American cars. The footprint of the typical model is modest by comparison, but as AI applications proliferate its environmental impact is growing.&nbsp;</p> <p>One way to green AI, and tame the exponential growth in demand for training AI, is to build smaller models. That’s the approach that a third hackathon competitor, EECS graduate student Jonathan Frankle, took. Frankle is looking for signals early in the training process that point to subnetworks within the larger, fully-trained network that can do the same job.&nbsp;The idea builds on his award-winning&nbsp;<a href="https://arxiv.org/pdf/1803.03635.pdf">Lottery Ticket Hypothesis</a>&nbsp;paper from last year that found a neural network could perform with 90 percent fewer connections if the right subnetwork was found early in training.</p> <p>The hackathon competitors were judged by John Cohn, chief scientist at the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab, Christopher Hill, director of MIT’s Research Computing Project, and Lauren Milechin, a research software engineer at MIT.&nbsp;</p> <p>The judges recognized four&nbsp;other teams: Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAPS) graduate students Ali Ramadhan,&nbsp;Suyash Bire, and James Schloss,&nbsp;for adapting the programming language Julia for Satori; MIT Lincoln Laboratory postdoc Andrew Kirby, for adapting code he wrote as a graduate student to Satori using a library designed for easy programming of computing architectures; and Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences graduate students Jenelle Feather and Kelsey Allen, for applying a technique that drastically simplifies models by cutting their number of parameters.</p> <p>IBM developers were on hand to answer questions and gather feedback.&nbsp;&nbsp;“We pushed the system — in a good way,” says Cohn. “In the end, we improved the machine, the documentation, and the tools around it.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Going forward, Satori will be joined in Holyoke by&nbsp;<a href="http://news.mit.edu/2019/lincoln-laboratory-ai-supercomputer-tx-gaia-0927">TX-Gaia</a>, Lincoln Laboratory’s new supercomputer.&nbsp;Together, they will provide feedback on the energy use of their workloads. “We want to raise awareness and encourage users to find innovative ways to green-up all of their computing,” says Hill.&nbsp;</p> Several dozen students participated in the Green AI Hackathon, co-sponsored by the MIT Research Computing Project and MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab. Photo panel: Samantha SmileyQuest for Intelligence, MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab, Electrical engineering and computer science (EECS), EAPS, Lincoln Laboratory, Brain and cognitive sciences, School of Engineering, School of Science, Algorithms, Artificial intelligence, Computer science and technology, Data, Machine learning, Software, Climate change, Awards, honors and fellowships, Hackathon, Special events and guest speakers At halfway point, SuperUROP scholars share their research results http://news.mit.edu/2020/halfway-point-superurop-scholars-share-research-results-0129 In a lively poster session, more than 100 undergraduates discuss their yearlong research projects on everything from machine learning to political geography. Wed, 29 Jan 2020 14:25:01 -0500 Kathryn O'Neill | Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science http://news.mit.edu/2020/halfway-point-superurop-scholars-share-research-results-0129 <p>MIT undergraduates are rolling up their sleeves to address major problems in the world, conducting research on topics ranging from nursing care to money laundering to the spread of misinformation about climate change — work highlighted at the most recent SuperUROP Showcase.</p> <p>The event, which took place on the Charles M. Vest Student Street in the Stata Center in December 2019, marked the halfway point in the Advanced Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (better known as “SuperUROP”). The yearlong program gives MIT students firsthand experience in conducting research with close faculty mentorship. Many participants receive scholar titles recognizing the program’s industry sponsors, individual donors, and other contributors.</p> <p>This year, 102 students participated in SuperUROP, with many of their projects focused on applying computer science technologies, such as machine learning, to challenges in fields ranging from robotics to health care. Almost all presented posters of their work at the December showcase, explaining research to fellow students, faculty members, alumni, sponsors, and other guests.</p> <p>“Every year, this program gets more and more impressive,” says Anantha P. Chandrakasan, dean of the School of Engineering and Vannevar Bush Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. “What’s especially noteworthy is the incredible breadth of projects and how articulate students are in talking about their work. Their presentation skills seem pretty remarkable.”</p> <p>SuperUROP, administered by the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), includes a two-term course, 6.UAR (Undergraduate Advanced Research), designed to teach students research skills, including how to design an experiment and communicate results.</p> <p>“What’s different about SuperUROP [compared to other research opportunities offered to undergraduates] is the companion class that guides you through the necessary writing and speaking,” says Anis Ehsani, a senior majoring in EECS and mathematics, whose project centered on the geometry of drawing political districts. “If I want to pursue a research career, it’s nice to have those skills,” adds Ehsani, an MIT EECS/Nutanix SuperUROP scholar.</p> <p><strong>Beyond the lab and classroom</strong></p> <p>Participants present their work at showcases in the fall and spring, and they are expected to produce prototypes or publication-worthy results by the end of the year.</p> <p>“All these presentations help keep us on track with our projects,” says Weitung Chen, an EECS junior whose project focuses on automating excavation for mining applications. He explains that the inspiration for his SuperUROP work was a real-world problem he faced when trying to build a startup in automated food preparation. Scooping tofu, it turns out, is surprisingly difficult to automate. At the showcase, Chen — an MIT EECS/Angle SuperUROP scholar — explained that he is trying to create a simulation than can be used to train machines to scoop materials autonomously. “I feel really accomplished having this poster and presentation,” he said.</p> <p>Launched by EECS in 2012, SuperUROP has expanded across the Institute over the past several years.</p> <p>Adam Berinsky, the Mitsui Professor of Political Science, is working with SuperUROP students for the first time this year, an experience he’s enjoying. “What’s really cool is being able to give undergraduates firsthand experience in real research,” he says. He’s been able to tap students for the computer science skills he needs for his work, while providing them with a deep dive into the social sciences.</p> <p>Madeline Abrahams, an MIT/Tang Family FinTech SuperUROP scholar, says she especially appreciates the program’s flexibility: “I could explore my interdisciplinary interests,” she says. A computer science and engineering major who is also passionate about political science, Abrahams is working with Berinsky to investigate the spread of misinformation related to climate change via algorithmic aggregation platforms.</p> <p>Nicholas Bonaker also enjoyed the freedom of pursuing his SuperUROP project. “I’ve been able to take the research in the direction I want,” says Bonaker, a junior in EECS, who has developed a new algorithm he hopes will improve an assistive technology developed by his advisor, EECS Associate Professor Tamara Broderick.</p> <p><strong>Exploring new directions in health care</strong></p> <p>Bonaker said he particularly values the health-care focus of his project, which centers on creating better communications software for people living with severe motor impairments. “It feels like I’m doing something that can help people — using things I learned in class,” says Bonaker. He is among this year’s MIT EECS/CS+HASS SuperUROP scholars, whose projects combine computer science with the humanities, arts, or social sciences. &nbsp;</p> <p>Many of this year’s SuperUROP students are working on health-care applications. For example, Fatima Gunter-Rahman, a junior in EECS and biology, is examining Alzheimer’s data, and Sabrina Liu, an EECS junior and MIT EECS/Takeda SUperUROP scholar, is investigating noninvasive ways to monitor the heartrates of dental patients. Justin Lim, a senior math major, is using data analytics to try to determine the optimal treatment for chronic diseases like diabetes. “I like the feeling that my work would have real-world impact,” says Lim, an MIT EECS/Hewlett Foundation SuperUROP scholar. “It’s been very satisfying.”</p> <p>Dhamanpreet Kaur, a junior majoring in math and computer science and molecular biology, is using machine learning to determine the characteristics of patients who are readmitted to hospitals following their discharge to skilled nursing facilities. The work aims to predict who might benefit most from expensive telehealth systems that enable clinicians to monitor patients remotely. The project has given Kaur the chance to work with a multidisciplinary team of professors and doctors. “I find that aspect fascinating,” says Kaur, also an MIT EECS/Takeda SuperUROP scholar.</p> <p>As attendees bustled through the two-hour December showcase, some of the most enthusiastic visitors were industry sponsors, including Larry Bair ’84, SM ’86, a director at Advanced Micro Devices. “I’m always amazed at what undergraduates are doing,” he says, noting that his company has been sponsoring SuperUROPs for the last few years.</p> <p>“It’s always interesting to see what’s going on at MIT,” says Tom O’Dwyer, an MIT research affiliate and the former director of technology at Analog Devices, another industry sponsor. O’Dwyer notes that supporting SuperUROP can help companies with recruitment. “The whole high-tech business runs on smart people,” he says. “SuperUROPs can lead to internships and employment.”</p> <p>SuperUROP also exposes students to the work of academia, which can underscore a key difference between classwork and research: Research results are unpredictable.</p> <p>Junior math major Lior Hirschfeld, for example, compared the effectiveness of different machine learning methods used to test molecules for potential in drug development. “None of them performed exceptionally well,” he says.</p> <p>That might appear to be a poor result, but Hirschfeld notes that it’s important information for those who are using and trusting those tests today. “It shows you may not always know where you are going when you start a project,” says Hirschfeld, also an MIT EECS/Takeda SuperUROP scholar.</p> <p>EECS senior Kenneth Acquah had a similar experience with his SuperUROP project, which focuses on finding a technological way to combat money laundering with Bitcoin. “We’ve tried a bunch of things but mostly found out what doesn’t work,” he says.</p> <p>Still, Acquah says, he values the SuperUROP experience, including the chance to work in MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). "I get a lot more supervision, more one-on-one time with my mentor," the MIT/EECS Tang Family FinTech SuperUROP scholar says. "And working in CSAIL has given me access to state-of-the-art materials."</p> Madeline Abrahams, an EECS senior and MIT/Tang Family FinTech SuperUROP scholar, presents her work investigating the spread of misinformation related to climate change via algorithmic aggregation platforms at the SuperUROP Showcase. Photo: Gretchen ErtlElectrical engineering and computer science (EECS), School of Engineering, SuperUROP, Political science, School of Humanities Arts and Social Sciences, Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), Aeronautical and astronautical engineering, Chemical engineering, Civil and environmental engineering, Urban studies and planning, School of Architecture and Planning, Students, Research, Undergraduate, Classes and programs, Special events and guest speakers The new front against antibiotic resistance http://news.mit.edu/2020/new-front-against-antibiotic-resistance-deborah-hung-0123 Deborah Hung shares research strategies to combat tuberculosis as part of the Department of Biology&#039;s IAP seminar series on microbes in health and disease. Thu, 23 Jan 2020 14:40:01 -0500 Lucy Jakub | Department of Biology http://news.mit.edu/2020/new-front-against-antibiotic-resistance-deborah-hung-0123 <p>After Alexander Fleming discovered&nbsp;the antibiotic penicillin in 1928, spurring a “golden age” of drug development, many scientists thought infectious disease would become a horror of the past. But as antibiotics have been overprescribed and used without adhering to strict regimens, bacterial strains have evolved new defenses that render previously effective drugs useless. Tuberculosis, once held at bay, has surpassed HIV/AIDS as the leading cause of death from infectious disease worldwide. And research in the lab hasn’t caught up to the needs of the clinic. In recent years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved only one or two new antibiotics annually.</p> <p>While these frustrations have led many scientists and drug developers to abandon the field, researchers are finally making breakthroughs in the discovery of new antibiotics. On Jan. 9, the Department of Biology hosted a talk by one of the chemical biologists who won’t quit: Deborah Hung, core member and co-director of the Infectious Disease and Microbiome Program at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and associate professor in the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School.</p> <p>Each January during Independent Activities Period, the Department of Biology organizes a seminar series that highlights cutting-edge research in biology. Past series have included talks on synthetic and quantitative biology. This year’s theme is Microbes in Health and Disease. The team of student organizers, led by assistant professor of biology Omer Yilmaz, chose to explore our growing understanding of microbes as both pathogens and symbionts in the body. Hung’s presentation provided an invigorating introduction to the series.</p> <p>“Deborah is an international pioneer in developing tools and discovering new biology on the interaction between hosts and pathogens,” Yilmaz says. “She's done a lot of work on tuberculosis as well as other bacterial infections. So it’s a privilege for us to host her talk.”</p> <p>A clinician as well as a chemical biologist, Hung understands firsthand the urgent need for new drugs. In her talk, she addressed the conventional approaches to finding new antibiotics, and why they’ve been failing scientists for decades.</p> <p>“The rate of resistance is actually far outpacing our ability to discover new antibiotics,” she said. “I’m beginning to see patients [and] I have to tell them, I’m sorry, we have no antibiotics left.”</p> <p>The way Hung sees it, there are two long-term goals in the fight against infectious disease. The first is to find a method that will greatly speed up the discovery of new antibiotics. The other is to think beyond antibiotics altogether, and find other ways to strengthen our bodies against intruders and increase patient survival.</p> <p>Last year, in pursuit of the first goal, Hung spearheaded a multi-institutional collaboration to develop a new high-throughput screening method called PROSPECT (PRimary screening Of Strains to Prioritize Expanded Chemistry and Targets). By weakening the expression of genes essential to survival in the tuberculosis bacterium, researchers genetically engineered over 400 unique “hypomorphs,” vulnerable in different ways, that could be screened in large batches against tens of thousands of chemical compounds using PROSPECT.</p> <p>With this approach, it’s possible to identify effective drug candidates 10 times faster than ever before. Some of the compounds Hung’s team has discovered, in addition to those that hit well-known targets like DNA gyrase and the cell wall, are able to kill tuberculosis in novel ways, such as disabling the bacterium’s molecular efflux pump.</p> <p>But one of the challenges to antibiotic discovery is that the drugs that will kill a disease in a test tube won’t necessarily kill the disease in a patient. In order to address her second goal of strengthening our bodies against disease-causing microbes, Hung and her lab are now using zebrafish embryos to screen small molecules not just for their extermination of a pathogen, but for the survival of the host. This way, they can investigate drugs that have no effect on bacteria in a test tube but, in Hung’s words, “throw a wrench in the system” and interact with the host’s cells to provide immunity.</p> <p>For much of the 20th century, microbes were primarily studied as agents of harm. But, more recent research into the microbiome — the trillions of organisms that inhabit our skin, gut, and cavities — has illuminated their complex and often symbiotic relationship with our immune system and bodily functions, which antibiotics can disrupt. The other three talks in the series, featuring researchers from Harvard Medical School, delve into the connections between the microbiome and colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, and stem cells.</p> <p>“We're just starting to scratch the surface of the dance between these different microbes, both good and bad, and their role in different aspects of organismal health, in terms of regeneration and other diseases such as cancer and infection,” Yilmaz says.</p> <p>For those in the audience, these seminars are more than just a way to pass an afternoon during IAP. Hung addressed the audience as potential future collaborators, and she stressed that antibiotic research needs all hands on deck.</p> <p>“It's always a work in progress for us,” she said. “If any of you are very computationally-minded or really interested in looking at these large datasets of chemical-genetic interactions, come see me. We are always looking for new ideas and great minds who want to try to take this on.”</p> Deborah Hung’s talk kicked off a four-part Independent Activities Period seminar series, Microbes in Health and Disease.Photo: Lucy JakubBiology, Broad Institute, Independent Activities Period, School of Science, Bacteria, Data, Microbes, Research, Antibiotics, Drug development, Disease, Special events and guest speakers Nine tips for healthy social media use http://news.mit.edu/2020/mindhandheart-nine-tips-healthy-social-media-use-0123 MindHandHeart is finding new ways to encourage healthy, positive social media use. Thu, 23 Jan 2020 14:30:01 -0500 MindHandHeart http://news.mit.edu/2020/mindhandheart-nine-tips-healthy-social-media-use-0123 <p>Scrolling. Liking. Commenting. Click-click-clicking. The majority of U.S. college students spend hours each day on social media platforms and are never far from their digital devices. In this era of constant online engagement, students’ identities, experiences, and mental health are significantly impacted by social media use.</p> <p>In response to this, <a href="https://mindhandheart.mit.edu/" target="_blank">MindHandHeart</a> created a list of tips to use social media in a healthy, positive way, in partnership with <a href="https://medical.mit.edu/services/mental-health-counseling" target="_blank">Student Mental Health and Counseling Services</a> at MIT Medical, the <a href="https://studentlife.mit.edu/" target="_blank">Division of Student Life</a>, and <a href="http://activeminds.mit.edu/" target="_blank">Active Minds at MIT</a>.</p> <p>Former president of Active Minds and current graduate student Tarun Kamath contributed to the list of tips and reflects on its creation, saying: “Social media can shape a student's self-image and perception of the world, and can have an enormous influence on one's mental health. Active Minds is always looking for ways in which to improve student mental health and, by disseminating this information, we hope that students&nbsp;may shape their social media habits such that it enhances, rather than detracts from, their daily lives.”</p> <p>Complementing this list of tips, MindHandHeart and the Division of Student Life hosted study breaks in every undergraduate residence on the topic of social media and mental health in spring 2019. Students met for dinner and watched the film “Eighth Grade,” which touches on themes of social media overuse, anxiety, and growing up in today’s digital age.</p> <p>In fall 2019, MindHandHeart and the <a href="https://commforum.mit.edu/">Communications Forum</a> hosted a dialogue on social media and mental health featuring Bo Burnham, comedian and director of “Eighth Grade,” and Jonny Sun, comedic author and MIT PhD candidate. Over 600 people crowded into 26-100 to hear Burnham and Sun discuss how the digital world is shaping young peoples’ identities and experiences. Both Burnham and Sun rose to fame through social media platforms and have been open about their struggles with mental health. A recap of the event by MIT Admissions Blogger and first-year student Cami M. is available on the <a href="https://mitadmissions.org/blogs/entry/digital-anxieties-a-conversation-with-bo-burnham-and-jonny-sun/">MIT Admissions Blog</a>.</p> <p>Read through our list of tips below and consider how they might apply to your own social media use.</p> <p>1. Support a healthy online community. Before you comment, let your words pass through three gates: At the first gate, ask yourself “Is it true?” At the second gate ask, “Is it necessary?” At the third gate ask, “Is it kind?” (Inspired by a quote from Rumi, a 13th-century Persian poet.)</p> <p>2. Live in the moment. Photos and videos have their place, but awareness of the present moment is crucial to your connections and experiences! A <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S002210311730505X" target="_blank">recent study</a> published in the <em>Journal of Experimental Social Psychology</em> by Tamira et.al. reports that media usage could even change or reduce memories of life events. So capture that amazing sunset, but don’t forget to enjoy it, too.</p> <p>3. Link instead of compare. Comparing yourself to other people can make you unhappy in the long run, whereas making genuine connections with others can enhance your overall well-being. If you are on social media for a few minutes, mindfully ask yourself, “Am I comparing? Or linking?” Take a moment to do something that links you — reach out to an old friend or elder relative and send them something to brighten their day.</p> <p>4. Follow people and things that bring you joy. A lot of social media content is highly curated and may represent lifestyles and attitudes that don’t exist. To account for this, consider limiting the number of people you follow on social media. This could mean only following those who are close to you, make you feel good, and will be there when you need them.</p> <p>5. Keep things IRL (In Real Life). If social media is causing you any stress, consider deleting apps such as Facebook and Instagram from your phone so that you don’t have easy access to them. Prioritize time spent with friends and family over time spent scrolling through social media.</p> <p>6. Start your day intentionally. As easy as it is to pick up your phone and start scrolling from your bed, it may not be the healthiest way to begin your day, as you cannot control what you’re going to see. Seeing something negative could potentially contribute negative subconscious thoughts that put one at risk for unhealthy patterns, according to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3621343/" target="_blank">research conducted by Marcus Raichle</a> at Washington University in St. Louis. Try starting with meditation, prayer, stretching, or positive affirmations instead. These alternatives are likely to support a healthier internal monologue.</p> <p>7. Make events accessible. If you’re planning an event, be sure there are other ways for people to RSVP who aren’t on Facebook or other social media platforms.</p> <p>8. Take a break and support others in doing so. If a friend is struggling with social media overuse and wants to take a break from it or use blocking apps, support them and don’t make fun of them. Join them in the break, if possible.</p> <p>9. Don’t struggle alone. If you are experiencing anxiety, depression, attention problems, or any other deeper issue related to social media overuse, make an appointment to talk with someone who can help you feel better again. MIT offers an array of peer, group, and counseling services. Visit <a href="https://resources.mit.edu/resources/personal-support">resources.mit.edu/resources/personal-support</a> to learn more.</p> The majority of U.S. college students spend hours each day on social media platforms, which can impact mental health and overall well-being.MindHandHeart, Mental health, Community, Social media, Student life, Special events and guest speakers MIT graduate students lead conference on microsystems and nanotechnology http://news.mit.edu/2020/students-lead-2020-microsystems-annual-research-conference-0122 Student committee puts together research showcase while balancing coursework, qualifying exams, and extracurriculars. Wed, 22 Jan 2020 12:30:01 -0500 Amanda Stoll | MIT.nano http://news.mit.edu/2020/students-lead-2020-microsystems-annual-research-conference-0122 <p>Organizing the Microsystems Annual Research Conference (<a href="https://www.mtl.mit.edu/events-seminars/microsystems-annual-research-conferences-marc">MARC</a>) is no small feat. Each January during the MIT Independent Activities Period, more than 200 students, faculty, staff, postdocs, and industry members come together at an off-campus site to explore technical achievements and research ideas at the forefront of microsystems and nanotechnology.</p> <p>The secret to MARC’s success year after year? A student committee that handles every aspect of coordinating and executing the showcase event, to be held this year in late January in New Hampshire. Chaired by MIT doctoral students Mayuran Saravanapavanantham and Rachel Yang, the 2020 student leaders arrange for research talks, poster presentations, keynote lectures, and all of the logistics for transporting scores of attendees to and from the conference.</p> <p>Part research symposium and part networking event, MARC strives to share new research directions, identify job opportunities, and help participants refine their technical communications skills — with a bit of skiing and snowshoeing on the side.</p> <p>“MARC has many moving parts that have to be managed simultaneously,” says Saravanapavanantham, a third-year graduate student in Professor Vladimir Bulović’s Organic and Nanostructured Electronics (ONE) Lab. “In planning a large, off-campus conference, it’s really important to have a strong, dedicated committee. MARC caters to a broad audience, so we have to make sure we tie everything together to keep everyone engaged.”</p> <p>Saravanapavanantham and Yang have each participated in two previous MARC conferences. Together, they have been overseeing a student committee of 13 individuals over the past six months to recreate positive elements of previous MARCs and generate new solutions to old challenges.</p> <p><strong>A strong foundation</strong></p> <p>Now in its 16th year, the conference has expanded significantly since its inception. It grew out of the semesterly VLSI Research Reviews, which began in 1984 under the Microsystems Research Center. From there, it evolved into a faculty-run research review that became known as the Microsystems Technology Laboratories (MTL) Annual Student Review. In 2005, the event was rebranded as MARC and became the student-run conference that exists today. This year, the conference is co-sponsored for the first time by MTL and MIT.nano.</p> <p>The organizing committee comprises eight core committee members and five session chairs. The core committee takes on logistical responsibilities such as finding speakers, building the agenda, and working with vendors, while the session chairs focus on abstract submissions from over 90 MIT student presenters.</p> <p>To keep on track, the team follows a strict timeline passed down from previous MARC co-chairs. The committee must monitor not only registration deadlines, but hotel reservations, transportation, printing of materials, and abstract reviews.</p> <p>This year, the responsibilities are broken into eight categories, each chaired by a different PhD student: Navid Abedzadeh of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Scence (EECS) is managing photography; Jessica Boles of EECS is managing communications training; Elaine McVay of EECS is managing social activities; Rishabh Mittal of EECS is managing registration logistics; Jatin Patil of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering is managing the website and proceedings; Morteza Sarmadi of the Department of Mechanical Engineering (MechE) is managing outreach; Jay Sircar of MechE is managing winter activities and transportation; and Miaorong Wang of EECS is managing audio/visual presentations.</p> <p><strong>Appealing to a wide audience</strong></p> <p>“One of the greatest challenges of MARC is promoting the event to encourage students, faculty, staff, and industry members to attend,” explains Yang, a second-year graduate student working on power magnetics design in Professor David Perreault’s power electronics group. “This year, we dedicated more efforts to our marketing, including adding an outreach chair to our committee.”</p> <p>Their efforts paid off with 20 faculty and PIs registered to attend, a significant increase from previous years. The MARC committee also decided to make poster pitches optional in 2020 to increase students’ interest in participating.</p> <p>Each year, MARC aims to host 100 poster presenters from nearly 40 research groups across seven categories. Participating students are required to go through at least one round of abstract feedback and edits, maintaining MARC’s reputation of high-quality writing. “Communications training is an essential part of the conference. We train students in abstract writing, poster design, and pitch preparation,” says Saravanapavanantham. “This helps MARC participants prepare to submit their work at future conferences.”</p> <p>Abstracts are divided into eight categories that are reviewed by the 2020 session chairs. Topics include electronic and quantum devices, energy harvesting, medical devices, biotechnology, and photonics, to name a few. The five MIT students reviewing this year’s abstract submissions, all current EECS PhD students, are Mohamed Ibrahim, Kruthika Kikkeri, Jane Lai, Haozhe Wang and Qingyun Xie.</p> <p>The student committee is also charged with identifying and securing keynote speakers who are experts in their field. The 2020 keynote lectures will focus on driving innovation at all scales. The speakers include Reed Sturtevant, who, as general partner of The Engine, a venture capital firm built by MIT, facilitates the launch of new technologies through startup incubation; and Mark Rosker, director of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Microsystems Technology Office, which sets direction for micro/nanoelectronics research at a national level.</p> <p>Saravanapavanantham and Yang are excited to see the committee’s planning efforts come to life at MARC 2020. The two are also looking toward the future, documenting their processes and reflecting on their visions for the future: “We hope this conference will continue to grow as a platform to inspire ideas and to foster research collaboration between MIT and industry,” said Yang.</p> Left to right: MARC committee members and MIT graduate students Navid Abedzadeh, Mayuran Saravanapavanantham, Haozhe Wang, Elaine McVay, Qingyun Xie, Jatin Patil, Jessica Boles, Rachel Yang, and Rishabh Mittal. Photo: Navid AbedzadehMicrosystems Technology Laboratories, MIT.nano, Special events and guest speakers, Mechanical engineering, Graduate, postdoctoral, DMSE, Industry, electronics, Independent Activities Period, Students, Nanoscience and nanotechnology, School of Engineering Reasons to go outside http://news.mit.edu/2020/reasons-to-go-outside-mit-mindhandheart-0121 A MindHandHeart Innovation Fund project spearheaded by staff member Angelique Scarpa is bringing elements of nature to MIT. Tue, 21 Jan 2020 12:30:01 -0500 Maisie O’Brien | MindHandHeart http://news.mit.edu/2020/reasons-to-go-outside-mit-mindhandheart-0121 <p>Angelique Scarpa, an administrative assistant in the Department of Chemical Engineering, adores birds of prey. An avid bird watcher and nature enthusiast, she is awed by soaring hawks, hooting owls, and majestic eagles.</p> <p>Over the past year, Scarpa has been working to share her passion for the natural world with members of her department. She received funding from the <a href="https://mindhandheart.mit.edu/innovation-fund">MindHandHeart Innovation Fund</a> to launch her “Reasons to Go Outside” project.</p> <p>Consisting of a website and event series, her project arose out of a grant writing class she took at the Harvard Extension School. “We were required to draft a fake proposal as part of the course,” Scarpa recalls. “The idea to bring a nature-themed, community-building project to the chemical engineering department was already on my mind, so I decided to make it happen for real. I looked into what grant programs were available for MIT staff and stumbled upon the MindHandHeart Innovation Fund, which was a great find.”</p> <p>The first part of her project consisted of a website mapping out the green spaces in and around MIT as well as those located a short distance away, accessible by public transportation (<a href="http://reasonstogooutside.wordpress.com">reasonstogooutside.wordpress.com</a>). Scarpa added maps and video directions for several sites, including the Kendall Roof Garden, the Charles River paths, and Fresh Pond Reservoir. The site also features bird watching tips, book recommendations, and other nature-themed resources.</p> <p>Brian Smith, the environmental health and safety coordinator in the Department of Chemical Engineering, provided feedback to Scarpa as her site was coming together. “I think Angelique’s site will inspire people to go outside,” Smith says. “It’s visually engaging and particularly useful for students who are not familiar with the area and are looking for ways to be in nature and get out of the MIT bubble.”</p> <p>In fall 2018, Scarpa hosted a nature presentation for members of the chemical engineering department, featuring a teacher naturalist from <a href="https://www.massaudubon.org/get-outdoors/wildlife-sanctuaries/drumlin-farm">Drumlin Farm</a> and a host of animals, including a great horned owl, red-tailed hawk, and striped skunk. This fall, she organized two nature journaling workshops with illustrator and naturalist Clare Walker Leslie.</p> <p>Chun Man Chow, a PhD student in chemical engineering, attended the workshops and reflected on them, saying “Nature journaling offers me the chance to take a break from my typical work day. I can pause and observe the world around me with all of my senses. Even amidst our industrial-looking MIT buildings, there is quite a bit of wildlife. Since the events, I started nature journaling on my own, and it’s been really rewarding.”</p> <p>“Looking around and seeing people enjoying themselves at these events was so fulfilling,” says Scarpa. “I think being drawn to nature is part of our human biological makeup. Being outside and being in tune with the rhythms of nature can help bring people back in touch with their minds, bodies, and hearts.”</p> <p>Considering what advice she would give to others considering implementing community-building projects in their departments, Scarpa says: “Absolutely go for it! Working with MindHandHeart and my colleagues in my department to launch this initiative has been a wonderful experience.”</p> <p>This semester, she is hoping to gather interested students, faculty, and staff for brief nature journaling sessions on MIT’s campus. “Time spent in nature has vastly improved my mood, outlook, and life overall,” says Scarpa. “I look forward to sharing the wealth of what I’ve learned from time spent outside.”</p> <p>MIT staff, faculty, students, and students’ spouses can apply to the <a href="https://mindhandheart.mit.edu/innovation-fund">MindHandHeart Innovation Fund</a> to realize their ideas to make MIT a more welcoming, inclusive, and healthy place. The next funding cycle opens March 1-31.</p> Angelique Scarpa, an administrative assistant in the Department of Chemical Engineering, is encouraging MIT community members to spend time in nature.Photo: Maisie O'BrienMindHandHeart, Chemical engineering, Community, Mental health, Special events and guest speakers, Cambridge, Boston and region, Staff, Classes and programs Celebrating four years of MindHandHeart http://news.mit.edu/2019/celebrating-four-years-mindhandheart-1218 Over 600 members of the community gathered to recognize MindHandHeart’s work to make MIT a healthier and more welcoming place. Wed, 18 Dec 2019 15:45:01 -0500 Stephanie Tran | Division of Student Life http://news.mit.edu/2019/celebrating-four-years-mindhandheart-1218 <p>MIT’s <a href="http://mindhandheart.mit.edu/">MindHandHeart</a> (MHH) hosted its 4th birthday celebration on Dec. 2 in the Vannevar Bush Room to commemorate and reflect on four years of making the MIT community a more healthy, welcoming, and inclusive place. The Office of the Chancellor and MIT Medical launched MindHandHeart in September 2015.</p> <p>Over 600 members of the MIT community enjoyed ice cream treats and Georgetown cupcakes with the MHH logo while viewing poster displays of MHH’s timeline of accomplishments over the past four <a href="https://mindhandheart.mit.edu/impact">years</a>.</p> <div class="cms-placeholder-content-video"></div> <p>In addition to the sweet treats and free giveaways, various MIT support resources and previous MHH Innovation Fund recipients — <a href="http://ua.mit.edu/innovation">UA Innovation Committee</a>, <a href="http://activeminds.mit.edu/">Active Minds</a>, <a href="http://ua.mit.edu/student-support-and-wellness">UA Wellness</a>, <a href="http://puppylab.mit.edu/">MIT Puppy Lab</a>, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1Z9a0Pdxa4vF3O9_HofRBw">FAIL!</a>, the <a href="https://tll.mit.edu/">MIT Teaching and Learning Lab</a>, and <a href="http://wgs.mit.edu/">MIT’s Program in Women's and Gender Studies</a> — tabled at the event.</p> <p>Over the last four years, MHH has engaged over 200 volunteers (students, faculty, and staff), supported 137 Innovation Fund projects, and worked together with campus partners to create a positive culture around mental health and well-being at MIT.</p> <p>Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart, Vice Chancellor Ian Waitz, Vice President and Dean for Student Life Suzy Nelson, and MindHandHeart Executive Administrator Maryanne Kirkbride were all in attendance to recognize the strides community members have taken toward building a healthier, stronger community.</p> <p>“MindHandHeart’s birthday celebration was all about bringing our community together, because that’s what this effort been focused on for the past four years,” says Barnhart. “It was so nice to see innovation fund recipients, support and wellness experts, and caring students, staff, and faculty — the individuals who help put the ‘heart’ in MIT — all in one place during such a busy time of the semester.”</p> <p>MindHandHeart is a coalition of students, faculty, and staff with fresh insights, new ideas, and diverse perspectives working collaboratively and strategically to strengthen the fabric of our MIT community.</p> <p>Co-sponsored by the&nbsp;<a href="https://chancellor.mit.edu/">Office of the Chancellor</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="https://medical.mit.edu/">MIT Medical</a>&nbsp;and led by Faculty Chair&nbsp;Rosalind Picard, MindHandHeart promotes well-being on campus through four main channels: the <a href="https://mindhandheart.mit.edu/innovation-fund">Innovation Fund</a>, the volunteer coalition, strategic campus partnerships, and the <a href="https://mindhandheart.mit.edu/about/department-support-project">Department Support Project</a>.</p> Tim the Beaver takes photos with members of the community at MindHandHeart's 4th birthday celebration.Photo: Stephanie Tran/DSL CommunicationsStudent life, Division of Student Life, Chancellor, MIT Medical, MindHandHeart, Community, Campus services, Special events and guest speakers Workshop connects microscale mechanics to real-world alloy design http://news.mit.edu/2019/mit-alloy-design-workshop-1217 “Micromechanics informed alloy design: Overcoming scale-transition challenges” focuses on bridging scale gaps. Tue, 17 Dec 2019 14:45:01 -0500 Materials Research Laboratory http://news.mit.edu/2019/mit-alloy-design-workshop-1217 <p>New micro- and nanomechanical tests reveal the behavior of metal alloys at the micro- and nanoscale, but integrating these findings into engineering-scale metal-alloy designs and products remains a challenge.&nbsp;</p> <p>“I can go and test a tiny volume of a metal to learn about how it behaves.&nbsp;This is very interesting because it gives us insight about some of the fundamental characteristics of material, because as you can imagine, if you are probing smaller and smaller volumes, then you look at simpler and simpler structures,” says <a href="https://dmse.mit.edu/people/c-cem-tasan">C. Cem Taşan</a>, associate professor of metallurgy.&nbsp;</p> <p>“Still, at the macro world — the alloys, the materials that we all use — they have complicated microstructures. They are not simple at all,” he says. “The big challenge is, how do I connect the world of grains and atoms at the micro and nano scale to the deformations and crashes and impacts at the engineering macro scale.”</p> <p>More than 50 students and professors from multiple departments and universities, as well as representatives from industry, participated in the third annual <a href="https://tasan.mit.edu/news/alloys-design-workshop/program/">Alloy Design Workshop</a> at MIT on Dec. 6. The workshop, titled “Micro-mechanics informed alloy design: Overcoming scale-transition challenges,” focused on bridging scale gaps, enabling complex alloy design through the understanding of fundamental nano-scale mechanisms of plasticity and fracture mechanics. This year’s workshop sponsors were Allegheny Technologies Incorporated (<a href="https://www.atimetals.com/">ATI</a>) and ExxonMobil.<br /> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /> “There are specific challenges associated with carrying this information that is from the micro and nano scale to the engineering world, the scale you and I can see with our eye. That’s why we invited eight leading professors in the world to give talks,” Taşan says. The workshop ended with a panel discussion that included professors Timothy P. Weihs from Johns Hopkins University, Amy Clarke from Colorado School of Mines, Mitra Taheri from Johns Hopkins University, Sharvan Kumar from Brown University, Thomas Bieler from Michigan State University, and Motomichi Koyama from Tohoku University.</p> <p>In her presentation, Clarke described her work studying solidification of materials such as <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/adem.201400469">aluminum-copper alloy melts</a>. This real-time imaging with synchrotron X‐rays allows her to map out the processing space. These experiments also provide information that had been missing in aluminum copper alloy simulations, or models, she noted.&nbsp;</p> <p>Humankind has been working metal for 4,000 years, mostly by trial-and-error up until the scientific age. “For some students, they may have the feeling maybe there isn’t so much new to be said in this field, a field that is thousands of years old,” Taşan observes. Yet, metals remain central to modern transportation, building, packaging, and many other key industries. “There is no projection I can think of in the near future where metals dominance in these structural applications is going to be significantly reduced,” Taşan notes. While newer composite materials may replace some metal components, “There is not a huge change coming, as we still need the properties metallic materials exhibit.”</p> <p>Taşan noted what Apple Materials Engineering Director Jim Yurko spoke about in his recent Wulff lecture at MIT. “Why is a company that produces phones and computers interested in casting and heat treatment of aluminum alloys, to optimize their microstructure and precipitation?” Taşan asks. “Because they use aluminum and they need to somehow produce it, and solve the small problems with it. We do not always realize it, but metals are widely incorporated in most engineering products around us.”</p> <p>“It’s very interesting that in this field — metallurgy and alloy design&nbsp;— challenges and solutions are distributed widely,” Taşan says. “In a single day, I may meet with a person from the jewelry industry and then somebody from the trucking or automotive industries. Very different materials, similar problems, and they all want solutions to their problems.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Car and truck makers seek steel designs that are higher in strength, because stronger steel allows them to use less steel, which lightens vehicles and cuts fuel consumption. “But there is an interesting dilemma,” Taşan says. “Typically, if you make a material stronger, it becomes more susceptible to cracking and fracture. You can increase strength, but the more you increase strength, the less you can form complex shapes during manufacturing.</p> <p>“This is an ongoing challenge. Researchers have been looking for different chemistries, different processing cycles, to be able to create microstructures that give both strength and ductility,” he says.</p> <p>Taşan created the Alloy Design Workshops to emphasize the continued importance of alloy design in modern materials science. The workshop is held each year on the last day of the Materials Research Society Fall Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts, to provide an opportunity for the MIT community and the materials community as a whole to congregate in an intimate setting to present and discuss new, unpublished research.</p> <p><a href="https://tasan.mit.edu/news/alloys-design-workshop/venuephotos/">Previous workshops</a> covered the topics of “New guidelines in alloy design: From atomistic simulations to combinatorial metallurgy” and “Sustainability through alloy design: Challenges and opportunities.”</p> Attendees joined a group photo at the 2019 MIT Alloy Design Workshop, which focused on bridging scale gaps, enabling complex alloy design through the understanding of fundamental nanoscale mechanisms of plasticity and fracture mechanics.Photo courtesy of Tasan Group.Materials Research Laboratory, Materials Science and Engineering, Metals, School of Engineering, Special events and guest speakers, Nanoscience and nanotechnology Hacking into a sustainable energy future http://news.mit.edu/2019/hacking-enable-transition-sustainable-energy-future-1211 The 2019 MIT EnergyHack presented opportunities for students and companies to collaborate and solve problems facing the energy sector today. Wed, 11 Dec 2019 14:45:01 -0500 Taylor Tracy | Energy Club http://news.mit.edu/2019/hacking-enable-transition-sustainable-energy-future-1211 <p>During the third weekend in November, students from MIT and colleges across the globe convened on MIT’s campus to hack real-world challenges in the energy industry at the 2019 MIT EnergyHack. Hackers arrived at the Stata Center that Friday evening and had 36 hours to come up with a solution to the challenge they were assigned with their team members before presenting to company representatives, fellow hackers, and judges Sunday morning.</p> <p>This year, MIT’s only energy-centric hackathon, hosted by the <a href="http://mitenergyclub.org">MIT Energy Club</a>, focused on transitioning society toward its sustainability goals for a low-carbon energy landscape, with corporate sponsors exclusive to the areas of renewable energy, energy storage, and sustainable materials manufacturing.</p> <p>Staying true to the theme, the leadership team, led by managing directors Supratim Das, a PhD and MBA dual-degree candidate in chemical engineering, and Jane Reed, a senior in physics and nuclear science and engineering, minimized waste by supplying hackers with reusable aluminum water bottles and bamboo utensil kits to decrease the use of plastic, and also communicated electronically instead of through printed materials.</p> <p>“We wanted the participants to come away recognizing the importance of engaging in sustainable actions in day-to-day life while being an agent to propagate the message of sustainability and action on climate change to their home countries,” says Das.</p> <p>Challenges were presented by Customer First Renewables, Iberdrola, Ionic Materials, NICE, Saint-Gobain, Toyota Research Institute, and The Energy Authority. Each challenge had a primary focus on finding ways to harness solar, wind, and energy-storage technologies to meet society’s growing energy demands worldwide.</p> <p>While lithium-ion batteries were a primary topic for several challenges, each challenge offered different core problems to tackle. During his keynote Friday night, Patrick Herring, research scientist at Toyota Research Institute, emphasized the need for collaboration in the battery storage energy sector for a sustainable future — particularly with electric-vehicle batteries. This tied into the Toyota Research Institute’s challenge, which had hackers consider the full lifespan of batteries.</p> <p>“The challenge that we presented for having some kind of second life for batteries grows out of a need that we see coming down the road, but we don’t really have a great solution — there’s not a great solution out there,” said Herring. “It’s good to start people thinking about it before it gets here.”</p> <p>Thinking about the future was shared by many at the event, but not only regarding the future of energy on a global scale. “For us, it was a chance to meet a couple of hundred students and engineers in the world and learn about them and have them learn about us,” said Julia Di-Corleto, director of Saint-Gobain's research and development center in Massachusetts, when asked about what takeaways their company sought to gain from presenting a challenge in the hackathon.</p> <p>The sentiments of collaborating with students beyond the EnergyHack was a common theme. “Something unique is to have the opportunity to really get in touch directly with the students and know what they want for the future, and share our project. I’m sure we're all listening to great ideas and maybe we can move forward [together],” said Roberto Mariscal, head of innovation at Iberdrola Spain. “The diversity of the people, it’s incredible. I have met people from all over the world in just half an hour, it’s fantastic. That’s something unique from MIT.”</p> <p>One team for each challenge advanced from the preliminary poster presentation judging session to the final presentation round, where they pitched their solutions to a crowded auditorium with all the event’s attendees. Team Booth came in third, winning $1,000 for their solution to the Ionic Materials challenge; team Big Decentralized Energy came in second, winning $1,500 for their solution to the Iberdrola challenge; and team Synergy took first place, winning $2,000 for their solution to the Toyota Research Institute challenge. Solutions to the challenges can be viewed on the <a href="http://mitenergyhack.org">MIT EnergyHack website</a>.</p> <p>The turnout for the event, now in its fifth year, speaks to its own sustainability and the growing attraction to address energy issues. “It is indeed rare that you have over 150 students motivated about energy along with more than 10 corporate sponsors under the same roof, ready to listen to new ideas and make changes happen on a global scale,” says Das. “It is truly what MIT as a university stands for.”</p> Students gather in the Stata Center to hear the 2019 MIT EnergyHack challenges. Participants had 36 hours to come up with a solution to the challenge they were assigned with their team members before presenting to company representatives, fellow hackers, and judges.Photo: MIT EnergyHackSpecial events and guest speakers, Invention, Industry, Energy, Sustainability, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E), Students, Student life, Contests and academic competions Getting the carbon out of the electricity sector http://news.mit.edu/2019/decarbonizing-electricity-sector-1209 MIT symposium looks at the role of advances in storage, solar, nuclear, EVs and more in cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Mon, 09 Dec 2019 09:55:45 -0500 David L. Chandler | MIT News Office http://news.mit.edu/2019/decarbonizing-electricity-sector-1209 <p>The generation of electricity is a huge contributor to the world’s emissions of climate-altering greenhouse gases, producing some 25 percent globally. That’s because more than two-thirds of the world’s electricity is still being produced by burning fossil fuels. But progress in a variety of areas could allow for drastic reductions in those emissions, as several specialists in engineering and economics outlined last week at the third of six climate change symposia being held this academic year at MIT.</p> <p>Titled “Decarbonizing the Electricity Sector,” the symposium centered on four areas: improvements in solar energy and storage systems, advances in nuclear power and fusion, electric vehicles, and expanding access to electricity in the developing world while curbing emissions.</p> <p>“Globally, we are in the midst of a major decarbonization strategy to create clean electricity,” said Paul Joskow, a professor of economics at MIT’s Sloan School of Management and co-moderator of the symposium. But, he said, it will also be essential to cut emissions from the other major sectors, especially in transportation and in building operations.</p> <p>Jessika Trancik, an associate professor of energy studies at MIT’s Institute for Data, Systems, and Society and the event’s other moderator, said that “solar represents one of the biggest successes,” given that solar module prices have dropped by 90 percent since 2000. But there is still great potential for significant further progress in the next few years.</p> <p>Moungi Bawendi, the Lester Wolfe Professor of Chemistry, described some promising research on solar technology, including the use of perovskite-based solar cells with potential for much greater output for a given weight. This technology may open up possibilities for solar panels that could be integrated into building exteriors, including transparent ones incorporated in windows.</p> <p>The material is soluble and could be produced in a roll-to-roll process like printing a newspaper, potentially making it inexpensive and easy to deploy, Bawendi said. Today, “it’s within striking distance of silicon” in its efficiency. Because it is a hundred times more absorbent of solar energy than silicon, “it can be made a hundred times thinner and still collect the same amount of light,” he said. But there are still challenges related to scaling up its production and making it more durable when exposed to water. “It’s an engineering problem that can be solved,” he said.</p> <p>As for storage, which is crucial as solar and wind power become larger components of the world’s generating capacity, there is great progress in that field as well. Currently, over 90 percent of storage capacity in the electric grid is in the form of lithium-ion batteries, said Yet-Ming Chiang, the Kyocera Professor of Materials Science. But more cost-effective alternatives are under development, which could enable rapid expansion of renewables.</p> <p>For example, he described efforts to develop batteries based on much cheaper and more abundant materials than lithium, including sulfur and zinc. Prices for some kinds of batteries based on such materials could potentially drop to as little as $1 per kilowatt hour, compared to about $160 for today’s lithium-ion batteries, he suggested.</p> <p>Other kinds of batteries, emphasizing storage capacity for a given weight, are also being developed, which might help expand battery power into areas such as aviation, where it has not played a role so far, he said. Still others might be used for backup storage; these may be used infrequently but would remain stable for long periods.</p> <p>Jacopo Buongiorno, the TEPCO Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering, described a recent <a href="https://news.mit.edu/2018/mitei-releases-report-future-nuclear-energy-0904">report</a> that he led, on the future of nuclear technology, which found several areas of new kinds of nuclear plant designs that hold promise for future installations. But he said at this point such potential is mostly in other countries, as there is little interest among domestic utility companies today. New designs, including ones that are modular and standardized to reduce construction costs, could help to revitalize that industry.</p> <p>Meanwhile, promising work on fusion power, which if perfected could provide virtually limitless emissions-free power, is progressing well on several fronts, said Earl Marmar, a senior research scientist in MIT’s physics department. One key to that has been the development of improved superconductors, enabling a drastic reduction in the size of a fusion plant needed to produce a given amount of power. That technology is at the heart of an ongoing <a href="https://news.mit.edu/2019/progress-practical-fusion-energy-0124">joint project</a> between MIT and Commonwealth Fusion Systems.</p> <p>Another factor that could help in the transition away from fossil fuels is the increasing use of electric cars. Trancik said that today, the use of an electric car reduces emissions per mile travelled by about 30 percent on average, but that depends crucially on the mix of generating sources used in the grid at the location and time when the car is recharged. Cars charged entirely by solar power would eliminate their emissions altogether.</p> <p>David Keith, an assistant professor of systems dynamics at MIT Sloan, said “my question is how quickly can electric vehicles diffuse into the fleet?” He pointed out that there are some 250 million cars in this country, and their average lifetime is 15 years, so the turnover is a slow process. Currently, even though virtually all automakers offer some kind of electric model, their sales still represent a very small fraction of the total.</p> <p>Christopher Knittel, the George P. Shultz Professor at MIT Sloan, said there has been great progress in lowering the costs of the kind of lightweight batteries needed for electric vehicles, and that as those prices continue to fall, that could unleash rapid growth in the penetration of electric vehicles into the market. They will soon reach the point where battery prices will no longer cause electric vehicles to be costlier than their gasoline counterparts, and that could be a turning point, he said.</p> <p>But as the use of electricity grows around the world, any progress in reducing emissions in the industrialized world could be offset if new generating capacity in the developing world follows the same fossil-based trajectory other nations have. That can sometimes be the most accessible option, however, so finding ways to hold emissions down while advancing the availability of reliable power can be a challenge.</p> <p>Kate Steel, co-founder of Nithio, described how her company approaches that issue by providing simple, low-cost, solar-powered installations that can provide some basic services, such as lighting and cellphone charging, to people in regions not yet served by reliable electric grids or any service at all.</p> <p>Rob Stoner, deputy director for science and technology at the MIT Energy Initiative, said that there are presently about 800 million people worldwide without access to electricity. While there is a goal of providing universal access by 2050, that will be very challenging to achieve, he said.</p> Moungi Bawendi, the Lester Wolfe Professor of Chemistry at MIT, described recent progress on new kinds of solar cell materials.Image: Jake BelcherMIT Energy Initiative, ESI, Climate, Climate change, Special events and guest speakers, Sustainability, Global Warming, Batteries, Renewable energy, Energy storage, Automobiles, Policy, Environment, Emissions Journalists and academics explore the communication of science http://news.mit.edu/2019/spreading-facts-communication-science-1206 Daylong symposium at MIT showcases innovative ways of sharing facts and building trust in research results. Fri, 06 Dec 2019 16:48:41 -0500 David L. Chandler | MIT News Office http://news.mit.edu/2019/spreading-facts-communication-science-1206 <p>The amount of trust people place in different professions has ebbed and flowed over the years, though in recent years faith in most categories has plummeted, with Congress and the press among the least-trusted groups, surveys have shown. Trust in scientists, by contrast, has remained remarkably steady, at a level that’s comparatively high but still only around 40 percent.</p> <p>The ways that information about science gets out to the public have changed significantly in recent years, with newsrooms downsizing nationwide, sources of misinformation proliferating, and skepticism growing about what is reported, including about science. To explore ways of building trust in science and communicating accurate information, a daylong symposium at MIT convened journalists working at newspapers, magazines, podcasts and videos; academics who study science communications; and scientists who focus on communicating with the public.</p> <p>The symposium, titled “Spreading facts: communicating science for a better world,” was co-sponsored by <em>MIT Technology Review</em>, MIT Press, and the Knowledge Futures Group. The Dec. 3 event drew 175 participants at MIT’s Samberg Conference Center despite a snowstorm that had delayed the institute’s opening that day.</p> <p>In a keynote address, Marcia McNutt, president of the National Academy of Sciences, mentioned that last year the Oxford English Dictionary picked “post-truth” as its word of the year, referring to a time when “feelings and intuition are valued above scientific analysis.”</p> <p>In part, that reflects an idea that “science may be motivated by concerns that are not those of the public,” she said. “Many members of the public don’t understand the self-correcting nature of science” and don’t adequately distinguish between the results of a single study and a clear scientific consensus built up over time, McNutt said.</p> <p>She used the analogy of a giant game of Jenga, where a tall tower is built from blocks that are then removed one at a time until the tower topples. Similarly, she said, scientific consensus is built up from many pieces over time, but it’s always subject to review if one of those lower pieces is removed. If a few key studies are withdrawn or found to have been significantly flawed, the tower may crumble, an event known in science as a paradigm shift, when theories undergo fundamental changes.</p> <p>She said that in communicating science, while scientists are trained to present everything in a neutral and impersonal way, “for the public, the scientists and their stories are important. They want to know that there are real people involved.”</p> <p>McNutt offered some suggestions on how the public’s trust in science could be improved. First, there should be improvements in the peer review system, including dealing with issues such as predatory journals that don’t carry out the reviews they claim, and peer review rings where people agree to provide each other positive reviews. People should also be recognized for the work they do in carrying out peer reviews.</p> <p>“We need to clearly signal which papers have earned trust,” she said, proposing a system of badges for papers that have passed certain specific criteria for validation.</p> <p>When dealing with people who are skeptical of science or of some particular aspect of it, McNutt said it’s important to be clear about terminology. For example, if asked whether she believes in climate change, she answers: “There is an evidentiary basis for climate change.”</p> <p>“To say you believe puts it in the same realm as religion. You need to distinguish between what has predictive power and what doesn’t,” she said.</p> <p>In a panel discussion, Mariette DiChristina, dean of the Boston University College of Communication and former editor of <em>Scientific American</em>, noted that “the industry has fairly imploded in the past 10 years,” with an estimated one in four journalism jobs being eliminated. Charles Seife, a professor of journalism at New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, agreed that “these are hard times for science journalists.” A few years ago, he said, the number of active journalists in comparison to other communications professionals, such as public relations specialists, was 1 to 3. It’s now 1 to 5 or more.</p> <p>Because of the many new channels of communication available, someone coming right out of journalism school “can build a large audience very quickly, if they have something to say,” Seife said.</p> <p>A good example of that is recent MIT graduate Dianna Cowern, who has built a large following on YouTube as “Physics Girl,” and who appeared on a separate panel at Tuesday’s event. With more than a million followers, Cowern’s channel has been funded by the PBS network for the last four years, and some of her videos have gone viral. “Going viral is not an easy thing for science videos,” she said, since they have to compete with millions of cute cat videos. One of her most successful videos depicts an experiment to see how high the top ball in a pile of three dropped balls would bounce.</p> <p>The main thing to strive for to get wide viewership online, she said, is “shareability.” She quipped: “As Einstein said, nothing is worth doing unless you can share it on Facebook.” Novelty, curiosity, and excitement also play a strong part in her short, slightly zany videos.</p> <p>John Randell, director of science, engineering and technology programs at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, described research on the public’s trust of leaders in various professions since 1973. The military has tended toward the top tiers of trust, although attitudes toward it have seesawed up and down dramatically over the years. By contrast, trust in scientists has remained very steady at around 40 percent over that whole period, though it has shown a recent small uptick. Trust in the press and in Congress, meanwhile, are now under 10 percent.</p> <p>But in the same surveys, about 70 percent of respondents say that the benefits of scientific research outweigh its harmful effects, Randell said. And younger Americans have greater trust in science than those in older age groups. There is no type or category of people who can be described as “antiscience,” he said; rather, people have a range of opinions on particular issues.</p> <p>Several participants described novel approaches to communicating ideas about scientific subjects. In addition to Cowern, there was Grant Sanderson, who described a series of mathematics-based podcasts he produces, and Clifford Johnson, a professor of physics, who described his work developing graphical ways of depicting scientific concepts, which he has created in the form of comic books (or “graphical sequences”). His comics are based on dialogues about ideas, he said, which is “one of the oldest forms of communication.” Galileo’s findings, he pointed out, were written in this form.</p> <p>Another innovative approach to science communications was described by Beth Daley, editor and general manager of The Conversation US. She explained how that organization provides a way for scientists to communicate their work to the public, by helping them to write articles in a journalistic style, aimed at the general public, which are then distributed for use by newspapers around the country.</p> <p>This new approach has been quite effective, she said. A staff of about 30 people edits, fact-checks, and works with the scientists, helping them to write a popular piece “in their own voice.” To achieve that, she said, “they often need a lot of help in translating” their work into accessible language. The organization currently publishes about 10 news stories a day.</p> <p>In closing remarks, Ethan Zuckerman, director of the Media Lab’s Center for Civic Media, pointed out that despite an increasingly polarized society in which people are disagreeing even on the nature of facts, polls showing a relatively steady level of trust in science are encouraging. “I’m optimistic for the next generation,” he said.</p> A panel discussion featured Mariette DiChristina, dean of Boston University's College of Communication (center), and Charles Seife, professor of journalism at New York University, (right), and was moderated by Gideon Lichfield, editor-in-chief of MIT Technology Review (left).Image: David ChandlerSpecial events and guest speakers, MIT Press, Science writing, Technology and society, Media Lab The impatient pursuit of progress http://news.mit.edu/2019/impatient-pursuit-progress-patrick-collison-mit-1205 Patrick Collison returns to MIT to speak to students about the challenges and possibilities of entrepreneurship. Thu, 05 Dec 2019 14:45:01 -0500 Lori LoTurco | Zain Humayun | School of Engineering http://news.mit.edu/2019/impatient-pursuit-progress-patrick-collison-mit-1205 <p>With the Cambridge, Massachusetts, skyline visible behind him and before a room full of students, Patrick Collison asked for a show of hands. “Who’s here because you’re interested in starting a company at some point?” About half the room raised their hands. “And who’s interested in going and working at a technology company?” Some more hands went up. “And [those] just here for the free food?” The students laughed.&nbsp;</p> <p>On Nov. 14, the School of Engineering and the Sloan School of Management co-organized an event for students with Patrick Collison, CEO of internet payment company Stripe. Anantha Chandrakasan, dean of the School of Engineering and the Vannevar Bush Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, opened the event, appropriately entitled “The Impatient Pursuit of Progress,” by first introducing Collison, followed by the discussion’s moderator, Eric Grimson, MIT Chancellor for Academic Advancement and Bernard M. Gordon Professor of Medical Engineering.<br /> <br /> At the age of 16, Collison started at MIT to study math. Six months later, he left to start his first company, Auctomatic, with his brother John, who was attending Harvard University at that time. Auctomatic was acquired by LiveMedia in March 2008, after which Collison returned to MIT to pursue degrees in math and physics. After a year, he took a second leave of absence and co-founded Stripe with his brother John.</p> <p>Today, organizations of all sizes, from startups to public companies like Salesforce and Amazon, use Stripe's software to accept online payments. More than 80 percent of people across the country made a purchase using Stripe in the past year. As of September, Stripe was valued at $35 billion. In 2016, Collison and his brother John became the world’s youngest self-made billionaires.</p> <p>At the event, Collison spoke to many aspects of his journey, including the most important skills for students to develop, and the challenges of entrepreneurship.</p> <p>When a first-year sought advice on exploring her interests with confidence, Collison acknowledged the uncertainty inherent in the endeavor, but said he believed that it was important to focus on one’s own interests, rather than “following train tracks laid by others.”</p> <p>Throughout, Collison’s advice for students was marked by a combination of acuity and candor. One student asked Collison what he wished he’d done more of at MIT, and Collison said he would have liked to do more experimental work, expressing that it’s simpler to continue to study theory when you leave MIT, but more challenging and costly to experiment.</p> <p>In sharing a characterization of Collison’s work ethic, Grimson concluded the event by noting, “That’s what MIT is about — challenge, question, don’t be afraid to take some risks, and look broadly at what you’re doing, because you never know where that big opportunity is going to be.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Following the event, Chandrakasan expressed his enthusiasm in finding opportunities to share industry experience with students through events such as this, “We were thrilled to partner with MIT Sloan School of Management to jointly host this event, and to provide a forum for Patrick to share his experience with students who are interested in exploring the possibility of entrepreneurship.”&nbsp;</p> On Nov. 14, the School of Engineering and the Sloan School of Management co-organized an event for students with Patrick Collison (right), the CEO of internet payment company Stripe.Photo: Lillie Paquette/School of EngineeringSchool of Engineering, Sloan School of Management, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E), Special events and guest speakers, Startups, Business and management Technology and Policy Program launches Research to Policy Engagement Initiative http://news.mit.edu/2019/technology-policy-program-launches-research-policy-engagement-initiative-1205 Initiative will support efforts to inform policy with scientific research. Thu, 05 Dec 2019 14:25:01 -0500 Scott Murray | Institute for Data, Systems, and Society http://news.mit.edu/2019/technology-policy-program-launches-research-policy-engagement-initiative-1205 <p>The MIT <a href="http://tpp.mit.edu/" target="_blank">Technology and Policy Program</a> (TPP) has launched a new Research to Policy Engagement Initiative aimed at bridging knowledge to action on major societal challenges, and connecting policymakers, stakeholders, and researchers from diverse disciplines.</p> <p>“TPP’s Research to Policy Engagement Initiative has two complementary goals,” says TPP Director Noelle Eckley Selin, an associate professor of both <a href="https://eaps.mit.edu/">Earth, atmospheric, and planetary sciences</a> and the <a href="https://idss.mit.edu/">Institute for Data, Systems, and Society</a> (IDSS). “First, it aims to help bring scientific and technical knowledge to bear to inform solutions to complex policy problems, bridging the design and conduct of research at MIT with communities of practice. Second, it will create an intellectual community of researchers who can learn, apply, and contribute to developing best practices in bridging knowledge to action on societal challenges, across experiences in different research domains.”</p> <p>In addition to building community and holding events, the initiative supports the work of students and postdocs working at the intersection of technology and policy through fellowships and research assistantships. “Especially in cases like climate change, where technology already exists to solve the problem, I think the MIT community should be equipping its graduates with the rhetorical and political skills necessary to make a positive impact,” says Brandon Leshchinskiy, a TPP student supported by the initiative who is developing nonpartisan climate outreach materials for high schools.</p> <p>The initiative launched with a kickoff discussion, organized by IDSS postdoc Poushali Maji and Media Lab research scientist Katlyn Turner, called “Technology, Design and Policy for Equity.” The event focused on the societal implications of the design of technology, exploring the intersections of design, policy, and social equity, and drawing examples from domains like energy technology and artificial intelligence.</p> <p>“It’s exciting to be part of an initiative that can create a space for cross-disciplinary collaborations,” says Maji. “One of the aims of the initiative is to help us think through problem-solution systems more holistically, and go beyond a techno-centric approach.”</p> <p>The inaugural Research to Policy Engagement Initiative event was a robust discussion with researchers from different disciplines, covering topics including the disparity between the intent and impact of technologies and associated policies, and the ways in which inequities can often drive technology adoption patterns. “One key takeaway that surfaced,” says Maji, “is that societal challenges often need simple technological solutions, but involve complex challenges in other dimensions — logistical, institutional, and cultural.”</p> <p>“This first discussion drove home the importance of considering policy at the inception of research, rather than being forced to shape some kind of narrative retroactively,” says Nina Peluso, a TPP student who attended the event. “The event served as a great reminder of the many groups that confront policy issues at MIT every day.”</p> <p>The discussion included a presentation from Sidhant Pai, co-founder of Protoprint, an MIT IDEAS challenge-winning social enterprise that aims to empower waste pickers in India by making 3D printer filament out of collected waste plastic.</p> <p>The next Research to Policy Engagement Initiative discussion is planned for Friday, Dec. 6. Details on the initiative can be found on the <a href="https://tpp.mit.edu/research/research-to-policy-engagement-initiative/">TPP website</a>.</p> TPP student Nina Peluso shares discussion takeaways at the inaugural event for the Technology and Policy Program’s new Research to Policy Engagement Initiative.Photo: Barbara DeLaBarreIDSS, EAPS, Policy, Technology and society, Social sciences, Special events and guest speakers, Government, Data, School of Science, School of Engineering Paul McEuen delivers inaugural Dresselhaus Lecture on cell-sized robots http://news.mit.edu/2019/paul-mceuen-delivers-inaugural-dresselhaus-lecture-cell-sized-robots-1204 Cornell University professor and physicist uses nanoscale parts to create smart, active microbots. Wed, 04 Dec 2019 15:30:01 -0500 Amanda Stoll | MIT.nano http://news.mit.edu/2019/paul-mceuen-delivers-inaugural-dresselhaus-lecture-cell-sized-robots-1204 <p>Functional, intelligent robots the size of a single cell are within reach, said Cornell University Professor Paul McEuen at the inaugural Mildred S. Dresselhaus Lecture at MIT on Nov. 13.</p> <p>“To build a robot that is on the scale of 100 microns in size, and have it work, that’s a big dream,” said McEuen, the John A. Newman Professor of Physical Science at Cornell University and director of Kavli Institute at Cornell for Nanoscale Science. “One hundred microns is a very special size. It is the border between the visible and the invisible, or microscopic, world.”</p> <p>In a talk entitled “Cell-sized Sensors and Robots” in front of a large audience in MIT’s 10-250 lecture hall, McEuen introduced his concept for a new generation of machines that work at the microscale by combining microelectronics, solar cells, and light.&nbsp;The microbots, as he calls them, operate&nbsp;using optical wireless integrated circuits and&nbsp;surface electrochemical actuators.</p> <div class="cms-placeholder-content-video"></div> <p><strong>Kicking off the Dresselhaus Lectures</strong></p> <p>Inaugurated this year to honor MIT professor and physicist Mildred "Millie" Dresselhaus, the Dresselhaus Lecture recognizes a significant figure in science and engineering whose&nbsp;leadership and impact echo the late Institute Professor's life, accomplishments, and values. The lecture will be presented annually in November, the month of her birth.</p> <p>Dresselhaus spent over 50 years at MIT, where she was a professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (originally the Department of Electrical Engineering) as well as in the Department of Physics. She was MIT’s first female Institute Professor, co-organizer of the first MIT Women’s Forum, the first solo recipient of a Kavli Prize, and the first woman to win the National Medal of Science in the engineering category.</p> <p>Her research into the fundamental properties of carbon earned her the nickname the “Queen of Carbon Science.” She was also nationally known for her work to develop wider opportunities for women in science and engineering.</p> <p>“Millie was a physicist, a materials scientist, and an electrical engineer; an MIT professor, researcher, and doctoral supervisor; a prolific author; and a longtime leader in the scientific community,” said&nbsp;Asu Ozdaglar, current EECS department head, in her opening remarks. “Even in her final years, she was active in her field at MIT and in the department, attending EECS faculty meetings and playing an important role in developing the MIT.nano facility.”</p> <p><strong>Pushing the boundaries of physics</strong></p> <p>McEuen,&nbsp;who first met Dresselhaus when he attended graduate school at Yale University with her son, expressed what a privilege it was to celebrate Millie as the inaugural speaker. “When I think of my scientific heroes, it’s a very, very short list. And I think at the top of it would be Millie Dresselhaus.&nbsp;To be able to give this lecture in her honor means the world to me.”</p> <p>After earning his bachelor’s degree in engineering physics from the University of Oklahoma, McEuen continued his research at Yale University, where he completed his PhD in 1990 in applied physics. McEuen spent two years at MIT as a postdoc studying condensed matter physics, and then became a principal investigator at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He spent eight years teaching at the University of California at Berkeley before joining the faculty at Cornell as a professor in the physics department in 2001.</p> <p>“Paul is a pioneer for our generation, exploring the domain of atoms and molecules to push the frontier even further. It is no exaggeration to say that his discoveries and innovations will help define the Nano Age,” said Vladimir Bulović, the founding faculty director of MIT.nano and the&nbsp;Fariborz Maseeh (1990) Professor in Emerging Technology.</p> <p><strong>“</strong><strong>The world is our oyster”</strong></p> <p>McEuen joked at the beginning of his talk that speaking of technology measured in microns sounds “so 1950s” in today’s world, in which researchers can manipulate at the scale of nanometers. One micron — an abbreviation for micrometer — is one millionth of a meter; a nanometer is one billionth of a meter.</p> <p>“[But] if you want a micro robot, you need nanoscale parts. Just as the birth of the transistor gave rise to all the computational systems we have now,” he said, “the birth of simple, nanoscale mechanical and electronic elements is going to give birth to a robotics technology at the microscopic scale of less than 100 microns.”</p> <p>The motto of McEuen and his research group at Cornell is “anything, as long as it’s small.” This focus includes fundamentals of nanostructures, atomically-thin origami for metamaterials and micromachines, and microscale smart phones and optobots. McEuen emphasized the importance of borrowing from other fields, such as microelectronics technology, to build something new. Cornell researchers have used this technology to build an optical wireless integrated circuit (OWIC) — essentially a microscopic cellphone made of solar cells that power it and receive external information, a simple transistor circuit to serve as its brain, and a light-emitting diode to blink out data.</p> <p>Why make something so small? The first reason is cost; the second is its wide array of applications. Such tiny devices could measure voltage or temperature, making them useful for microfluidic experiments. In the future, they could be deployed&nbsp;as&nbsp;smart, secure tags for counterfeiting, invisible sensors for the internet of things, or used for neural interfacing to measure electrical activity in the brain.</p> <p>Adding a&nbsp;surface electrochemical actuator to these OWICs brings mechanical movement to McEuen’s microbots. By capping a very thin piece of platinum on one side and applying a voltage to the other, “we could make all kinds of cool things.”</p> <p>At the end of his talk, McEuen answered audience questions moderated by&nbsp;Bulović, such as how do the microbots communicate with one another and what is their functional lifespan. He closed&nbsp;with a final quote from Millie Dresselhaus: “Follow your interests, get the best available education and training, set your sights high, be persistent, be flexible, keep your options open, accept help when offered, and be prepared to help others.”</p> <p>Nominations for the 2020 Dresselhaus lecture can be submitted <a href="https://mitnano.mit.edu/dresselhaus-lecture" target="_blank">on MIT.nano’s website</a>. Any significant figure in science and engineering from anywhere in the world may be considered.</p> Cornell University’s Paul McEuen gives the inaugural Mildred S. Dresselhaus Lecture on cell-sized sensors and robots.Photo: Justin KnightMIT.nano, Electrical engineering and computer science (EECS), Physics, School of Engineering, School of Science, Nanoscience and nanotechnology, Special events and guest speakers, Faculty, Women in STEM, Carbon, Robots, Robotics, History of MIT Transformation by design http://news.mit.edu/2019/transformation-design-1127 Skylar Tibbits makes materials that water, heat, or mechanical forces can alter into new shapes. Wed, 27 Nov 2019 12:25:02 -0500 Denis Paiste | Materials Research Laboratory http://news.mit.edu/2019/transformation-design-1127 <p>Consider the range of possibilities from 4D printed materials that transform underwater, or fibers that snap into a particular shape when they are cut out of a flat panel, or coaxing shifting sands in the ocean into building artificial islands, and you will have some idea of the breadth of research that&nbsp;<a href="https://architecture.mit.edu/faculty/skylar-tibbits">Skylar Tibbits</a>, MIT associate professor of design research in the Department of Architecture, pursues.<br /> <br /> Tibbits’&nbsp;<a href="https://selfassemblylab.mit.edu/">Self-Assembly Lab</a>&nbsp;at MIT demonstrated, through studies in a water tank simulating ocean conditions, that specific geometries could generate self-organizing sand bars and beaches. To test this approach in the real world, the lab is currently conducting field experiments based on their lab work with a group called&nbsp;<a href="http://invena.co/">Invena</a>&nbsp;in the Maldives — a chain of islands, or atolls, in the Indian Ocean, many of which are at risk of erosion and, at worst, submersion from rising sea levels.</p> <p>Wind and waves naturally build up sand bars in the ocean environment and just as naturally sweep them away. The idea of the Maldives project is to harness the power of waves and their interaction with specifically placed underwater bladders to promote sand accumulation where it is most needed to protect shorefronts from flooding, rather than building land-based barriers that are inevitably worn away or overwhelmed.</p> <p>Sand alone may not ensure permanency to these “directed” islands, so the Self-Assembly Lab hopes to incorporate vegetation into future efforts, drawing on classic motifs of landscape engineering such as mangrove forests that anchor an ecosystem. “In the bladders underwater, you could seed them with vegetation to make them stay,” Tibbits said in a presentation to the MIT Industrial Liaison Program’s&nbsp;<a href="http://ilp.mit.edu/conference.jsp?confid=240&amp;tabname=agenda&amp;day=All">Research and Development Conference</a>&nbsp;on Nov. 13.</p> <p>Tibbits also discussed his collaborations on “4D printing,” objects that are formed by multi-material 3D printing but designed to transform over time, whether that transformation is activated by mechanical stress, water absorption, light exposure, or some other mechanism. One method to create adaptable materials is by pairing two different materials that expand or contract at different rates. In a collaboration with Stratasys and Autodesk, he designed a single strand of material that, as soon as it is immersed in water, folds itself into the letters M - I - T.</p> <p>Working with BMW, the Self-Assembly Lab designed&nbsp;<a href="https://vimeo.com/268770644">silicone cushion clusters</a>&nbsp;that are 3D-printed in liquid and can be inflated cell by cell, thus changing their overall shape, stiffness, or movement. This material could be the basis for more comfortable seating that adjusts to individual passengers.</p> <p>The Self-Assembly Lab is conducting active textile research in collaboration with&nbsp;<a href="https://www.ministryofsupply.com/">Ministry of Supply</a>, fiber extrusion specialty firm&nbsp;<a href="http://hillsinc.net/">Hills Inc.</a>, the University of Maine, and Iowa State University. So far, the group has produced sweater yarns that can be heated to conform to an individual wearer’s body shape, with a long-term goal of producing climate-adaptive textiles. This work is partly funded by <a href="http://go.affoa.org/">Advanced Functional Fabrics of America</a>, and that portion of the research is administered through the Materials Research Laboratory.</p> <p>The Self-Assembly Lab also developed a method to 3D-print liquid metal into powder that creates fully formed parts that can be lifted out of the powder. The parts are made of a material that can be re-melted to form new parts.</p> <p>Using carbon-based materials in a project for Airbus, the Self-Assembly Lab developed thin blades that can fold and curl by themselves to control the airflow to the engine. The “programmable” carbon work was carried out with Carbitex LLC, Autodesk, and MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms.</p> <p>For a chair project with Biesse and Wood-Skin, the Self-Assembly Lab designed a small table that marries 3D-printed wood fiber panels and pre-stressed textiles. The table can be shipped flat, then jump into several different arrangements because of the flexibility of the textile.</p> <p>By 3D-printing a stiffer material in a circular pattern onto a flat mesh, for example, the researchers showed that cutting out the circle from the flat plane causes it to snap into a hyperbolic parabola shape. The researchers include MIT computer science Professor Erik Demaine; Christophe Guberan, a visiting product designer from Switzerland; and David Costanza MA ’13, SM ’15.</p> <p>Tibbits worked with Steelcase to develop a process for 3D printing plastic into liquid for furniture parts, called rapid liquid printing. This process prints within a gel bath to provide support for the printed parts and minimize the effect of gravity. With this printing technique they can print centimeter- to meter-scale parts in minutes to hours with a range of high-quality industrial materials like silicone rubber, polyurethane, and acrylics.</p> <p>The common theme across all these different projects is Tibbits’ belief that the future of industrial production lies in the transformative power of harnessing smart, programmable materials. “We want to think about what’s coming next and see if we can really lead that,” Tibbits says.</p> The Maldives, a chain of islands in the Indian Ocean, are at risk of erosion and, at worst, submersion from rising sea levels. MIT's Skylar Tibbits is conducting field experiments with a group called Invena in the Maldives to harness the power of waves with underwater bladders to promote sand accumulation where it is most needed to protect shorelines from flooding.Photo: Denis Paiste/Materials Research LaboratoryMaterials Research Laboratory, Architecture, Center for Bits and Atoms, 3-D printing, 4-D printing, Self-assembly, Faculty, Special events and guest speakers, School of Architecture and Planning Smart systems for semiconductor manufacturing http://news.mit.edu/2019/smart-systems-semiconductor-manufacturing-1125 Lam Research Tech Symposium, co-hosted by MIT.nano and Microsystems Technology Lab, explores challenges, opportunities for the future of the industry. Mon, 25 Nov 2019 12:55:01 -0500 Amanda Stoll | MIT.nano http://news.mit.edu/2019/smart-systems-semiconductor-manufacturing-1125 <p>Integrating smart systems into manufacturing offers the potential to transform many industries.&nbsp;Lam Research, a founding member of the MIT.nano Consortium and a longtime member of the Microsystems Technology Lab (MTL) Microsystems Industrial Group, explored the challenges and opportunities smart systems bring to the semiconductor industry at its annual technical symposium, held at MIT in October.</p> <p>Co-hosted by MIT.nano and the MTL, the two-day event brought together Lam’s global technical staff, academic collaborators, and industry leaders with MIT faculty, students, and researchers to focus on software and hardware needed for smart manufacturing and process controls.</p> <p>Tim Archer, president and CEO of Lam Research, kicked off the first day, noting that “the semiconductor industry is more impactful to people's lives than ever before."&nbsp;</p> <p>“We stand at an innovation inflection point where smart systems will transform the way we work and live,” says Rick Gottscho, executive vice president and chief technology officer of Lam Research. “The event inspires us to make the impossible possible, through learning about exciting research opportunities that drive innovation, fostering collaboration between industry and academia to discover best-in-class solutions together, and engaging researchers and students in our industry. For all of us to realize the opportunities of smart systems, we have to embrace challenges, disrupt conventions, and collaborate.”</p> <p>The symposium featured speakers from MIT and Lam Research, as well as the University of California at Berkeley, Tsinghua University in Beijing, Stanford University, Winbond Electronics Corporation, Harting Technology Group, and GlobalFoundries, among others. Professors, corporate leaders, and MIT students came together over discussions of machine learning, micro- and nanofabrication, big data — and how it all relates to the semiconductor industry.</p> <p>“The most effective way to deliver innovative and&nbsp;lasting&nbsp;solutions is to combine our skills with others, working here on the MIT campus and beyond,” says Vladimir Bulović, faculty director of MIT.nano and the&nbsp;Fariborz Maseeh Chair in&nbsp;Emerging Technology. “The strength of this event was not only the fantastic mix&nbsp;of expertise and&nbsp;perspectives convened by Lam and MIT, but also the variety of&nbsp;opportunities it created for networking and connection.”</p> <p>Tung-Yi Chan, president of Winbond Electronics, a specialty memory integrated circuit company, set the stage on day one with his opening keynote, “Be a ‘Hidden Champion’ in the Fast-Changing Semiconductor Industry.” The second day’s keynote, given by&nbsp;Ron Sampson, senior vice president and general manager of US Fab Operations at GlobalFoundries, continued the momentum, addressing the concept that smart manufacturing is key to the future for semiconductors.</p> <p>“We all marvel at the seemingly superhuman capabilities that AI systems have recently demonstrated in areas of image classification, natural language processing, and autonomous navigation,” says Jesús del Alamo, professor of electrical engineering and computer science and former faculty director of MTL. “The symposium discussed the potential for smart tools to transform semiconductor manufacturing. This is a terrific topic for exploration in collaboration between semiconductor equipment makers and universities.”</p> <p>A series of plenary talks took place over the course of the symposium:</p> <ul> <li>“Equipment Intelligence: Fact or Fiction” – Rick Gottscho, executive vice president and chief technology officer at Lam Research</li> <li>“Machine Learning for Manufacturing: Opportunities and Challenges”&nbsp;– Duane Boning, the Clarence J. LeBel Professor in Electrical Engineering at MIT</li> <li>“Learning-based Diagnosis and Control for Nonequilibrium Plasmas”&nbsp;– Ali Mesbah, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of California at Berkeley</li> <li>“Reconfigurable Computing and AI Chips”<em>&nbsp;</em>– Shouyi Yin, professor and vice director of the Institute of Microelectronics at Tsinghua University</li> <li>“Moore’s Law Meets Industry 4.0”&nbsp;– Costas Spanos, professor at UC Berkeley</li> <li>“Monitoring Microfabrication Equipment and Processes Enabled by Machine Learning and Non-contacting Utility Voltage and Current Measurements”&nbsp;– Jeffrey H. Lang, the Vitesse Professor of Electrical Engineering at MIT, and Vivek R. Dave, director of technology at Harting, Inc. of North America</li> <li>“Big and Streaming Data in the Smart Factory”&nbsp;– Brian Anthony, associate director of MIT.nano and principal research scientist in the Institute of Medical Engineering and Sciences (IMES) and the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT</li> </ul> <p>Both days also included panel discussions. The first featured leaders in global development of smarter semiconductors: Tim Archer of Lam Research; Anantha Chandrakasan of MIT; Tung-Yi Chan of Winbond; Ron Sampson of GlobalFoundries; and Shaojun Wei of Tsinghua University. The second panel brought together faculty to talk about “graduating to smart systems”: Anette “Peko” Hosoi of MIT; Krishna Saraswat of Stanford University; Huaqiang Wu of Tsinghua University; and Costas Spanos of UC Berkeley.</p> <p>Opportunities specifically for startups and students to interact with industry and academic leaders capped off each day of the symposium. Eleven companies competed in a startup pitch session at the end of the first day, nine of which are associated with the MIT Startup Exchange — a program that promotes collaboration&nbsp;between MIT-connected startups and industry.&nbsp;Secure AI Labs, whose work focuses on easier data sharing while preserving data privacy, was deemed the winner by a panel of six venture capitalists. The startup received a convertible note investment provided by Lam Capital.&nbsp;HyperLight, a silicon photonics startup, and&nbsp;Southie Autonomy, a robotics startup, received honorable mentions, coming in second and third place, respectively.</p> <p>Day two concluded with a student poster session. Graduate students from MIT and Tsinghua University delivered 90-second pitches about their cutting-edge research in the areas of materials and devices, manufacturing and processing, and machine learning and modeling. The winner of the lightning pitch session was MIT’s Christian Lau for his work on a modern&nbsp;microprocessor built from complementary carbon nanotube transistors.</p> <p>The Lam Research Technical Symposium takes place annually and rotates locations between academic collaborators, MIT, Stanford University, Tsinghua University, UC Berkeley, and Lam’s headquarters in Fremont, California. The 2020 symposium will be held at UC Berkeley next fall.</p> The 2019 Lam Research Tech Symposium brought together Lam’s global technical staff, academic collaborators, and industry leaders with MIT faculty, students, and researchers for a two-day event on smart systems for semiconductor manufacturing.Photo: Lam ResearchMIT.nano, Manufacturing, Nanoscience and nanotechnology, Industry, Data, Computer science and technology, Electrical engineering and computer science (EECS), electronics, School of Engineering, Special events and guest speakers MIT conference focuses on preparing workers for the era of artificial intelligence http://news.mit.edu/2019/ai-work-future-congress-1122 As automation rises in the workplace, speakers explore ways to train students and reskill workers. Fri, 22 Nov 2019 16:35:55 -0500 Rob Matheson | MIT News Office http://news.mit.edu/2019/ai-work-future-congress-1122 <p>In opening yesterday’s AI and the Work of the Future Congress, MIT Professor Daniela Rus presented diverging views of how artificial intelligence will impact jobs worldwide.</p> <p>By automating certain menial tasks, experts think AI is poised to improve human quality of life, boost profits, and create jobs, said Rus, director of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.</p> <p>Rus then quoted a World Economic Forum study estimating AI could help create 133 million new jobs worldwide over the next five years. Juxtaposing this optimistic view, however, she noted a recent survey that found about two-thirds of Americans believe machines will soon rob humans of their careers. “So, who is right? The economists, who predict greater productivity and new jobs? The technologists, who dream of creating better lives? Or the factory line workers who worry about unemployment?” Rus asked. “The answer is, probably all of them.”</p> <p>Her remarks kicked off an all-day conference in Kresge Auditorium that convened experts from industry and academia for panel discussions and informal talks about preparing humans of all ages and backgrounds for a future of AI automation in the workplace. The event was co-sponsored by CSAIL, the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy (IDE), and the MIT Work of the Future Task Force, an Institute-wide effort launched in 2018 that aims to understand and shape the evolution of jobs during an age of innovation.</p> <p>Presenters were billed as “leaders and visionaries” rigorously measuring technological impact on enterprise, government, and society, and generating solutions. Apart from Rus, who also moderated a panel on dispelling AI myths, speakers included Chief Technology Officer of the United States Michael Kratsios; executives from Amazon, Nissan, Liberty Mutual, IBM, Ford, and Adobe; venture capitalists and tech entrepreneurs; representatives of nonprofits and colleges; journalists who cover AI issues; and several MIT professors and researchers.</p> <p>Rus, a self-described “technology optimist,” drove home a point that echoed throughout all discussions of the day: AI doesn’t automate jobs<em>,&nbsp;</em>it automates tasks. Rus quoted a recent McKinsey Global Institute study that estimated 45 percent of tasks that humans are paid to do can now be automated. But, she said, humans can adapt to work in concert with AI —&nbsp;meaning job tasks may change dramatically, but jobs may not disappear entirely. “If we make the right choices and the right investments, we can ensure that those benefits get distributed widely across our workforce and our planet,” Rus said.</p> <p><strong>Avoiding the “job-pocalypse”</strong></p> <p>Common topics throughout the day included reskilling veteran employees to use AI technologies; investing heavily in training young students in AI through tech apprenticeships, vocational programs, and other education initiatives; ensuring workers can make livable incomes; and promoting greater inclusivity in tech-based careers. The hope is to avoid, as one speaker put it, a “job-pocalypse,” where most humans will lose their jobs to machines.</p> <p>A panel moderated by David Mindell, the Dibner Professor of the History of Engineering and Manufacturing and a professor of aeronautics and astronautics, focused on how AI technologies are changing workflow and skills, especially within sectors resistant to change. Mindell asked panelists for specific examples of implementing AI technologies into their companies.</p> <p>In response, David Johnson, vice president of production and engineering at Nissan, shared an anecdote about pairing an MIT student with a 20-year employee in developing AI methods to autonomously predict car-part quality. In the end, the veteran employee became immersed in the technology and is now using his seasoned expertise to deploy it in other areas, while the student learned more about the technology’s real-world applications. “Only through this synergy, when you purposely pair these people with a common goal, can you really drive the skills forward … for mass new technology adoption and deployment,” Johnson said.</p> <p>In a panel about shaping public policies to ensure technology benefits society — which included U.S. CTO Kratsios — moderator Erik Brynjolfsson, director of IDE and a professor in the MIT Sloan School of Management, got straight to the point: “People have been dancing around this question: Will AI destroy jobs?”</p> <p>“Yes, it will — but not to the extent that people presume,” replied MIT Institute Professor Daron Acemoglu. AI, he said, will mostly automate mundane operations in white-collar jobs, which will free up humans to refine their creative, interpersonal, and other high-level skills for new roles. Humans, he noted, also won’t be stuck doing low-paying jobs, such as labeling data for machine-learning algorithms.</p> <p>“That’s not the future of work,” he said. “The hope is we use our amazing creativity and all these wonderful and technological platforms to create meaningful jobs in which humans can use their flexibility, creativity, and all the things … machines won’t be able to do — at least in the next 100 years.”</p> <p>Kratsios emphasized a need for public and private sectors to collaborate to reskill workers. Specifically, he pointed to the Pledge to the America’s Worker, the federal initiative that now has 370 U.S. companies committed to retraining roughly 4 million American workers for tech-based jobs over the next five years.</p> <p>Responding to an audience question about potential public policy changes, Kratsios echoed sentiments of many panelists, saying education policy should focus on all levels of education, not just college degrees. “A vast majority of our policies, and most of our departments and agencies, are targeted toward coaxing people toward a four-year degree,” Kratsios said. “There are incredible opportunities for Americans to live and work and do fantastic jobs that don’t require four-year degrees. So, [a change is] thinking about using the same pool of resources to reskill, or retrain, or [help students] go to vocational schools.”</p> <p><strong>Inclusivity and underserved populations</strong></p> <p>Entrepreneurs at the event explained how AI can help create diverse workforces. For instance, a panel about creating economically and geographically diverse workforces, moderated by Devin Cook, executive producer of IDE’s Inclusive Innovation Challenge, included Radha Basu, who founded Hewlett Packard’s operations in India in the 1970s. In 2012, Basu founded iMerit, which hires employees — half are young women and more than 80 percent come from underserved populations —&nbsp;to provide AI services for computer vision, machine learning, and other applications.</p> <p>A panel hosted by Paul Osterman, co-director of the MIT Sloan Institute for Work and Employment Research and an MIT Sloan professor, explored how labor markets are changing in the face of technological innovations. Panelist Jacob Hsu is CEO of Catalyte, which uses an AI-powered assessment test to predict a candidate’s ability to succeed as a software engineer, and hires and trains those who are most successful. Many of their employees don’t have four-year degrees, and their ages range from anywhere from 17 to 72.</p> <p>A “media spotlight” session, in which journalists discussed their reporting on the impact of AI on the workplace and the world, included David Fanning, founder and producer of the investigative documentary series FRONTLINE, which recently ran a documentary titled “In the Era of AI.” Fanning briefly discussed how, during his investigations, he learned about the profound effect AI is having on workplaces in the developing world, which rely heavily on manual labor, such as manufacturing lines.</p> <p>“What happens as automation expands, the manufacturing ladder that was opened to people in developing countries to work their way out of rural poverty — all that manufacturing gets replaced by machines,” Fanning said. “Will we end up across the world with people who have nowhere to go? Will they become the new economic migrants we have to deal with in the age of AI?”</p> <p><strong>Education: The great counterbalance</strong></p> <p>Elisabeth Reynolds, executive director for the MIT Task Force on the Work of the Future and of the MIT Industrial Performance Center, and Andrew McAfee, co-director of IDE and a principal research scientist at the MIT Sloan School of Management, closed out the conference and discussed next steps.</p> <p>Reynolds said the MIT Task Force on the Work of the Future, over the next year, will further study how AI is being adopted, diffused, and implemented across the U.S., as well as issues of race and gender bias in AI. In closing, she charged the audience with helping tackle the issues: “I would challenge everybody here to say, ‘What on Monday morning is [our] organization doing in respect to this agenda?’”&nbsp;</p> <p>In paraphrasing economist Robert Gordon, McAfee reemphasized the shifting nature of jobs in the era of AI: “We don’t have a job quantity problem, we have a job quality problem.”</p> <p>AI may generate more jobs and company profits, but it may also have numerous negative effects on employees. Proper education and training are keys to ensuring the future workforce is paid well and enjoys a high quality of life, he said: “Tech progress, we’ve known for a long time, is an engine of inequality. The great counterbalancing force is education.”</p> Daniela Rus (far right), director of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), moderated a panel on dispelling the myths of AI technologies in the workplace. The AI and the Work of the Future Congress was co-organized by CSAIL, the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, and the MIT Work of the Future Task Force.Image: Andrew KubicaResearch, Computer science and technology, Algorithms, Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), Sloan School of Management, Technology and society, Jobs, Economics, Policy, Artificial intelligence, Machine learning, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E), Business and management, Manufacturing, Careers, Special events and guest speakers Pop-up pop quiz bowl http://news.mit.edu/2019/pop-up-mit-science-bowl-invitational-1122 More than 100 high school students compete at the inaugural MIT Science Bowl Invitational, hosted by students and sponsored by the School of Science. Fri, 22 Nov 2019 12:10:01 -0500 Fernanda Ferreira | School of Science http://news.mit.edu/2019/pop-up-mit-science-bowl-invitational-1122 <p>Teams from 23 schools gathered at MIT on Nov. 16 to compete in the first-ever MIT Science Bowl Invitational — an informal, fast-paced quiz-style event for high school students. Six weeks earlier, the event was just an inkling in the minds of the MIT students who organized the event.</p> <p>“Normally, what we run is an official regional competition for middle schoolers that usually happens in the spring,” explains Paolo Adajar, a junior in mathematical economics at MIT who participated in Science Bowl competitions during both middle school and high school. At the regional event, founded by MIT alumna Kathleen Schwind SM '19, schools in the northeast come to MIT to compete and win a coveted spot at the annual National Science Bowl competition, hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy. “But what we’re doing this year is running an unofficial invitational during the fall for high school students,” says Adajar, the president of MIT Science Bowl, who spent the day zipping around campus on a scooter to make sure the event was running smoothly.</p> <p>The invitational was open to all schools in the country, with teams coming from around the northeast and as far away as Georgia. For the students, this was an opportunity to interact with other Science Bowl teams in a more fun, less stressful environment. It also allowed teams, many of which are full of first-years and sophomores, a chance to get their feet wet and to figure out their strategies for answering questions at the regional events.</p> <p>“I noticed that our kids are more cautious, they want to hear the whole question,” says David Reeder, a physics, geology, and chemistry teacher at Northfield Mount Hermon in northwest Massachusetts. Other teams had a different approach when it came to buzzing in. “It’s a very young team, and maybe a little too aggressive with the buzzer,” says Nick Van Dusen, a parent accompanying the team from West Windsor-Plainsboro, New Jersey.</p> <p>The morning rounds were round-robin style, with the 23 teams divided into five groups and competing against each other in 16-minute sessions. Each round consisted of a series of questions about biology, chemistry, physics, math, energy, and Earth sciences. Correctly answered questions gave the team four points and the chance to answer a more complicated bonus question. Rooms were filled with the sound of buzzers and rapidly rising scores. After a lunch of pizza and donuts in the Memorial Lobby of Building 10, the top two teams from each group proceeded to the double elimination rounds in the afternoon.</p> <p>In the end, the Westminster Schools from Georgia and Lexington High School from Massachusetts were the two teams competing in the final round. In an auditorium where the final match was held, gasps could be heard from the crowd that was amazed at how quickly the two teams destroyed the final set of questions — with Westminster Schools the winner.</p> <p><a href="https://science.osti.gov/wdts/nsb/Regional-Competitions/Resources/HS-Sample-Questions">Science Bowl questions</a> are created by the U.S. Department of Energy and carefully guarded; for weeks after receiving them, Adajar kept them in a bright orange suitcase that he jokingly referred to as the nuclear football.</p> <p>The invitational was also a practice run for the current crew of MIT students who oversee the annual middle-school Science Bowl at MIT, which is sponsored by the School of Science. Adajar hopes that, in the process of running the invitational, they’ll become more prepared for the regional event scheduled for spring 2020. Many of the club’s members graduated last year, and earlier this year the current members brainstormed how they wanted to run Science Bowl moving forward. The potential for an MIT Science Bowl Invitational came up, although the timeline of six weeks seemed tight. “It was a lot of frantic phone calls to see if we could get buzzers, get rooms, get approvals,” remembers Adajar. “Once we realized we could make it work, we said, why not?”</p> Organizers of the inaugural MIT Science Bowl Invitational held Nov. 16Photo: Alborz BejnoodStudents, K-12 education, STEM education, Special events and guest speakers, Contests and academic competitions, School of Science, School of Humanities Arts and Social Sciences Forum addresses future of civil and environmental engineering education http://news.mit.edu/2019/forum-addresses-future-civil-environmental-engineering-education-1122 Academic leaders cite urgent need to expand, enhance curriculum to address societal challenges. Fri, 22 Nov 2019 11:50:55 -0500 Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering http://news.mit.edu/2019/forum-addresses-future-civil-environmental-engineering-education-1122 <p>Battling climate change and adapting communities to be ready for its effects on the world. Ensuring food and water security for an exploding population. Navigating ever-more congested urban landscapes.</p> <p>These global concerns and others have been outlined by the National Academies and other institutions as imminent threats. One discipline in particular — civil and environmental engineering — has the history and capability to address these challenges on a large scale.</p> <p>MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) took one of the first steps to address the question on how best to prepare a new generation of civil and environmental engineers by organizing a recent one-day workshop, entitled “CEE Education Frontiers Forum,” with invited leaders and educators from 10 leading U.S. institutions, including Stanford University, the University of California at Berkeley, Georgia Tech, and the University of Texas at Austin.</p> <p>“The discipline of CEE is really at the cusp of a lot of things,” says Saurabh Amin, associate professor and undergraduate officer of CEE at MIT and one of the organizers of the event. “This exceptional group of universities is already addressing today’s challenges, but the field is changing so quickly that our educational efforts need to stay ahead of what we see CEE in need of.” &nbsp;</p> <p>During her plenary talk, Anette “Peko” Hosoi, associate dean of engineering and professor of mechanical engineering at MIT, said that it’s not uncommon for engineering curricula to change over time. Each time the curriculum was revised, it was informed by the needs and constraints of that specific period of time, which drove the educational goals forward. Hosoi shared an historical survey of MIT engineering education which showed an overhauled curriculum approximately every 25 years to adjust to the needs of the day. From learning to design iron bridges in 1875 to electrifying the countryside in 1925, “the curriculum was turning over at a fairly rapid timescale,” she said.</p> <p>“A lot of students come in wanting to change the world,” says Markus J. Buehler, department head of MIT CEE, the Jerry McAfee (1940) Professor in Engineering, and a forum co-organizer. “They want to address climate change, they want to address transportation, they want to address pollution. CEE offers a clear pathway through today’s curriculum to make contributions in these fields, and the workshop fostered discussion into how we can further strengthen our program and provide our students even better skills for their careers after graduation.”</p> <p>The workshop consisted of two plenary talks, four panel discussions, and a lunch session, all focused on how to make sure CEE students understand and are well-prepared for their post-graduate opportunities, now and into the future. Two subjects addressed throughout the day were the value of an interdisciplinary education and an increased need for excellent interpersonal skills to prepare students for the real world.</p> <p>As the need for a sustainable future becomes urgent, the required skillset of CEE graduates has also broadened. These skills include foundational knowledge in emerging fields such as computing and machine learning, as well as social responsibility and ethics, and leadership. For example, a well-trained civil or environmental engineer should be able to help design new solutions to make a city capable of withstanding rising sea levels associated with a changed climate, or create sustainable food, water, and energy supply chains. In an increasingly digitized world, speakers pointed out that CEE students should be able to incorporate key concepts such as data analytics and applications of artificial intelligence into their solutions.</p> <p>“Civil and environmental engineers are defined by our applications … not our tools,” said Mark Stacey, department chair of CEE at UC Berkeley, during the panel on CEE Domains and Interdisciplinary Frontiers. “We bring tools from wherever they emerge.”</p> <p>MIT’s CEE education is built around three central tenants: rigorous core knowledge of the science behind the discipline, fieldwork that allows students to gain insights into real-world problems, and labs designed to have students synthesize the knowledge and skills they have developed over their other coursework.</p> <p>“Our curriculum is agile and designed to be adaptive to the needs of students and help them address these grand challenges,” says Amin. “The hope is that as new problems and areas of study arise, our students will be able to tackle whatever area they are interested in. We help students to tailor their coursework based on their individual goals and aspirations. This workshop identified some of the hurdles that may be coming and will help us in preparing for them.”</p> <p>Nearly all in attendance agreed that the first year of a CEE curriculum was critical to demonstrate to students the possibilities of a future in the profession. One suggestion involved adding experience-based lab work during the first semester to engage students with the field from the get-go.</p> <p>A similar educational reform is already underway at MIT through the Designing the First Year Experience initiative, headed by Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate and Graduate Education Ian Waitz. Waitz acknowledged the difficulty in changing a curriculum that has been in place for decades, but recognized the importance of addressing the educational and social needs of a changing student body.</p> <p>“It’s not rocket science,” said Waitz during his talk. “It’s harder than that — it’s people science.”</p> <p>For example, starting this year MIT CEE began offering new discovery subjects focusing on sustainable cities and climate change for first-year students. The goal is to bring these students into the discussions of grand challenges early on and equip them to make informed choices during their stay at MIT, and beyond.</p> <p>A number of speakers also mentioned throughout the day that civil and environmental engineers are frequently at the center of civic problem-solving. They must be able to engage with the public, government officials, and engineers and scientists of other backgrounds. Any new curriculum should foster the ability to connect with people of different backgrounds to strengthen leadership skills. Panels on post-grad research opportunities by representatives from the National Science Foundation enforced this point.</p> <p>Participants agreed the workshop was successful in moving the CEE education conversation forward.</p> <p>“What we tried to do was … answer questions about what the CEE degree of the future would be,” says Desiree Plata, assistant professor in CEE at MIT and an event co-organizer. “[We] saw a lot of different opinions about that today, so that's great for idea generation. I think there's still a lot of work that needs to be done in terms of how to do it.”</p> <p>The organizers plan to release a document summarizing the key points from the workshop to act as a jumping-off point for the next round of talks, and will seek further input from students and alumni.</p> <p>“The next conversation should not start from scratch,” says Amin. “People will have their own hurdles at their own universities, but we believe that now is right time to lead this change.”</p> Forum participants engage in a discussion to advance CEE curriculum fundamentals. (Left to right:) Donald Webster of Georgia Tech, David Rosowsky of the University of Vermont, Julie Zimmerman of Yale University, and Robert Gilbert of the University of Texas at Austin.Photo: Maria IacoboCivil and environmental engineering, School of Engineering, Leadership, Education, teaching, academics, Environment, Special events and guest speakers MIT AgeLab and Transamerica symposium spotlights the growing challenge of caregiving in the US http://news.mit.edu/2019/mit-agelab-transamerica-symposium-growing-challenge-of-caregiving-1121 The event highlighted caregiving both as a rising economic challenge and as an opportunity for businesses to meet new demands for knowledge and services. Thu, 21 Nov 2019 15:10:01 -0500 Adam Felts | MIT AgeLab http://news.mit.edu/2019/mit-agelab-transamerica-symposium-growing-challenge-of-caregiving-1121 <p>The MIT AgeLab and Transamerica shed light on the challenges and costs of caregiving in the United States during a daylong symposium held Nov. 12 on the MIT campus. The meeting, titled "New Conversations for a New Challenge: Caregiving in the 21st Century," brought together experts and professionals from academia, medicine, and financial planning to discuss costs, challenges, technologies, and ideas related to caregiving.</p> <p>An estimated 77 million people in the United States are current or former caregivers. As the baby boomer generation ages, caregiving is expected to become even more common, with an accompanying increase in caregiving costs. A RAND Corporation study found that caregivers spend $522 billion and provide 30 billion hours of care annually to older adults. Caregiving also takes a toll on U.S. businesses, including $33.6 billion in lost productivity — an average cost of $2,110 to employers per full-time working caregiver.</p> <p>The symposium coincides with National Family Caregivers Month, which occurs every November. National Family Caregivers Month aims to recognize the millions of Americans across the nation who care for family members who are chronically ill, elderly, or who have a disability.</p> <p>“Rising costs and a growing need for caregivers are changing the ways we think about long-term financial stability,” says Bill Lloyd, Transamerica’s health director. “Those in the financial industry need the tools to help people find the best path forward, and Transamerica is honored to host a forum for this important discussion.”</p> <p>The symposium focused on three developments around family caregiving in the 21st century:&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li> <p>Caregiving is becoming a more common experience;&nbsp;</p> </li> <li> <p>Caregiving is becoming more costly, with new products and services being developed to address the increased demand for assistance with tasks related to providing care; and</p> </li> <li> <p>Caregiving will demand new conversations with financial professionals and employers to help families, caregivers, and care recipients through the process.</p> </li> </ul> <p>AgeLab, in collaboration with Transamerica, has developed a national caregiver panel to study the personal impact of caregiving on a broad range of individuals who provide care. Data collected between March and September 2019 show that just under half (40.3 percent) of participants reported that providing care has hurt their work life. Caregivers helping with at least one basic activity of daily living (such as bathing, dressing, or eating) were more likely to report this adverse effect (47.1 percent). Data indicated that income and financial strain were significantly correlated. Participants with lower household incomes reported more considerable financial pressure than those with higher incomes.</p> <p>“Providing care is both an increasingly common and costly task, but it is something that is rarely discussed outside of our most intimate relationships,” says Joseph Coughlin, director of AgeLab. “Having the right conversations about the full range of caregiving, from daily assistance at home to transportation, can go a long way toward being prepared for life tomorrow. The AgeLab is pleased to be collaborating with Transamerica to better understand the financial implications of caregiving in the 21st century.”</p> MIT AgeLab Director Joseph Coughlin (right) and Transamerica’s Brian Forbes provide remarks at a daylong MIT symposium on caregiving.Photo: Lexi Balmuth/AgeLabAgeLab, Center for Transportation and Logistics, Aging, Special events and guest speakers Collaborating for MIT’s Future poster session offers lively venue to learn about campus initiatives http://news.mit.edu/2019/collaborating-mit-future-poster-session-offers-venue-learn-about-campus-initiatives-1113 Co-sponsored by EVP Connect and the Administrative Advisory Council II, the sixth annual poster session brought together colleagues from across MIT. Wed, 13 Nov 2019 13:15:01 -0500 Robyn Fizz | EVP Connect http://news.mit.edu/2019/collaborating-mit-future-poster-session-offers-venue-learn-about-campus-initiatives-1113 <p>What if you could take the pulse of projects at MIT that benefit the community? The annual “Collaborating for MIT’s Future” poster session once again provided that opportunity. Held on Oct. 25 on the top floor of the Media Lab, the event featured 55 posters and 132 presenters from 40 MIT departments, offices, and groups. Nearly 400 attendees came to catch up with colleagues and find out about forward-looking projects.</p> <p>This year’s session covered everything from K-12 collaborations to the Hive sustainability garden to the MIT Activities Committee, celebrating its 35th year. Following are a few noteworthy projects that many in the community are likely to benefit from.<br /> <br /> <strong>Urgent Care’s wait-time software</strong></p> <p>MIT Medical highlighted an app called Clockwise that&nbsp;<a href="https://medical.mit.edu/services/urgent-care?urgent_care=open#overview">Urgent Care</a>&nbsp;launched in April. It lets you&nbsp;<a href="https://medical.mit.edu/services/urgent-care?urgent_care=open">put your name into the queue</a>&nbsp;before you arrive. Or you can use it to sign in at the kiosk in the lobby of MIT Medical; you are informed of your wait time and, if it’s too long, you can see the triage nurse and then leave and return at a more convenient time. Clockwise will hold your spot and send you a text 20 minutes before your appointment.</p> <p>Many community members are already using this service, which has led to 30 percent shorter wait times for those who book appointments with Urgent Care online.</p> <p><strong>Well Connection Telehealth</strong></p> <p>On Jan. 1, 2020,&nbsp;MIT Benefits&nbsp;will deploy a new telehealth benefit for employees on the MIT Health Plans (Traditional, Choice, or High Deductible). Through Blue Cross Blue Shield&nbsp;<a href="https://hr.mit.edu/benefits/health/wellconnection">Well Connection Telehealth</a>, MIT community members be able to make live video visits 24/7 with board-certified physicians or licensed clinicians for minor medical and behavioral health services. Access is via smartphone, computer, or tablet and wait times are 5-10 minutes, on average.</p> <p>The physicians, who are all in the Blue Cross Blue Shield network, can recommend treatment&nbsp;for a variety of medical conditions, such as colds and sinus infections, and can send&nbsp;prescriptions to your local pharmacy.&nbsp;Well Connection Telehealth can also be used for behavioral health services (e.g., for&nbsp;depression and anxiety, sleep disorders, stress). The telehealth benefit will have a $0 copay for employees enrolled in one of MIT’s health plans.</p> <p><strong>Powering MIT into the future</strong></p> <p>MIT Facilities is <a href="https://powering.mit.edu/">upgrading its Central Utilities Plant</a> on Albany Street (Building 42C) in a big way. As the plant’s natural gas turbine is approaching end-of-life, the Department of Facilities has initiated a project to replace this turbine and add a second one; both turbines will also have heat recovery steam generators. This high-efficiency cogeneration process uses one fuel (natural gas) to produce two types of energy (electric and thermal). The new plant will generate most of MIT’s electricity needs, while significantly decreasing its carbon output and greenhouse gas emissions.</p> <p>Upgrades at the plant will help MIT lower emissions, improve campus resiliency and sustainability, and create a more flexible power system for incorporating future innovations. The production floor, which houses all the critical equipment for the plant, is four feet above the Cambridge flood plain. There will also be backup fuel on site, so if the natural gas line gets interrupted, MIT can switch over immediately to emergency fuel and not lose power. A state-of-the-art control system will enable powering through a utility blackout.</p> <p>The upgraded plant should be up and running by fall 2020.</p> <p><strong>Reimagining the MIT ID card</strong></p> <p>Today, all members of the community have a plastic ID card that’s used for a range of things, from gaining access to parking lots and buildings, to checking books out of the MIT libraries, to paying for a meal with TechCASH. A unique opportunity has presented itself and MIT Information Systems and Technology (IS&amp;T)&nbsp;is looking to transform how the community obtains, uses, and manages the MIT ID.</p> <p>Apple, in partnership with CBORD, has enabled a select group of universities and other schools to integrate their ID cards with&nbsp;the Apple Wallet app. This has allowed MIT to take a more modern approach to issuing MIT ID cards on iOS devices, including the Apple watch.&nbsp;Potentially as soon as next summer, community members with iOS devices will be able to get a digital ID via the MIT mobile app: Take a selfie, authenticate with your Kerberos ID and password, and within minutes have an MIT ID that’s ready for use in your Apple Wallet. A version for Android will follow.</p> <p>This also opens up the opportunity to improve the onboarding process, making it easy for new students and staff to obtain their ID before they even get to campus.</p> <p>Once you have a digital MIT ID, you can use it for everything you use your plastic ID card for on campus today. IS&amp;T also envisions a dashboard where you can manage all of the services used with the ID card in one place: Community members will, for example, be able to check their TechCASH balance and Dining Dollars; books checked out of the library; what they paid for parking last month; any gym membership status; what buildings they have access to; and status of Pharos printing credits.</p> <p>The current plastic MIT ID cards will continue to be supported in almost all cases. A small number of people with older plastic MIT ID cards will need to have those replaced as part of the modernization of MIT’s campus security system.</p> The annual "Collaborating for MIT’s Future" poster session featured 55 posters and 132 presenters from 40 MIT departments, offices, and groups. Nearly 400 attendees came to catch up with colleagues and find out about forward-looking projects.Photo: David SellaMedia Lab, MIT Medical, Information Systems and Technology, Facilities, Community, Campus services, Special events and guest speakers, Campus Dining Rising Stars in civil and environmental engineering come to MIT http://news.mit.edu/2019/rising-stars-civil-environmental-engineering-come-to-mit-1113 MIT CEE hosts workshop for early-career women in academia. Wed, 13 Nov 2019 13:05:24 -0500 Chuck Leddy | Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering http://news.mit.edu/2019/rising-stars-civil-environmental-engineering-come-to-mit-1113 <p>Women in STEM can find it more challenging to navigate an academic career path simply because it has not been well traveled to date. MIT is working to change this with a well-designed map.</p> <p>On October 24 and 25, The <a href="http://cee.mit.edu/about/">MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering</a> (CEE) hosted its third Civil and Environmental Engineering <a href="https://cee.mit.edu/rising-stars/">Rising Stars Workshop</a>, bringing together 20 distinguished early-career women interested in careers in academia. The workshop included research presentations, an hour-long mentoring discussion with MIT Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart, four panel discussions on building an academic career, and lots of networking opportunities.</p> <p>This year’s 20 participants came from around the globe, selected from an applicant pool of 73 women by a steering committee of MIT faculty, led by Colette Heald, professor in CEE and in the MIT Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. “Women are under-represented in the STEM faculty ranks,” said Heald, “and the late graduate student, early postdoc time is critical to deciding on future career directions. We hope that the workshop will help demystify the process of applying for faculty positions and becoming a successful faculty member.” Other members of the steering committee included Institute Professor Sally "Penny" Chisholm, who is based in CEE; Heidi Nepf, MacVicar Faculty Fellow and professor of CEE; Tal Cohen, professor of CEE; Franz-Josef Ulm, professor of CEE; and Bori Stoyanova, CEE’s human resource administrator.</p> <p>Dean of the MIT School of Engineering Anantha Chandrakasan opened the workshop sharing the history of the Rising Stars event and noting that five of the current department heads in the School of Engineering are women. Research presented by the participants at this year’s CEE workshop involved transportation systems, drinking water vulnerability, the impact of climate change on agriculture, emissions control strategies, energy, and more.</p> <p><strong>Advice, insight on building academic careers</strong></p> <p>MIT Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart, the CEE Ford Professor of Engineering, sat down with the workshop group to discuss her own career and answer questions. She described how the challenges she faced became more complicated over time, moving beyond the design of algorithms to issues involving public policy. When asked whether she’d ever had doubts along the way, Barnhart said: “Every time I’ve taken a new job, I’ve accepted wondering ‘Can I be successful at this job?’ And that seems right to me — if you have no doubts, you probably aren’t realizing your potential.”</p> <p>The four workshop panels, made up of MIT faculty members, covered the job search and interview process, successfully navigating the first few years of a faculty career, work-life balance, and specific challenges facing women in academia.&nbsp;</p> <p>McAfee Professor of Engineering and CEE department head Markus Buehler kicked off the first panel, which included Nepf, Dave Des Marais, and Ali Jadbabaie, by explaining in detail the components of MIT’s hiring process. He described what a strong application should look like, what a strong recommendation letter should include, what could be expected during interviews, and more. Nepf sat down with participants and described the key interview questions they should expect (including, “What’s your most significant result? What will you do when you come here?”) and offered insights about how to approach answering them.</p> <p>Daniella Saetta, a PhD candidate in environmental engineering in the School of Sustainable Engineering at Arizona State University, described the job search/interview panel as “the most valuable one for me because that's where I am right now, applying for jobs. The description of the MIT hiring process was really good. A lot of the time, we don't get specifics about one school’s process. Even if I'm not going to be applying to MIT, having a specific process that I can then compare to others is really useful.”&nbsp;</p> <p>The second panel explored the tenure process. Panelist Franz-Joself Ulm described the process as “scary and stressful,” and emphasized the importance of seeking faculty mentors who could “help you frame the narrative you need to have for tenure.” Much of this second panel, and the group discussion after, centered on time management, how to prioritize multiple obligations around teaching, research, personal, and family life. “You have to set up and follow strict rules to maintain work-life balance,” explained Heald. “For example, I don’t answer emails after 8 pm, which helps me sleep better.” During the third panel, on work-life balance, Professor Jesse Kroll told the group: “I’m better at my job when I’m happy and doing the outside activities I enjoy.”</p> <p><strong>Addressing specific challenges women face</strong></p> <p>The workshop’s final panel explored specific issues facing women. Heald said, “one big challenge women face is the lack of [female] mentors. There just aren’t that many models for you to follow.” Heald pushed back against this particular challenge by creating a support network of other women in her field to share insights and support.&nbsp;</p> <p>“We need to acknowledge the implicit bias and structural barriers that impact women in academia,” said panelist Caitlin Mueller. Nepf raised two additional challenges: “women are socialized never to ask for anything for ourselves. Get over that, and ask for what you need” and suggested that “automatically saying yes to everything you’re asked is a big mistake. Take time to think about it and get comfortable saying no.” A CEE Rising Stars attendee in 2015, Cohen addressed the imposter syndrome many women faculty experience: “At the beginning of your career, you may not feel like a professor. It’s a transition that will take time.”&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Networking to create a cohort of rising stars</strong></p> <p>The workshop was filled with opportunities for the 20 women to network over coffee breaks, lunches, campus tour, dinner with MIT faculty, and more. As Heald explains, creating a cohort of women to become the next generation of academic leaders is a key workshop goal: “The under-representation of women in academia can make it challenging for women to identify successful models and mentors with similar career experiences. For that reason, a network of peers can be particularly helpful. That’s a big part of CEE Rising Stars.”</p> <p><a href="https://usys.ethz.ch/en/people/profile.MjI5NjY5.TGlzdC82MzcsMzIwMTk3MjIy.html" target="_blank">Nadine Borduas-Dedekind</a>, who attended the workshop in 2015 and is currently a lecturer at <a href="https://ethz.ch/en.html">ETH-Zurich</a>, said her “most valuable experience was meeting like-minded women interested in careers in academia and uncertain about how to achieve that. I met exceptionally intelligent, talented, and ambitious women from many different fields of engineering who had similar concerns about insecurities, children, family, jobs, mobility, and more. I was inspired and encouraged to know that I wasn’t alone.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Nicole Jackson, a PhD candidate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who attended this year, shared a similar experience: “It's been really valuable to meet with my peers. CEE is incredibly diverse and the breadth of technical content that's been covered here has been really impressive. Meeting women who are leading some of these fields that are very different from my own has been a really wonderful experience. We need more events like this.”</p> Twenty women from around the world were selected to participate in MIT CEE’s workshop to bring together the next generation of leaders in CEE and help prepare them for a career in academia.Photo: Maria IacoboSpecial events and guest speakers, Diversity and inclusion, Civil and environmental engineering, Women in STEM, School of Engineering, Women At MIT forum, results of sexual misconduct survey, plans for action presented http://news.mit.edu/2019/forum-sexual-misconduct-survey-action-1113 Chancellor Barnhart and working groups describe findings and recommendations. Wed, 13 Nov 2019 11:16:22 -0500 David L. Chandler | MIT News Office http://news.mit.edu/2019/forum-sexual-misconduct-survey-action-1113 <p>At Tuesday’s “Community Forum on Preventing and Responding to Sexual Misconduct,” MIT faculty, students, and staff were briefed on results from the latest campus-wide <a href="https://news.mit.edu/2019/MIT-takes-action-sexual-misconduct-survey-1015">survey on sexual misconduct</a> at MIT. The forum also focused on the efforts of <a href="https://chancellor.mit.edu/response-to-report-of-national-academies-committee-on-women-in-science-engineering-and-medicine">four working groups</a> that have been exploring how the Institute can strengthen its work to prevent and respond to sexual misconduct.</p> <p>As described in a <a href="http://orgchart.mit.edu/node/5/letters_to_community/nov-5-forum-and-draft-reports-gender-harassment">letter</a> to the MIT community from Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart and Provost Martin Schmidt, “these groups of faculty, students, staff, and postdocs have been reviewing our practices and making recommendations to foster a more inclusive, respectful, and equitable culture, specifically examining matters of leadership, policies, training, and the power imbalances in working and academic relationships.”</p> <p>At the forum, the leaders of the four working groups summarized their findings and draft recommendations, and then addressed questions from the audience. MIT President L. Rafael Reif; Institute Professor Sheila Widnall, <a href="https://news.mit.edu/2018/sheila-widnall-sexual-harassment-STEM-0917">co-chair of the 2018 National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine Report on the sexual harassment of women in academia</a>; and faculty leaders from across the Institute’s schools and departments attended.</p> <p>In introducing the forum, Barnhart explained that in response to the National Academies report, Reif had established an advisory leadership board and four working groups to study the report’s recommendations and how best to put them into action. Now that the working groups’ reports have been made public, MIT is seeking comments and responses, both publicly through the forum and <a href="https://mit.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_4SJI5W0DDZOfQMt">online</a> through a commentary period that extends until Nov. 15. After that, this input will be incorporated into final reports, and an implementation plan will be developed. The reports and implementation plan will be issued to the MIT community in January.</p> <p>Borrowing a metaphor from the National Academies report, Barnhart compared sexual harassment to an iceberg where certain actions are “less visible and beneath the waterline” but nevertheless contribute to an overall climate that creates uncomfortable working and learning situations for many people. Indeed, when students who experienced sexual harassment were asked why they did not contact a program or resource, about half indicated “Events like this seem common,” and about one-third said the reaction from people they told suggested their experience wasn’t serious enough to contact a program or service.</p> <p>The broad survey of MIT undergraduate and graduate students found that about 40 percent of respondents had experienced at least one form of harassing behavior at the Institute. Under the definitions used in the survey, harassing behavior included belittling comments, crude sexual remarks or jokes, and unwanted touching or requests for sexual contact. When such behavior rises to the level of becoming severe or pervasive enough to interfere with a person’s performance or participation in academic activities, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment, then it becomes “harassment.”</p> <p>“To address sexual misconduct is also to address culture and climate issues more generally,” Barnhart said. “At MIT, we have to have solutions that resonate at the student level, solutions designed by and for our community.” Barnhart also noted the importance of initiatives receiving support and assistance from the central administration.</p> <p>Leaders of the four working groups then discussed their work and findings. The working group on <a href="https://chancellor.mit.edu/sites/default/files/Training%20%26%20Prevention%20Working%20Group%20Draft%20Report.pdf">training and prevention</a>, co-chaired by Sarah Rankin, director and Title IX coordinator, and Libby Mahaffy, diversity and inclusion specialist in Human Resources, described their efforts to make an inventory of MIT’s existing training programs, and attempts to benchmark their impact. Because MIT is a fairly siloed institution, “we recommended a greater alignment across the institute” in terms of antiharassment training programs, said Mahaffy.</p> <p>That group also suggested that there should be annual training on issues of sexual misconduct and gender harassment, including for undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and staff. For those who receive these trainings repeatedly, there should be “new topics, new training that would resonate with them,” Rankin said. Such trainings should be focused on existing groups, such as academic departments, dorms, or labs, so that they can provide mutual reinforcement of the lessons learned. The group also said there should be continuing assessments of the effectiveness of all the approaches being used to deal with these issues.</p> <p>The working group on <a href="https://chancellor.mit.edu/sites/default/files/Leadership%20and%20Engagement%20Working%20Group%20Draft%20Report.pdf">leadership and engagement</a>, co-chaired by Alyce Johnson, special advisor to the provost, and Maryanne Kirkbride, executive administrator of MindHandHeart, said their group focused on increasing visibility around these issues, expanding leadership training and skill-building programs, and stressing the importance of effective communications. “How do we recognize and acknowledge” the places where positive work is being done to address harassment, and provide “consistent reinforcement” for those efforts, Johnson asked.</p> <p>Kirkbride added that rather than just occasional specific communications about these issues, such messages should be included in all relevant speeches or letters from senior officials, stressing the fact that “reporting [of misbehavior] is honorable and courageous,” and needs to be encouraged at all levels. Kirkbride also said she would respond to a community member’s suggestion that trauma-informed leadership training be incorporated into the working group’s final report.&nbsp;</p> <p>The working group on <a href="https://chancellor.mit.edu/sites/default/files/Policy%20%26%20Reporting%20Working%20Group%20Draft%20Report.pdf">policies and reporting</a>, chaired by Policy and Compliance Specialist Marianna Pierce and Assistant Provost Doreen Morris, “had very lively discussions,” for example about the language contained in MIT’s policies on personal conduct and harassment, and against retaliation, Pierce said. While there are good policy statements in place, in some cases the wording of the policies is not consistent between the student and faculty and staff policies, and sometimes the descriptions are too short and lack examples that would help people understand their relevance to particular situations and interactions, she said.</p> <p>Pierce described an upcoming revision of the policy on how to handle complaints against faculty and staff, which will be effective at the beginning of the second semester. A new Institute Discrimination and Harassment Response Office will be responsible for investigating all complaints and issuing annual reports, including aggregate statistics regarding the outcomes of their investigations. At present, individuals who file complaints against faculty and staff are not told what actions resulted from the complaint, which has been frustrating to many of these complainants. It’s important to decide on procedures for “what should be disclosed, not only to the complainant, but in some circumstances” possibly also to a larger group, Pierce said. Disclosures about the results of complaints, she said, can “help to address a culture of silence” but must find the right balance between transparency and privacy.</p> <p>The <a href="https://chancellor.mit.edu/sites/default/files/AOR%20Working%20Group%20Draft%20Report.pdf">academic and organizational relationships working group</a>, co-chaired by professors Paula Hammond and Tim Jamison, came up with a set of six overall recommendations for change. These included clear articulation of values, ongoing assessments of how programs to address these problems are actually working, accountability for those found to have violated policies, and “recognition of excellence,” Jamison said, which is important in order to “incentivize people to go beyond expectations,” and provides a means for an organization to reaffirm its values.</p> <p>“We thought it was important to talk about the values we all share,” Hammond added. “It’s important for us to have cross-campus discussions” to develop clear statements of “what we think about our community interactions.” The report details many suggested actions, ranging from some that can be readily implemented to others that will take more time to develop. For example, one that could be adopted quickly is restructuring the format of thesis committee meetings to build in a slot of time for the student to meet with the committee without their advisor present, to make it easy for the student to articulate any issues relating to their relationship with that advisor.</p> <p>The presentations were followed by a question-and-answer period, during which several students, faculty, and staff members made suggestions, raised issues and asked about the application of some of these policies and recommendations, including reporting data on complaints about students and faculty, and ensuring an appropriate response to complaints arising in the LGBTQ community. Other questions addressed hiring and promotions, and accounting for the time commitment involved in responding to complaints.</p> <p>A question was asked about Professor Seth Lloyd, who accepted gifts from Jeffrey Epstein. Provost Martin Schmidt replied that leadership from Lloyd’s departments have reached out to support students currently enrolled in Lloyd’s class and that the concerns and needs of the students were being carefully monitored.</p> <p>Barnhart concluded the forum by expressing appreciation to all community members for attending and offering their ideas and questions, and she thanked the co-chairs and working group members for their hard work. She encouraged community members <a href="https://mit.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_4SJI5W0DDZOfQMt">to provide comments</a> on the draft reports by Nov. 15.</p> MIT Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart introduced the Community Forum on Preventing and Responding to Sexual Misconduct.Image: Allegra BovermanChancellor, President L. Rafael Reif, Students, Community, Faculty, Staff, Administration, Student life, Women, Special events and guest speakers, Diversity and inclusion MIT AgeLab’s fifth annual OMEGA Summit engages high school students with older generations http://news.mit.edu/2019/mit-agelab-fifth-omega-summit-engages-high-school-students-older-generations-1107 The summit convenes experts and elders with young people for dialogue and learning about aging. Thu, 07 Nov 2019 14:55:01 -0500 Adam Felts | MIT AgeLab http://news.mit.edu/2019/mit-agelab-fifth-omega-summit-engages-high-school-students-older-generations-1107 <p>The MIT AgeLab held its fifth&nbsp;annual <a href="http://agelab.mit.edu/omega">OMEGA</a> Summit on the MIT campus, an event that engages and educates high school students who are interested in learning about intergenerational programming and leadership.</p> <p>Intergenerational programs create settings and opportunities for older and younger adults to meaningfully connect and exchange with each other. Younger people can learn from the experiences and knowledge of older individuals, while older adults may enjoy the benefits of social embeddedness and connectedness that come with sharing wisdom with the youth of their communities.&nbsp;</p> <p>In a rapidly aging and fragmented society, new ideas to promote intergenerational exchange are more important than ever. Older Americans who are disconnected from their communities are at risk of becoming socially isolated, which has been shown to have a significant effect on health and well-being. The <a href="https://www.nia.nih.gov/news/social-isolation-loneliness-older-people-pose-health-risks">National Institute on Aging</a> reports that 28 percent of older adults are socially isolated. At the same time, teenagers in the United States are on the front lines of a national “<a href="https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/05/01/606588504/americans-are-a-lonely-lot-and-young-people-bear-the-heaviest-burden">loneliness epidemic</a>,” with Generation Z suffering the highest rates of loneliness (48 percent) of any generation.</p> <p>“Intergenerational exchange has been the norm throughout most of history, but for many of us, opportunities to connect with distant age groups have become few and far between,” says Taylor Patskanick, a researcher at the MIT AgeLab and an organizer of the summit. “The OMEGA Summit is a way for students and adults across generations to rediscover and reimagine these forms of connection within a more technologically driven world.”&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Nearly 50 teens, older adult community members, aging-service providers, and educators attended the OMEGA Summit at the MIT AgeLab. They were introduced to the purpose and value of intergenerational programming by AgeLab researchers and had the opportunity to brainstorm and present ideas for intergenerational programs that they might organize in their own communities.&nbsp;</p> <p>The students received guidance for their ideas from professionals in the fields of education and aging services. They also received feedback from older adult volunteers from the greater Boston, Massachusetts community, including members of the MIT AgeLab’s <a href="http://agelab.mit.edu/85-lifestyle-leaders-panel">Lifestyle Leaders</a> research panel and volunteers from the City of Boston’s <a href="https://www.boston.gov/departments/age-strong-commission/age-strong-designations">Area Agency on Aging</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p>Ideas that the students presented during the summit included “Minder,” an intergenerational skills-exchange and mentoring program, “Kindred,” an app designed to furnish social connections and instrumental assistance between younger people and older adults, and “Smart Seniors,” a program where teenagers instruct older adults on using new technologies.</p> <p>The summit also featured a presentation by Laura Warnecke, director of resident programming at <a href="https://www.fivestarseniorliving.com/">Five Star Senior Living</a>, on careers in aging. Careers and entrepreneurial opportunities in the “longevity economy” are rapidly growing in the United States. Massachusetts has positioned itself as the “<a href="https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2018/07/18/older-population-grows-massachusetts-angles-become-silicon-valley-for-age-tech/apvZqm03YGZGbpwyAtsN1K/story.html">Silicon Valley of aging</a>,” with MIT playing a key role to catalyze the state’s leadership in aging innovation.&nbsp;</p> <p>“Preparing for an older population requires reinventing and reimagining what it means to grow older and how different generations relate to each other,” says Joseph Coughlin, director of the MIT AgeLab. “OMEGA empowers younger adults to create new kinds of connections within our increasingly multigenerational households, workplaces, and society.”</p> <p>In addition to organizing the OMEGA Summit, the MIT AgeLab annually awards OMEGA scholarships to high school juniors and seniors who have developed or led intergenerational programming in their schools or communities. The goal of OMEGA is to strengthen relationships and promote connections across generations.</p> <div></div> High school students, aging professionals, and older adults were brought together for the 2019 MIT AgeLab OMEGA Summit.AgeLab, Aging, Community, Special events and guest speakers Lincoln Laboratory welcomes Natalia Guerrero for Hispanic Heritage Month event http://news.mit.edu/2019/lincoln-laboratory-welcomes-tess-researcher-natalia-guerrero-hispanic-heritage-month-1107 MIT Kavli Institute researcher working on the TESS mission gave the keynote address at an annual event organized by the Lincoln Laboratory Hispanic/Latino Network. Thu, 07 Nov 2019 14:45:01 -0500 Nathan Parde | Lincoln Laboratory http://news.mit.edu/2019/lincoln-laboratory-welcomes-tess-researcher-natalia-guerrero-hispanic-heritage-month-1107 <p>How unique is our solar system? This is a question that scientists have been trying to answer for a long time. It is also the question that <a href="https://space.mit.edu/people/guerrero-natalia/">Natalia Guerrero</a> posed during her keynote address at MIT Lincoln Laboratory's recent Hispanic Heritage Month event.</p> <p>Guerrero is a researcher from MIT's Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research and the MIT communications lead for NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission. TESS is a space telescope that launched in April 2018 on a mission to find exoplanets, or planets that orbit stars outside our solar system. She manages a team that identifies potential planets out of a sea of stars&nbsp;using data from TESS's images.</p> <p>In her keynote address, she discussed TESS's most recent discoveries, as well as how learning about exoplanets will lead to a better understanding of where Earth belongs in the wide variety of possible worlds. "TESS has huge potential for giving us a glimpse of a vast expanse of sky at any given time," Guerrero said. She explained that exoplanets are statistically very common — for every star, there is likely at least one planet in orbit.</p> <p>TESS detects these distant planets by observing the faint dimming of a star as an orbiting planet passes between it and the Earth. To make these detections, TESS uses four charge-coupled device cameras that were developed at Lincoln Laboratory. Since its launch, TESS has discovered 1,288 planet candidates from 15 sectors of the sky, with 29 of those now officially registered as planets.</p> <p>After her keynote, Guerrero shared that she enjoyed drawing on the link between MIT and Lincoln Laboratory while developing TESS: "It was a beautiful thing, being able to take advantage of the existing bridge between MIT and the laboratory while extending my own MIT network to new connections at the laboratory. I've always appreciated and valued the quality of the TESS instrument, so it is exciting to see where its parts were made."</p> <p>Guerrero, the daughter of Hispanic Americans, met with members of the Lincoln Laboratory Hispanic/Latino Network (HLN) and the greater laboratory community both before and after her talk.</p> <p>Lincoln Laboratory staff member Alexander Serrano attended the keynote address and a lunch with Guerrero that was organized by HLN. "Natalia is remarkable in that she has a strong passion for making science education more accessible to the masses via public talks and outreach," he says. "This [theme of education] resonated with a lot of HLN members, including myself, who have also had similar academic journeys while growing up as first-generation American college students."</p> <p>Eric Chaidez, co-chair of HLN, adds that Guerrero's talk was insightful and related to many technical topics that he and fellow researchers in the Space Systems Analysis and Test Group have worked on.</p> <p>As one of Lincoln Laboratory's nine employee resource groups, HLN supports the community by coordinating recruitment and outreach activities, as well as&nbsp;opportunities for staff to gain leadership experience and showcase their technical work. This event was hosted by HLN to champion the technical achievements of the Hispanic and Latinx community at MIT.</p> <p>"Events such as these allow participants to form strong professional networking relationships," Chaidez says. "It allows them to meet other community members, both within the laboratory and externally, that may be working on similar technical topics, or that may share similar ideas that can help the laboratory form coalitions with outside organizations for further outreach, diversity, and inclusion events."</p> Members and supporters of MIT Lincoln Laboratory's Hispanic/Latino Network gather with Natalia Guerrero (sixth from left) after her keynote address.Photo: Nicole FandelLincoln Laboratory, Kavli Institute, TESS, Diversity and inclusion, Education, teaching, academics, Exoplanets, Special events and guest speakers, Staff Driving toward a healthier planet http://news.mit.edu/2019/driving-toward-healthier-planet-brian-storey-mit-materials-day-1107 Materials Day speaker Brian Storey describes how the Toyota Research Institute is embracing machine learning to advance the use of electric vehicles. Thu, 07 Nov 2019 13:20:01 -0500 Denis Paiste | Materials Research Laboratory http://news.mit.edu/2019/driving-toward-healthier-planet-brian-storey-mit-materials-day-1107 <p>With 100 million Toyota vehicles on the planet emitting greenhouse gases at a rate roughly comparable to those of France, the Toyota Motor Corporation has set a goal of reducing all tailpipe emissions by 90 percent by 2050, according to Brian Storey, who directs the <a href="http://www.tri.global/research/" target="_blank">Toyota Research Institute</a> (TRI) Accelerated Materials Design and Discovery program from its Kendall Square office in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He gave the keynote address at the MIT Materials Research Laboratory's Materials Day Symposium on Oct. 9.</p> <p>“A rapid shift from the traditional vehicle to electric vehicles has started,” Storey says. “And we want to enable that to happen at a faster pace.”</p> <p>“Our role at TRI is to develop tools for accelerating the development of emissions-free vehicles,” Storey said. He added that machine learning is helping to speed up those innovations, but the challenges are very great, so his team has to be a little humble about what it can actually accomplish.</p> <p>Electrification is just one of four “disrupters” to the automotive industry, which are often abbreviated CASE (connected, autonomous, shared, electric). “It’s a disrupter to the industry because Toyota has decades of experience of optimizing the combustion engine,” Storey said. “We know how to do it; it’s reliable; it’s affordable; it lasts forever. Really, the heart of the Toyota brand is the quality of the combustion engine and transmission.”</p> <p>Storey stated that as society shifts toward electrification — battery or fuel cell vehicles — new capability, technology, and know-how is needed. Storey says “while Toyota has a lot of experience in these areas, we still need to move faster if we are going to make this kind of transition.”</p> <p>To help with that acceleration,&nbsp;Toyota Research Institute&nbsp;is providing $10 million a year to support research of approximately 125 professors, postdocs, and graduate students at 10 academic institutions. About $2 million a year of that research is being&nbsp;<a dir="ltr" href="http://news.mit.edu/2017/multi-university-effort-will-advance-materials-define-future-of-mobility-0403" rel="noopener" target="_blank">done at MIT</a>. Storey is also a professor of mechanical engineering at&nbsp;<a dir="ltr" href="http://www.olin.edu/faculty/profile/brian-d-storey/" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Olin College of Engineering</a>.</p> <p>For example, the Battery Evaluation and Early Prediction (BEEP) project, which is a TRI collaboration with MIT and Stanford University, aims to expand the value of lithium-based battery systems. In experiments, many batteries are charged and discharged at the same time. “From that data alone, the charge and discharge data, we can extract features. It’s super practical because we get the data. We extract features from the data, and we can correlate those features with lifetime,” Storey explained.</p> <p>The traditional way of testing whether a battery is going to last for a thousand cycles is to cycle it for a thousand times. Storey noted that if each cycle takes one hour, one battery requires 1,000 hours of testing. “What we want to do is bring that time way back, and so our goal is to able to do it in five — to cycle five times and get a good estimate of what the battery’s lifetime would be at 1,000 cycles, doing it purely from data,” Storey said.</p> <p>Published&nbsp;<a dir="ltr" href="https://doi.org/10.1038/s41560-019-0356-8" rel="noopener" target="_blank">results</a>&nbsp;in&nbsp;<em>Nature Energy</em>&nbsp;in March 2019 show just a 4.9 percent test error using data in classifying lithium-ion batteries from the first five charge/discharge cycles.</p> <p>“This is a nice capability because it actually allows acceleration in testing,” Storey noted. “It’s using machine learning, but it’s really using it at the device scale, the ‘as-manufactured’ battery.”</p> <p>The cloud-based battery evaluation software system allows TRI to collaborate easily with colleagues at MIT, Stanford, and Toyota’s home base in Japan, he said.</p> <p>Program researchers operate it in a closed-loop, semi-autonomous way, where the computer decides and executes the next-best experiment. The system finds charging policies that are better than ones that have been published in the literature, and it finds them rapidly. “The key to this is the early prediction model, because if we want to predict the lifetime, we don’t have to do the whole test.” Storey added that the closed-loop testing “pulls the scientist up a level in terms of what questions they can ask.”</p> <p>TRI would like to use this closed-loop battery evaluation system to optimize the first charge/discharge cycle a battery goes through, which is called formation cycling. “It’s like caring for the battery when it’s a baby,” Storey explained. “How you do those first cycles actually sets it up for the rest of its life. It’s a real black art, and how do you optimize this process?”</p> <p>TRI’s long-term goal is to improve battery durability so that, from the consumer point of view, the battery capacity never goes down. Storey emphasized “we want the battery in the car to just last forever.”</p> <p>Storey notes TRI is also conducting two other research projects, AI-Assisted Catalysis Experimentation (ACE) with CalTech to improve catalysts for fuel cell vehicles such as Toyota’s Mirai, and a materials synthesis project, mostly within TRI, to use machine learning to identify whether or not the new materials predicted on the computer are likely to be synthesizable.</p> <p>For the materials synthesis project, TRI began with the phase diagrams of materials. “You build up a network of every material you’ve got in the computational database and look at features of the network. Believing that somehow those materials are connected to other materials through the relationship in this network provides a prediction of synthesizability,” Storey explained. “The way you can train the algorithm is by looking in the historical record of when certain materials were synthesized. You can virtually roll the clock back, pretending to know only what you knew in 1980, and use that to train your algorithm.” A&nbsp;<a dir="ltr" href="https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-10030-5" rel="noopener" target="_blank">report</a>&nbsp;on the materials synthesis network was published in May in&nbsp;<em>Nature Communications</em>.</p> <p>TRI is collaborating with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and MIT Professor Martin Z. Bazant on a project that couples highly detailed mechanics of battery particles revealed through 4D scanning tunneling electron microscopy with a continuum model that captures larger-scale materials properties. “This program figures out the reaction kinetics and thermodynamics at a continuum scale, which is otherwise unknown,” Storey said.</p> <p>“We’re putting our software tools online, so over the coming year many of these tools will start becoming available,” Storey explained. Hosted by LBNL, the Propnet materials database is already accessible to internal collaborators. Matscholar is accessible through&nbsp;<a dir="ltr" href="https://github.com/materialsintelligence/matscholar" rel="noopener" target="_blank">GitHub</a>. Both projects were funded by TRI.</p> <p>“Our dream, which is a work in progress, is to have a system architecture that overlies all these projects and can start to tie them together,” Storey said. “We are creating a system that’s built for machine learning from the start, allows for diverse data, allows for systems and atom-scale measurements, and is capable of this idea of AI-driven feedback and autonomy. The idea is that you launch the system and it runs on its own, and everything lives in the cloud to enable collaboration.”</p> Brian Storey, director of accelerated materials design and discovery at Toyota Research Institute, speaks at the MIT MRL Materials Day Symposium.Photo: Denis Paiste/Materials Research LaboratoryMaterials Research Laboratory, Machine learning, Artificial intelligence, Greenhouse gases, Electric vehicles, Transportation, Batteries, Emissions, Special events and guest speakers MIT.nano announces the Mildred S. Dresselhaus Lectures http://news.mit.edu/2019/mitnano-announces-mildred-s-dresselhaus-lectures-1105 Cornell University’s Paul McEuen will inaugurate series to honor beloved MIT professor. Tue, 05 Nov 2019 14:30:01 -0500 Amanda Stoll | MIT.nano http://news.mit.edu/2019/mitnano-announces-mildred-s-dresselhaus-lectures-1105 <p>Over a 50-year career as an MIT professor and pioneer in the field of nanoscience, Mildred Dresselhaus (1930-2017) helped unlock the secrets of carbon and paved the way for future scientists and engineers to study at the nanoscale. To pay enduring tribute to Dresselhaus and her extraordinary impact on MIT and the broader scientific community,&nbsp;MIT.nano has established the Mildred S. Dresselhaus Lectures.</p> <p>The new event — which will be held annually in November, the month of Dresselhaus’s birth — will recognize a significant figure in science and engineering from anywhere in the world whose leadership and impact echo Dresselhaus’s life, accomplishments, and values.&nbsp;</p> <p>The first distinguished lecturer, selected by a committee of MIT faculty, is Paul McEuen, the John A. Newman Professor of Physical Science at Cornell University and director of the Kavli Institute at Cornell for Nanoscale Science.</p> <p>McEuen, whose research group&nbsp;boasts the tag line “anything, as long as it’s small,”&nbsp;will present a public lecture at MIT on Wednesday, Nov. 13, entitled “<a href="https://mitnano.mit.edu/dresselhaus-lecture">Cell-sized Sensors and Robots</a>.” The talk will address a Cornell effort to combine microelectronics, optics, paper arts, and 2D materials to create a new generation of cell-sized smart, active sensors and microbots that are powered and communicate by light.</p> <p>“Paul’s explorations of&nbsp;the electronic, optical, and mechanical properties of nanoscale materials&nbsp;are helping to lead us into the Nano Age. His contributions as a scientist are equaled by his generosity of spirit as a colleague and mentor,” says Vladimir Bulović, the founding faculty director of MIT.nano and the&nbsp;Fariborz Maseeh (1990) Professor in Emerging Technology. “We are delighted to launch the new Dresselhaus Lectures with someone whose creativity, impact, and character offer such a strong reminder of why Millie was so special to us.”</p> <p>In addition to their research focus, Dresselhaus and McEuen share a connection through the Kavli Foundation. Dresselhaus received the Kavli Prize in Nanoscience in 2012 for her work studying phonons, electron-phonon interactions, and thermal transport in nanostructures.</p> <p>Dresselhaus held several scientific leadership roles, including president of the American Physical Society in 1984, of which McEuen is now a fellow. She was well-known both off and on MIT’s campus, where she remained an active presence late into her career. Starting at Lincoln Laboratory in 1960, Dresselhaus went on to have appointments in the departments of Electrical Engineering and Physics.&nbsp;In 1985 she became the first woman at MIT to be honored with the title of Institute Professor, an esteemed position held by no more than 12 MIT professors at one time. Dresselhaus co-authored eight books and about 1,700 papers, and supervised more than 60 doctoral students.</p> <p>Dresselhaus was also known for her mentorship and dedication to promoting gender equity in science and engineering. In 1971, she organized the first Women’s Forum at MIT to explore the roles of women in science and engineering. Such early efforts reflected a lifelong commitment to promoting gender equity in science and engineering and to encouraging women to enter these traditionally male-dominated fields.</p> <p>Dresselhaus was also a strong faculty supporter during the development of MIT.nano, an open-access facility for nanoscience and nanoengineering set in the heart of MIT where researchers from different departments can encounter one another, sharing knowledge and ideas. “The vision is that this nano building will change the exploration of many things,” said Dresselhaus in 2016. “You have to be in an environment that’s permissive of crazy thoughts and crazy directions, which can lead to something really great.”</p> <p>The inaugural Dresselhaus Lecture with Paul McEuen is free and open to the public. <a href="http://mitnano.mit.edu/dresselhaus-lecture" target="_blank">Advance registration</a> is required.</p> Mildred Dresselhaus Photo: Ed QuinnMIT.nano, Lincoln Laboratory, Physics, School of Engineering, School of Science, Nanoscience and nanotechnology, Special events and guest speakers, Faculty, History of MIT, Women in STEM, Electrical Engineering & Computer Science (eecs), 2-D, Women, Carbon From 3D-printed limbs to semi-autonomous race cars http://news.mit.edu/2019/3-d-printed-limbs-semi-autonomous-race-cars-future-of-mobility-1101 Envisioning the future (and challenges) of designing affordable technology-enabled mobility devices. Fri, 01 Nov 2019 12:00:01 -0400 Camilla Brinkman | Edgerton Center http://news.mit.edu/2019/3-d-printed-limbs-semi-autonomous-race-cars-future-of-mobility-1101 <p>In early October, the MIT International Design Center and the MIT Edgerton Center hosted a panel discussion on “Envisioning the Future of Technology-Enabled Mobility.”</p> <p>Moderated by Edgerton Center Director and Professor of Ocean and Mechanical Engineering J. Kim Vandiver, panelists included Robert Bond, chief technology officer of MIT Lincoln Laboratory; Dan Frey, professor of mechanical engineering and MIT D-Lab faculty research director; Neville Hogan, the Sun Jae Professor&nbsp;of Mechanical Engineering; and Jaya Narain, PhD candidate in mechanical engineering at the Fluid Interfaces Group in the MIT Media Lab.</p> <p>Also on the panel was Sam Schmidt, a professional IndyCar driver paralyzed from the shoulders down after a racing crash. He thought he’d never drive again. But he did.</p> <p>Schmidt attained a top speed of 192 mph on a jet runway driving a modified Chevrolet Corvette, the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.fiveyearsout.com/innovations/sam-car-technology-to-benefit-humanity">SAM car</a>&nbsp;(Semi-Autonomous Motorcar), developed by Arrow Electronics. Wearing a headset connected to infrared cameras that detected his head rotation, Schmidt steered. He used a sip-and-puff device to accelerate and brake.</p> <p><strong>Harmonizing human and robotic movement</strong></p> <p>According to Bond, one of the exoskeleton technology breakthroughs may soon be the integration of machine learning and microelectronics. “But it's also going to require a new actuator and new sensing technologies so that we can use machine learning to anticipate motion of the human, and then have the exoskeleton move in harmony with the human,” Bond said.</p> <p>“Earlier skeletal types of technologies were very awkward for people to use. And they almost worked against the human as they were trying to use it,” Bond added.</p> <p>One of the challenges “in developing these technologies — for example, with exoskeletal devices — they have to respect what the human does, the natural cadences of human movement,” said Hogan. Exoskeletal devices, for instance, need to get the right mix of technology and human movement. To demonstrate, Hogan asked the audience to move their arm from point A to point B in exactly 60 seconds, essentially “roboticizing” their arm movement. It was impossible.</p> <p><strong>Meaningful connections</strong></p> <p>Narain, who as an undergraduate co-founded&nbsp;<a href="http://assistivetech.mit.edu/">ATHack</a>, a two-week annual hackathon focused on assistive technologies, noted that the movement toward “do-it-yourself” technologies has played a valuable role in creating solutions for very specific needs.</p> <p>Simple projects — rearview cameras for electric wheelchairs, braking mechanisms for walkers — have been built in hackathons, but “with 3D printers and Arduinos and things like Google's core app for machine learning, brain-computer interfaces, I think it's going to become a lot more feasible for people to kind of start taking technology and developing it for themselves and people they know,” said Narain.</p> <p>What Narain finds inspiring is when students build relationships with the assistive-technology user. Students meet co-designers who propose a project. Students visit them at home, at work, where they're going to use the technology. “Maybe it's a basketball court. Maybe it's work. And when they have that rapport and that emotional connection, we found that those are the students who tend to stay in the space and continue with the project and other similar projects,” Narain said.</p> <p>Frey confirmed the sentiment. “If you present problems to students that are technologically challenging and socially relevant, the rest takes care of itself,” he said.</p> <p>“Basically, you have to beat them off with sticks if there's social relevance there … there's no problem attracting students,” said Hogan.</p> <p><strong>Extreme affordability</strong></p> <p>Schmidt notes that “maybe only 10 percent or 15 percent of the population of people with disabilities can afford a $60,000 [semi-autonomous] minivan … There's a lot of people not getting out of their houses because of the limitations.”</p> <p>Vandiver, who had visited&nbsp;<a href="http://www.jaipurfoot.org/">Jaipur Foot</a>&nbsp;in India, a maker of prostheses with a reported 1.78 million beneficiaries, asked, “How do we see that people who live on the extreme affordability side of the world benefit from some of the things that we're thinking about here?”</p> <p>Frey pointed out “that a huge proportion of this planet cannot pay a lot for the technologies. And the vast majority of all commercial engineering is focused on relatively few people.”</p> <p>One of the Lincoln Laboratory projects was challenging people to build prosthetics using 3D printers, “feet and hands and things of that sort. And what they kind of stumbled onto was, for young children who are growing up that need a limb, basically, they're growing and growing and growing. And they can't afford to continually replace that limb. But if you can codify a scalable and quickly manufacturable [one] with a 3D-printed prosthetic, they can just go print a new one a month later that fits them again,” said Bond.</p> <p>“It's not the best. It doesn't perform as well as the really high-tech ones,” Bond added. “But you get to refit it every month if you need to. So we should be thinking about how these new manufacturing technologies can just help us in doing things that might seem rather simple, but I think could have huge impact.”</p> <p><strong>Toward the future</strong></p> <p>Frey suggested using a related technology with a large market, such as cellphones, as the core of assistive technology. “As in, find something that already has a big market and kind of piggyback onto it,” he said.</p> <p>The event gave everyone an opportunity to network and consider ways to collaborate further; many numbers were exchanged. And, at the end, everyone had the chance to look under the hood of semi-autonomous technology in action — the SAM car parked in the Edgerton Center’s Area 51 garage.</p> Left to right: Neville Hogan, Jaya Narain, Robert Bond, Dan Frey, and Sam Schmidt spoke as part of “Envisioning the Future of Technology-Enabled Mobility” at MIT.Photo: Camilla BrinkmanEdgerton, Lincoln Laboratory, D-Lab, Mechanical engineering, Media Lab, Assistive technology, Autonomous vehicles, Special events and guest speakers, School of Engineering, School of Architecture and Planning Symposium explores challenges of adapting to climate change http://news.mit.edu/2019/symposium-explores-challenges-adapting-climate-change-1031 “Uncertainty is a reason to act, not to wait,” panelists agree. Thu, 31 Oct 2019 12:20:51 -0400 David L. Chandler | MIT News Office http://news.mit.edu/2019/symposium-explores-challenges-adapting-climate-change-1031 <p>In the second of six symposia on climate change to be held this academic year, seven experts from around the country tackled the topic of “challenges of climate policy.” The Oct. 29 event included three panel discussions held at MIT’s Wong Auditorium.</p> <p>Moderated by Richard Schmalensee, the Howard W. Johnson Professor of Management and professor of economics emeritus at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, the panelists discussed the social impacts caused by climate change; the kinds of adaptations that might help people cope with these impacts and limit their economic and physical harm; and possible solutions to the political, economic, and social factors affecting the world’s responses to this pressing issue.</p> <p>Global climate change will have “huge impacts that will affect every sector” of society, and “its costs will be extremely high,” said Susanne Moser, a specialist in adaptation to climate change and director of Susanne Moser Research and Consulting. Although there are still uncertainties about the rate and extent of climate change, she said, “uncertainty is a reason to act, not to wait.”</p> <p>Compared to the responses that experts say are required to forestall the worst effects of climate change, efforts around the world still fall far short, Moser said: “Most responses are just reactive. There’s no unifying vision, there’s no agreement on social equity priorities, and there is a surprising lack of urgency,” she said.</p> <p>Even most universities, she noted, do not yet have clear and easy ways to find information on their efforts toward adaptation to climate change, or programs for students to specialize in that field. “You can barely find it on their websites,” she said.</p> <p>Some people fear that an emphasis on adaptation could make people complacent because they see less need to to reduce greenhouse gases if plans are underway to adapt to a changed climate. But Moser disputed that claim. “We’ve studied that” and found the reverse to be true, she said. When people see just how difficult and expensive the processes of adaptation are, compared to measures to reduce emissions, “they realize reduction [of emissions] is a bargain,” and their motivation to deal with that issue actually increases.</p> <p>Andrew Steer, president and CEO of the World Resources Institute, urged listeners: “Let’s get serious about climate change adaptation, as if our lives depended on it. Which it may.” He said people need to start looking seriously at ways to respond to five different key areas of global change: higher temperatures, rising seas, stronger storms, shifting rainfall patterns, and acidification of the oceans.</p> <p>The impacts are likely to be extreme, he said. Just adapting to the changes directly affecting coastal cities could cost upward of a trillion dollars a year, he said. And yet, when governments and agencies allocate resources to dealing with climate change, so far only about 10 percent of that money goes toward adaptation, versus 90 percent toward mitigation, or efforts to slow or reverse the release of climate altering emissions. Both are crucial, he said, but adaptation should not be ignored since even with aggressive mitigation policies, a significant amount of climate change is already unavoidable.</p> <p>“Adaptation is a moral imperative,” he said, and also “an ecological imperative, and a massive economic imperative.”</p> <p>Adaptation need not be as expensive as people think, Steer added. Many of the measures that are needed to adapt to a warming world also have other benefits, he pointed out. As an example, drip irrigation was invented as a way to deal with drought conditions, but it is also an inherently more efficient system, greatly reducing the amount of water needed for crops and the need for power to operate pumps. That greater efficiency for farmers can lower their costs, and thus make food less expensive. “Done right, adaptation can have all kinds of dynamic benefits,” he said.</p> <p>Much more research is needed to quantify the expected effects of a warming planet, said Max Auffhammer, a professor of international sustainable development at the University of California at Berkeley. To study and quantify the economic harm done by 1 ton of carbon dioxide (roughly the amount emitted by driving a car from Cambridge to Berkeley, he said) is a very difficult task. The best existing estimates were made back in the 1990s, and much has been learned since then. Models need to encompass global coverage, establish causal connections, and anticipate significant technological changes. Imagine, he said, trying to predict in the late 1800s the energy that would be used for cooling houses today.</p> <p>Whereas some might say “we got this” in terms of the scientific answers about the effects of climate change, he said, “We don’t got this. There’s a lot of work to be done.”</p> <p>Kathleen Hicks, director of the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that the U.S. military forces, unlike many politicians, understand the problem of climate change and take it seriously. Partly that’s because it’s in their nature to always be assessing potential risks and planning how to respond to them, and they are highly trained in how to do so. In addition, they are already feeling the effects directly, with even inland bases such as one in Nebraska affected by severe flooding, likely exacerbated by climate change.</p> <p>“Climate is a national security concern that is not debated in the security community,” she said.</p> <p>But public opinion has also come a long way over the last several years, said Steven Ansolabehere, a professor of government at Harvard University. “The American public accepts that climate change is coming and is a concern,” he said, but “a majority also feel it’s distant,” with consequences beyond their lifetimes, whereas scientists studying the problem say its damaging effects are already being seen clearly in many parts of the world today. This discrepancy “is the heart of the problem, and it has implications for any policy we take,” he said.</p> <p>But Ansolabehere said that there are already interesting differences in the responses of younger people compared to their elders. The difference in the degree of urgency seen in the issue of climate change between younger (“millennial”) Republicans and “boomer” generation Republicans is just as big as the difference between Democrats and Republicans overall, he said. And, he said, linking policies to tackle climate change to other benefits such as clear air and clean water — for example through the closing of coal-fired power plants — is a more effective strategy for gaining support than just emphasizing the climate benefits.</p> <p>Henry Jacoby, the William F. Pounds Professor of Management Emeritus at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, said that the issue of climate change reflects the well-known “commons problem,” where a few bad actors can undermine a large group’s mutual dependence on common resources. He compared it to a shared refrigerator in a dorm, where there is little control over someone making off with someone else’s stored drink. Similarly, nations will almost always end up acting in their own self interest rather than for a more abstract common good.</p> <p>The way nations deal with that is through international agreements and treaties, such as the Paris Agreement on climate change. But that agreement is entirely voluntary, consisting of individual national pledges without any mechanism for enforcement. Just as with the dorm fridge, there’s no police officer to call about an infraction.</p> <p>By 2030, projections show that about three-quarters of all greenhouse emissions will be coming from developing countries — the places that can least afford to spend money to address the problem. “There’s going to have to be some financial transfer” from the wealthier countries to help those developing countries reduce their emissions, Jacoby said.</p> <p>Leah Stokes PhD ’15, an assistant professor of political science at the University of California at Santa Barbara, said that the three decades of climate denial efforts by major fossil fuel companies “has been extremely influential,” and will require significant efforts to reverse. But she also noted several reasons to expect that these attitudes are changing.</p> <p>For one, the raging wildfires in California and other places provide a vivid reminder that a significant increase in such fires is one of the expected effects of a warmer planet with more frequent and deeper droughts. In addition, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s most recent report set a target of 2030 by which the world must significantly reduce emissions. That short timeline means that “it’s suddenly not about the distant future,” but a time when most people still expect to be alive, she said, making the problem seem much more urgent. And increasing public actions, such as the recent Climate Strike initiated by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, have also raised the public awareness of the issue’s seriousness.</p> <p>Stokes pointed to significant areas of progress, such as the rapid growth of solar and wind power and electric vehicles, and state and local regulations that have continued to push for progress even as federal regulations have been cut back. But to continue this progress will require much more. “We must have solutions at the scale of the crisis,” she said. One approach that could help is to emphasize the potential for new, well-paying jobs in the renewable energy field. “It can’t just be about sticks,” she said, adding that there needs to be tangible carrots as well.</p> Susanne Moser, director of Susanne Moser Research and Consulting, addresses MIT’s second Symposium on Climate Change. In the background are Andrew Steer, president and CEO of the World Resources Institute, and Richard Schmalensee, the Howard W. Johnson Professor of Management and Professor of Economics Emeritus at the MIT Sloan School of Management, who moderated the panel discussions.Image: Bryce VickmarkSpecial events and guest speakers, ESI, MIT Energy Initiative, Climate, Climate change, Global Warming, Policy, Administration, Sustainability, Faculty, Environment Students present mechanical engineering projects that have global impact http://news.mit.edu/2019/students-present-mechanical-engineering-projects-have-global-impact-mit-mere-1029 At the sixth annual Mechanical Engineering Research Exhibition, graduate students and postdocs sharpen their communication and presentation skills. Tue, 29 Oct 2019 11:30:01 -0400 Mary Beth Gallagher | Department of Mechanical Engineering http://news.mit.edu/2019/students-present-mechanical-engineering-projects-have-global-impact-mit-mere-1029 <p>One event has become a hallmark of nearly every academic conference: the poster session. Posters summarizing research are tacked onto endless rows of bulletin boards. Leaders in any given field meander through the posters, asking presenters questions about their work on the spot. For junior researchers participating in poster sessions for the first time, the events can be daunting.</p> <p>The <a href="https://game.mit.edu/">Graduate Association of Mechanical Engineers</a> (GAME) and MIT’s <a href="http://meche.mit.edu/">Department of Mechanical Engineering</a> are working to remove the intimidation factor that surrounds poster sessions and presentations. For the sixth year in a row, they have organized the <a href="http://mere.mit.edu/">Mechanical Engineering Research Exhibition</a> (MERE), which was held on Oct. 11 in MIT’s student center. Over 60 graduate students, postdocs, and Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) students presented their research projects to nearly 200 attendees in a poster session-style event. The event was organized by graduate students Crystal Owens and Maytee Chantharayukhonthorn.</p> <p>“Providing students with a venue to practice presenting has been instrumental in boosting their confidence,” says Evelyn Wang, Gail E. Kendall Professor and department head in mechanical engineering. “Whether students pursue a career in academia, industry, or government, the ability to clearly communicate about their work will always be a crucial skill.”</p> <p>Nicholas Fang, professor of mechanical engineering and GAME faculty advisor, has seen these skills of technical communication improve in students who participate in MERE year-to-year. He also sees the event as a great introduction to MIT for first-year graduate students and undergrads who are considering graduate study at MIT.</p> <p>“Participation by first-year students is very important to this event,” he explains. “New students can’t take a seat in every single lab to learn about each other’s work, so MERE gives them the best opportunity to get to know the research in the department as a whole.”</p> <p>Mechanical engineering research across MIT is incredibly diverse and touches upon a wide swath of disciplines, but one common theme united the research presented at MERE — every project offered solutions and insights that could one day have tangible impact on a global scale.</p> <p><strong>Solutions in human health</strong></p> <p>Two examples of projects that could impact human health took different approaches to improving our understanding of brain cancer. Cynthia Hajal is using microfluidic chips to grow blood vessels that mimic the human brain. A PhD candidate working with Roger Kamm, Cecil and Ida Green Distinguished Professor of Biological and Mechanical Engineering, Hajal is using microfluidics to learn more about how cancer metastasizes in the brain.</p> <p>“The idea is to rebuild human organs outside of the body to track and test different diseases,” explains Hajal. To track and test brain cancer, Hajal and her team place cells taken from a human brain into microfluidic channels that are pumped with nutrients and serum. About seven days later, the cells self-assemble into brain capillaries. The research team then places tumor cells into the channels and tracks their progression over time.</p> <p>“Our process helps us image metastasis in short intervals of time so we can really slow down and find out what exactly is happening at every stage of the process,” Hajal adds.</p> <p>Ali Daher, meanwhile, uses mathematical modelling in the hopes of one day helping doctors determine the best course of treatment for glioblastoma multiforme brain tumors. “When a doctor is in the process of coming up with a treatment plan for the patient, they are faced with many challenges,” says Daher, a senior studying mechanical engineering.</p> <p>To help inform a doctor’s treatment plan, Daher is utilizing mathematical models to predict how a tumor might react to treatment plans. Using a reduced-order scheme developed for fluid systems by Pierre Lermusiaux, professor of mechanical engineering, Daher worked on an algorithm that could help doctors determine what therapies would be most effective.</p> <p><strong>Improving access to food and water</strong></p> <p>In addition to human health, another pervasive theme at MERE this year was how humans interact with the environment. Two projects in particular honed in on how we can improve access to food and water, especially in developing countries.</p> <p>Sonal Thengane, a postdoc working with Ahmed Ghoniem, the Ronald C. Crane (1972) Professor, is developing fertilizers made of carbon-rich biochar to improve soil quality and crop yield. Biochar is made by torrefying (drying with fire) waste from farms or forests. “When it is mixed into the soil, the biochar is very porous and retains the moisture and nutrients for a longer time,” says Thengane.</p> <p>Thengane’s work has already been tested on a farm in Kenya and will soon be tested in the United States and India with support from the Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security Lab (J-WAFS). He and his team have also explored the possibility of repurposing the debris from forest fires and logging residues, and using it in biochar-based soil. “We are also working in California, which has had so many forest fires recently,” he explains. “California has many farms that could benefit from this soil.”</p> <p>While Thengane is working on improving crop yield and increasing access to safer food, Hannah Varner is hoping to improve access to fresh water in India. A graduate student in MIT’s GEAR Lab, Varner is in the process of building a prototype system that desalinates brackish water in India.</p> <p>“Groundwater holds a lot of potential for solving the water crisis in places like India and the southwestern United States,” says Varner, who works with Associate Professor Amos Winter. The problem with groundwater is it often is brackish — containing too much salt to be potable. Utilizing modeling and an understanding of fluid dynamics and electrochemical processes, Varner was able to design a system for point-of-use desalination of brackish water in India.</p> <p>“The really exciting thing is I was able to design a system and then bring it to Bangalore this summer,” she says.</p> <p><strong>Award winners</strong></p> <p>Throughout MERE, participants like Varner spoke with judges who assessed their presentation skills. Awards were given to the following students:</p> <p>First-place presentations: Erin Looney for “Accelerating Cleantech Hardware System Development;” John San Soucie for “Gaussian dirichlet Random Fields For Inference Over High Dimensional Categorical Observations;” Nick Selby for “Teachbot : An Education System For Workforce;” and Meghan Huber for “Visual Perception Of Stiffness From Multijoint Motion”</p> <p>Best first-time presenter: Kuangye Lu for “Remote Epitaxy Of Gaas On Cvd Graphene For Wafer Re Usability And Flexible Electronics”</p> <p>Best UROP: Helen Read for “Fracture Toughness Of Polyacrylamide Hydrogels”</p> <p>Second-place runners-up include: Chinmay Kulkarni, Cynthia Hajal, Jongwoo Lee, Francesco Sigorato and Matteo Alberghini, Kiarash Gordiz, Nisha Chandramoorthy, Noam Buckman, Emily Rogers, and Sydney Sroka.</p> <p>The following presenters were given honorable mentions: James Hermus, Yeongin Kim, ZhiYi Liang, Lauren Chai, Sanghoon Bae, Antoine Blanchard, Rabab Haider, Scott Tan, and Jaewoo Shim.</p> <p><strong>Making your own luck</strong></p> <p>After the conclusion of the exhibition, Helen Greiner '89, SM '90 delivered a keynote speech. An innovator in the field of robotics, Greiner traced her career path in front of an audience filled with mechanical engineering students. Inspired by the Star Wars character R2D2, Greiner took an early interest in robotics. In 1990, she co-founded iRobot.</p> <p>After a decade of trial and error, iRobot found success with products such as the Roomba and PackBot. While the Roomba has cemented its place in popular culture, thanks in large part to a Pepsi advertisement featuring Dave Chappelle, the PackBot has made a huge impact on how military operations are executed.</p> <p>“These robots were credited with saving the lives of hundreds of soldiers and thousands of civilians,” Greiner recalls.</p> <p>Greiner encouraged students to “make their own luck.” With luck and determination, the students and postdocs who presented earlier in the day could someday see their products, designs, and theories have the kind of impact Greiner’s robot innovations have had.&nbsp;</p> Graduate students, postdocs, and undergraduate UROP students presented their research to members of the MIT community, alumni, and industry representatives at the sixth annual Mechanical Engineering Research Exhibition. Photo: Tony PulsoneMechanical engineering, School of Engineering, Biological engineering, Graduate, postdoctoral, Students, Education, teaching, academics, Community, Agriculture, Desalination, J-WAFS, Alumni/ae, Invention, Special events and guest speakers, Research Scene at MIT: Hockfield Court http://news.mit.edu/2019/scene-mit-hockfield-court-naming-1022 MIT’s North Court is now named after Susan Hockfield, MIT’s 16th president. Tue, 22 Oct 2019 00:00:00 -0400 MIT News Office http://news.mit.edu/2019/scene-mit-hockfield-court-naming-1022 <p>The scenic quad formerly known as North Court, one of the major gateways to campus from Main Street and Kendall Square, is now Hockfield Court, in honor of&nbsp;<a href="http://news.mit.edu/2012/hockfield-0216">Susan Hockfield</a>, who was president of MIT from 2004 to 2012.</p> <p>The new moniker was bestowed in an Oct. 4 ceremony celebrating Hockfield and her contributions to the Institute. As MIT’s&nbsp;<a href="https://hockfield.mit.edu/bio/about-president">16th president</a>, and the first woman to serve in the role as well as the first life scientist, Hockfield focused MIT’s strengths on a range of important problems, from cancer research to advanced manufacturing. She championed the convergence of the life sciences with the engineering and physical sciences, oversaw the establishment of the MIT Energy Initiative, and furthered MIT’s regional and global engagement, fostering the burgeoning&nbsp;Kendall Square innovation cluster, among other visionary initiatives.&nbsp;</p> <p>Hockfield, who continues to hold a faculty appointment as professor of neuroscience and a member of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, has also been a vocal advocate for making MIT a more diverse, inclusive, and welcoming environment.</p> <p>At the naming ceremony Hockfield reflected, "As the&nbsp;first woman and first&nbsp;life scientist&nbsp;to serve as president, I felt a particular responsibility for paving new paths and setting new directions&nbsp;that would be welcoming to all. ...&nbsp;I have confidence that MIT will continue to open, and hold open, new windows of opportunity, so that, as I said when I was first elected to MIT’s presidency, MIT can be the dream&nbsp;of&nbsp;<u>every</u>&nbsp;child who wants to make the world a better place ...&nbsp;and also the dream of&nbsp;<u>every</u>&nbsp;engineer, scientist, scholar, and artist who draws inspiration from the idea of working in a hotbed of innovation, in service to humankind.” &nbsp;</p> Hockfield Court is one of the major gateways to campus from Main Street and Kendall Square.Photo: Christopher HartingAdministration, Special events and guest speakers, Faculty, Koch Institute, Scene at MIT, Campus buildings and architecture At MIT, 268 take part in world&#039;s largest math competition for girls http://news.mit.edu/2019/mit-math-prize-for-girls-competition-1021 Now in its 11th year, the Math Prize for Girls has been hosted by MIT nine times. Mon, 21 Oct 2019 14:10:01 -0400 Fernanda Ferreira | School of Science http://news.mit.edu/2019/mit-math-prize-for-girls-competition-1021 <p>Three young women are throwing questions, rapid fire, at Ken Fan PhD ’95, the founder of Girl’s Angle, a non-profit mathematics club for girls.</p> <p>“Is it rational?”</p> <p>“No.”</p> <p>“Is it transcendental?”</p> <p>“Yes.”</p> <p>&nbsp;“Is it pi?”</p> <p>“No.”</p> <p>“Is it e?”</p> <p>“No.”</p> <p>&nbsp;“Is it some combination of pi and e?”</p> <p>“Too vague.”</p> <p>They’re trying to solve a collaborative puzzle created by Fan, and one of the steps involves asking him yes-or-no questions in order to figure out the number they need for the next step. After a few tries, they’ve got it (it’s -e/2), and they return to the rest of the group working to find the combination for the locked box that contains their prize. According to Fan, the prize is a bag of candy, but he hopes the girls will take something else away from the game: an understanding that math is collaborative and fun.</p> <p><strong>Playing 20 questions</strong></p> <p>The girls are some of the 268 middle and high school math enthusiasts who descended on campus the weekend of Oct. 12-13 for the Math Prize for Girls event. The mathematics competition, hosted at MIT for the ninth time, is the world’s largest math prize for young women high school age or younger. On Sunday, they settled into their seats to solve 20 math questions, but the night before they bonded over cake and games.</p> <p>Game night happened in the Lobdell Dining Hall in the Stratton Student Center (Building W20) with activities designed to integrate the contestants. At one end of the dining hall, Meena Boppana, a longtime volunteer of Math Prize, guided a speed-dating-style get-to-know-you station, in which contestants and alumnae of the program could become quickly acquainted. Throughout the hall, sitting at tables or on the floor, contestants put together red, 3D rhombic hexecontahedron puzzles, then stacked these into tall towers. At another station, Jeannine Mosely PhD ’84, a software engineer at Akamai Technologies, demonstrated how to create one of her curved-edge origami designs.</p> <p>For Maria De Vuono-Homberg, the associate director of Math Prize for Girls, the focus on community building is what makes this competition special. “Out of almost 300 girls, maybe 10 will get a trophy, another 25 will get an honorable mention, but that’s not why they’re here,” says De Vuono-Homberg. “They’re here to spend time together.”</p> <p>“I like it because it’s bringing together a lot of people with similar interests and backgrounds. And it’s all girls, which is not something you see all the time,” says one contestant from Canada. “When you think of how many different places these people are coming from, it’s just really nice,” she adds.</p> <p>According to De Vuono-Homberg, when contestants fill out the post-competition survey, they highlight the importance of being surrounded by people who share their love of math. And for her, that’s the whole point of the competition. “At Math Prize, your right to belong is never questioned,” says De Vuono-Homberg.</p> <p><strong>Growing a supportive network</strong></p> <p>Math Prize for Girls was started 11 years ago by Ravi Boppana PhD ’86, a research affiliate in the Department of Mathematics, and Arun Alagappan, the founder of Advantage Testing, to address the gender gap in math. Inspired by their daughters — Boppana has one (longtime volunteer Meena), and Alagappan has three — they created the competition to celebrate girls’ love of math and to build a community of alumnae that encourage women to pursue math. “Ravi and I founded Math Prize, knowing that as long as they were supported, women would persevere,” said Alagappan at the award ceremony.</p> <p>Justina Yang ’19, attended Math Prize for Girls for four years when she was in high school, but it was when she became an alumna volunteer that she realized the importance of the supportive network it builds. “Over the past few years, I’ve grown to really enjoy and value talking to people who come to Math Prize,” she says. For Yang, one of the reasons she continues to volunteer at Math Prize is the hope that she can be of use to the contestants, many of whom are applying to college and figuring out their next steps.</p> <p>Throughout the competition, the collaborative nature of math was highlighted. “We know that math is inherently collaborative,” says Alagappan, with breakthroughs coming from teams and through colleagues that help mathematicians approach problems in new ways. Giving the Maryam Mirzakhani Keynote Lecture — named in honor of Mirzakhani, the first woman to win the Fields Medal — Gigliola Staffilani, the Abby Rockefeller Mauze Professor of Mathematics, compared mathematical proofs to a pile of laundry. “When I look at a problem, it’s like a pile of laundry — it’s a mess,” she says. But as each small item is folded, the problem becomes clearer. “And then there are the big things, like sheets, for which you need help, and that involves collaboration,” Staffilani explains.</p> <p>After Staffilani’s keynote lecture, the top 10 awards were listed. The first prize, with 14 out of 20 questions answered correctly, went to Jessica Wan, an 8th grader from Puerto Rico, who also received the Youth Prize, which is awarded to the highest-scoring contestant in 9th grade and below. A full list of the winners and honorable mentions can be found at the <a href="https://artofproblemsolving.com/community/c132h1933690_math_prize_2019_award_winners">Art of Problem Solving website</a>.</p> <p>As contestants collected their bags and said their goodbyes, the words of Emma Kerwin ’19, Math Girls alumna and awards ceremony emcee, went with them: “We are proud of you, we believe in you, and we truly expect great things from you.”&nbsp;</p> Winners of the 11th Math Prize for Girls, including first-prize winner 8th grader Jessica Wan, stand with Arun Algappan, founder of Advantage Testing (far left) and MIT Professor Gigliola Staffilani (far right)Photo: Fernanda FerreiraSchool of Science, Mathematics, Special events and guest speakers, Women in STEM, K-12 education, STEM education, Diversity and inclusion, Contests and academic competitions Fireside chat with Don Eigler wraps up MIT.nano “Perspectives in Nanotechnology” seminars http://news.mit.edu/2019/don-eigler-conversation-concludes-mitnano-perspectives-nanotechnology-seminars-1021 Series featured five experts who played seminal roles in understanding the nanoscale. Mon, 21 Oct 2019 12:55:01 -0400 Amanda Stoll | MIT.nano http://news.mit.edu/2019/don-eigler-conversation-concludes-mitnano-perspectives-nanotechnology-seminars-1021 <p>On Sept. 16 MIT.nano hosted an informal public conversation with physicist Don Eigler, Kavli Laureate and former fellow of the IBM Almaden Research Center. The conversation marked the fifth and final event in the MIT.nano “Perspectives in Nanotechnology” seminar series, which began in the spring.</p> <p>Eigler was the founding leader of the Low Temperature Scanning Tunneling Microscopy Project at IBM. Among his accomplishments, he is recognized for his 1989 experiment in which he became the first person to manipulate individual atoms with precision, using a scanning tunneling microscope to spell out “I-B-M” from 35 individual xenon atoms. He is also known for creating the first quantum corrals.&nbsp;</p> <p>“Nature is not boring. If as an experimentalist you invent something that allows you to see something no one has seen before, you will find something interesting,” he told an audience of faculty, graduate students, alumni, and others.</p> <p>Following the conversation, MIT.nano and the Graduate Student Council hosted an exhibition featuring microscopy artwork by the MIT community.</p> <p>Organized by Farnaz Niroui, MIT assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science, the “Perspectives in Nanotechnology” series featured a set of five lectures by experts who offered insight into current research and future directions based on their experiences in the field of nanoscience and nanotechnology.&nbsp;</p> <p>“This series was a great way to introduce MIT.nano&nbsp;not just as a nanoscale research facility, but as a place where we can have&nbsp;discussions around nanoscience and its different applications across disciplines within our community,” says Niroui. “Having these five pioneers&nbsp;talk about their research trajectories, and where they see the field of nanotechnology going in the future, has been inspiring.”​</p> <p>The first four speakers in the series were:</p> <p><strong>March 18: </strong><strong>Roger Howe of Stanford University</strong></p> <p>Roger Howe is the William E. Ayer Professor of Engineering at Stanford University. He was the faculty director of the Stanford Nanofabrication Facility from 2009 to 2017 and director of the National Science Foundation’s National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network from 2011 to 2015.</p> <p>For the first presentation in the series, Howe discussed “the role that shared academic nano facilities, such as nano@Stanford and MIT.nano, can play in nucleating the tools and processes, as well as the community of internal and external researchers, that can accelerate the commercialization of nanotechnology.”</p> <p><strong>April 29: Paul Alivisatos of the University of California at Berkeley</strong></p> <p>Paul&nbsp;Alivisatos is the University of California at Berkeley's executive vice chancellor and provost, and Samsung Distinguished Professor of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. He is also the director emeritus of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, founding director of the Kavli Energy Nanoscience Institute, and a founder of two prominent nanotechnology companies.</p> <p>In his talk, Alivisatos discussed his research on colloidal nanocrystals, one of the several artificial building blocks&nbsp;for nanoscience and nanotechnology. He reflected on the question, “What will happen when artificial nanocrystals can be observed and controlled at the level of single atoms?”</p> <p><strong>May 16: </strong><strong>Eli Yablonovitch of the University of California at Berkeley</strong></p> <p>Eli Yablonovitch is a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at UC Berkeley, where he holds the James and Katherine Lau Chair in Engineering. Regarded as a father of the photonic bandgap concept, Yablonovitch coined the term "photonic crystal" and has significantly contributed to the fields of strained semiconductor lasers and photovoltaics.&nbsp;</p> <p>Yablonovitch is the director of the National Science Foundation Center for Energy Efficient Electronics Science, a multi-university center headquartered at Berkeley. For his perspectives presentation, he addressed the question, "What new device will replace the transistor?"</p> <p><strong>June 19: Robert Langer of MIT</strong></p> <p>Robert Langer is the David H. Koch Institute Professor at MIT. Author of more than 1,250 articles, he also has nearly 1,050 patents worldwide. He is the most-cited engineer in history.</p> <p>In a presentation entitled, “From Microtechnology to Nanotechnology: New Ways to Discover and Deliver Medicine to Treat Disease,” Langer addressed the numerous new technologies being developed that may impact the future of medicine.</p> <p>MIT.nano and Niroui will now kick off a continuing monthly seminar series exploring the frontiers of nanoscience and nanotechnology. For more information, visit <a href="http://mitnano.mit.edu">mitnano.mit.edu</a>.</p> Roger Howe, William E. Ayer Professor of Engineering, Stanford University (center), with Farnaz Niroui, assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science and Perspectives in Nanotechnology series organizer (left), and Vladimir Bulović, faculty director of MIT.nano and Fariborz Maseeh Chair in Emerging Technology (right). Photo: Tom Gearty/MIT.nanoMIT.nano, Electrical engineering and computer science (EECS), School of Engineering, Nanoscience and nanotechnology, Research Laboratory of Electronics, Microsystems Technology Laboratories, Special events and guest speakers Economist Stanley Fischer calls for autonomy in central banking http://news.mit.edu/2019/economist-stanley-fischer-1016 In MIT talk, the former vice chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve reflects on his career as a policy leader. Wed, 16 Oct 2019 14:05:03 -0400 Peter Dizikes | MIT News Office http://news.mit.edu/2019/economist-stanley-fischer-1016 <p>Former U.S. Federal Reserve vice chair Stanley Fischer PhD ’69 emphasized the importance of independence in central banking, while outlining key aspects of his own career as a policy leader, in an MIT lecture on Sept. 30.</p> <p>“Should a central bank be independent? The answer is yes,” Fischer said, emphasizing the need for policymakers to have maximum flexibility to determine interest rates while grappling with complex economic situations.</p> <p>Specifically regarding the U.S., Fischer noted, “We are the country with the highest interest rate in the G7, because our economy is in the best shape.” For that reason, he observed, the U.S. has the most leverage to address future economic slowdowns — but would still need to be judicious about it.</p> <p>“We need to be careful not to let the system degenerate” and head too quickly toward a zero interest rate, Fischer said, which would then likely limit room for the Federal Reserve to spur the economy by lowering rates at a future point when it might be more useful.</p> <p>Fischer noted that current uncertainty surrounding U.S. economic conditions is considerable. Fears of a recession have lessened in the last two months, he said, but the gains of recent years were not automatically going to continue.&nbsp;</p> <p>“We’re not guaranteed to have a recession, but we’re not guaranteed to not have a recession,” he said.</p> <p>In his remarks, Fischer added that the Fed’s supervisory role in the banking system was vital, and suggested that the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial-sector legislation — which provided additional banking oversight and limited some forms of banking activity — should be fully enforced.</p> <p>“The regulations have been eased back,” Fischer said. “I think that’s a mistake.”</p> <p>Fischer was an MIT economics professor from 1976 to 1998 and built an influential career in global monetary policy after leaving the Institute. Besides being vice chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve, from 2014 to 2017, where he worked with then-chair Janet Yellen, Fischer served as governor of the Bank of Israel from 2005 to 2013; first deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) from 1994 to 2001; and chief economist of the World Bank from 1988 to 1990.</p> <p>Fischer is a native of Zambia, who attended school in multiple countries before working across the world professionally. Still, he told the audience, when people ask him what he considers to be his home, “I say, and I mean it, MIT.”</p> <p>Fischer’s talk was delivered to a standing-room-only audience of over 125 people in MIT’s lecture hall 1-190. The event was jointly sponsored by MIT’s Undergraduate Economics Association and the Finance and Policy Club of the MIT Sloan School of Management.</p> <p>Fischer was introduced by James A. Poterba, the Mitsui Professor of Economics at MIT, who called Fischer a “remarkably effective policymaker” and “an incredibly thoughtful and informed source of wisdom about how to think through policy challenges.”</p> <p>At MIT, Poterba added, Fischer made his mark “not just as a stellar researcher, but as one of the absolute clearest teachers and most successful mentors of graduate students and undergraduates alike.” Poterba added that Fischer was known for the quality of his lectures in MIT’s course 14.02 (Principles of Macroeconomics): “People used to hang from the rafters just to get into Stan’s 14.02 lectures.”</p> <p>Fischer was also the principal PhD thesis adviser of Ben Bernanke PhD ’79, chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve from 2006 to 2014.</p> <p>In his remarks, Fischer also talked about gender issues in central banking. He noted that Yellen, whom he called an “excellent economist,” would prepare intensively for four or five days ahead of public Fed meetings. After a while, he suggested to Yellen that her performance would be equally good with less prep time, noting her strong record of the last two years. However, Yellen told him, “I’ve always done that. I’ve always prepared absolutely fully.” In part, Fischer suggested, Yellen thought the attention she might draw for a public misstatement, as the first woman to chair the Fed, would be considerable.</p> <p>Fischer later raised the subject with Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, who will become next chair of the European Central Bank in November and had a similar perspective. As Fischer recalled, Lagarde told him, “You men simply don’t understand the pressure that is on women in the public sector. We know if we make a mistake, we will be fried. Whereas if a man makes a mistake, no one gets very excited.”</p> <p>Fischer also talked in some detail about his work as governor of the Bank of Israel — equivalent to the role of Fed chair — where he introduced a monetary policy committee, among other reforms intended to diffuse the governor’s power.</p> <p>The idea, Fischer said, “was to precisely change the model of the single decision-maker.” By intentionally giving himself less power, he added, jokingly, “I was very idealistic, or stupid, or both.” But he felt the change would align Israel with the practice of allowing more voices into the process of setting rates — where a lot of information must be processed and multiple interpretations of data can arise, making extensive discussion useful.</p> <p>Expanding the Bank of Israel’s administration required some additional investment, Fischer noted, drawing laughs by observing, “What you can’t say as a central banker is, ‘We don’t have the money.’ [In fact,] you have all the money you can print.”</p> <p>In Israel, Fischer faced unusual economic conditions: Israel made it through the financial crisis relatively unscathed but faced a resulting inflow of global capital and had to work to keep economic conditions relatively stable. He assessed his own performance in the job as “pretty good.”</p> <p>Fischer said he thought Yellen’s Fed had been “very successful” at its postcrash efforts at normalization, and noted that its leaders, including himself, spent a significant amount of time examing the prospect of interest rates hitting the “Zero Lower Bound,” beyond which they would become negative. Fischer said he was “stunned” there was not more general public discussion about that issue at the moment.</p> <p>Noting that he had taken on the governorship of the Bank of Israel with a list of 15 policy goals to accomplish, Fischer also offered some career advice to the audience members, most of whom were MIT students: “If you take a job, it’s a good idea to decide what you want to do there.”</p> Stanley FischerImage: Zach WinnSchool of Humanities Arts and Social Sciences, Economics, Students, Undergraduate, Special events and guest speakers, Policy, Alumni/ae, Global Experts urge “full speed ahead” on climate action http://news.mit.edu/2019/first-climate-symposium-gobal-warming-1003 Panelists at MIT climate change symposium describe the state of knowledge in climate science and stress the urgent need for action. Thu, 03 Oct 2019 17:10:12 -0400 David L. Chandler | MIT News Office http://news.mit.edu/2019/first-climate-symposium-gobal-warming-1003 <p>In the first of <a href="https://climate.mit.edu/symposia">six symposia</a> planned at MIT this academic year on the subject of climate change, panels of specialists on the science of global climate described the state of knowledge on the subject today. They also discussed the areas where more research is needed to pin down exactly how severely and quickly climate change’s effects may occur, and what kinds of actions are urgently needed to address the enormous disruptions climate change will bring.</p> <p>Keynote speaker Susan Solomon, the Lee and Geraldine Martin Professor of Environmental Studies and Chemistry, gave an overview of the state of climate science today, explaining that the vastness of the timescales involved “is one of the things that makes this problem so fascinating.” However, she added, it also presents a real challenge in communicating the urgency of the issue, because carbon dioxide emissions being produced now can persist in the air for centuries, with their effects building over time.</p> <p>Even if the world were to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions at today’s level, the temperature would continue to rise, and sea level would continue to rise even more, she said. Anywhere from 50 to 100 percent of the expected temperature increase from a given amount of carbon dioxide “is in the pipeline,” she said, because it takes time for the changed atmosphere and oceans to reach a new state of equilibrium: “The temperature stabilizes after a few hundred years, but the sea level just keeps going and going.”</p> <p>She said “it’s sobering to take a look at the 25 warmest years that have been recorded, and realize that if you’re 32, you’ve been alive for all of them. We, this generation of people, are living on the warmest planet that has ever been measured in the environmental record.” And that increase is something we’re stuck with, she said. “Even if we go cold turkey” and eliminate all greenhouse gas emissions, “temperatures go almost constant for 1,000 years. The cumulative carbon dioxide that’s been emitted is what controls it.”</p> <p>The symposium, which drew a capacity crowd to MIT’s Kresge Auditorium, was chaired by Kerry Emanuel, the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Atmospheric Science, and featured two panels of leading climate scientists who described the state of present knowledge about the effects and extent of climate change, remaining uncertainties and how to address them, and how the physical effects of warming may vary under different policy approaches.</p> <p>MIT President L. Rafael Reif, in <a href="http://news.mit.edu/2019/climate-symposium-president-reif-1002">introducing</a> the first of the six planned symposia, said, “I believe that, as a society, we must find ways to invest aggressively in advancing climate science and in making climate mitigation and adaptation technologies dramatically less expensive: inexpensive enough to win widespread political support, to be affordable for every society, and to deploy on a planetary scale.”</p> <p>Reif added that one way to foster that would be through a tax on carbon, which “will keep pushing prices [of renewables] down and make noncarbon alternatives more attractive. That is clearly true. Less clear, however, is whether the carbon-cost hammer is enough to drive the nail of global societal change.” Continued progress with noncarbon or low-carbon alternatives is also essential, he said.</p> <p>While the picture of human-induced global climate change is well-established overall, in one of the panel discussions Ray Pierrehumbert, a professor of physics at Oxford University, described some the remaining sources of uncertainty. The greatest source of uncertainty, he said, lies in some of the complex feedback effects that may occur, especially involving clouds.</p> <p>Clouds reflect sunlight and therefore provide some cooling, but also are insulating and so help keep the surface warm. Their dynamics are highly complex, “involving interactions between things at the scale of millimeters up to thousands of kilometers.” As a result, “one reason we don’t know how bad it’s going to get is because of clouds,” Pierrehumbert said.</p> <p>But that uncertainty is no cause for complacency. “It’s extremely unlikely that there is some mystical effect that would make things better” than present projections, he said. Rather, “it’s quite possible things would be worse.”</p> <p>Tapio Schneider, a professor of environmental science at Caltech, added that the uncertainties about clouds include how they are affected by air pollution, which provides nucleation centers for water droplets. These interactions are complicated to model, but “it seems that some of these aerosol effects are stronger than expected.” That may mean that overall warming could be greater than expected, he said.</p> <p>Paul O’Gorman, an MIT professor of atmospheric science, said that it’s important to look at how the effects of a warming atmosphere will vary depending on local conditions. “Some countries will see larger monsoons,” he said, for example in India, where rainfall could actually double in some regions because of changes in atmospheric circulation patterns. “There are a lot of outstanding questions” in the details of these changes, and the answers could be crucial for regional planning.</p> <p>Pierrehumbert added that while nations have made commitments to try to limit global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius, that is a somewhat arbitrary cap. “Even if we don’t think we can halt warming at two degrees, we need to go full speed ahead” on curbing emissions. “Things will be horrible at two degrees, but much more horrible at four degrees.”</p> <p>Maria Zuber, MIT’s vice president for research, chaired the second panel discussion and said this series of symposia is intended as a way “to both educate and engage the MIT community” in the issue of climate change and “how we dial it up” in efforts to combat the problem.</p> <p>Sherri Goodman, a senior fellow at the Wilson Center, described the impact of climate change on military facilities and overall military readiness. “It’s a threat multiplier,” she said. “It will amplify and aggravate in different ways our national security challenges,” she said.</p> <p>For example, the opening of the Arctic ocean because of melting sea ice is creating a whole new area of conflicting interests, where both Russia and China have been making moves to control the region’s potential resources, from shipping lanes to petroleum reserves.</p> <p>Philip Duffy, president of the Woods Hole Research Center, described his work in providing corporations with detailed information about the specific local impacts they can expect at their facilities as a result of climate change. Climate change may be a multiplier of risks in that context as well, he added, citing regional conflicts and outmigration resulting from droughts and other effects.</p> <p>John Reilly, co-director of the Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, also stressed that regardless of any remaining uncertainties in the details of climate change’s effects, “it doesn’t mean we should wait until the science is resolved. Actually, we need the opposite effect.” If there is a whole range of possible outcomes, it’s important to take very seriously “the really extreme and catastrophic effects.” Among the range of possible outcomes indicated by climate models, without concerted action, climate change “could make huge parts of the planet uninhabitable. Even if that probability is very small, that can dominate the entire cost-benefit calculation,” he said.</p> Susan Solomon, the Lee and Geraldine Martin Professor of Environmental Studies and Chemistry at MIT, delivered the symposium's keynote address.Image: Jake BelcherMIT Energy Initiative, Climate, Climate change, Special events and guest speakers, Global Warming, Policy, Faculty, President L. Rafael Reif, Administration, ESI, Sustainability MIT Solve selects 2019 cohort of tech entrepreneurs http://news.mit.edu/2019/mit-solve-selects-2019-cohort-tech-entrepreneurs-1001 At Solve Challenge Finals in New York, judges selected 32 innovators, and Solve announces $1.5 million in prize funding. Tue, 01 Oct 2019 17:00:01 -0400 Claire Crowther | MIT Solve http://news.mit.edu/2019/mit-solve-selects-2019-cohort-tech-entrepreneurs-1001 <p>On Sept. 22, 61 entrepreneurs traveled from 22 countries around the world to attend <a href="https://solve.mit.edu/events/solve-challenge-finals-2019" target="_blank">Solve Challenge Finals</a> in New York and pitch their solutions to Solve’s 2019 Global Challenges: Circular Economy, Community-Driven Innovation, Early Childhood Development, and Healthy Cities.&nbsp;</p> <p>These innovators pitched everything from a compact waste-evaporating toilet to an online marketplace for businesses to buy and sell unused textiles. After a busy day packed with pitches and hours of deliberation, judges selected eight from each challenge to form the 2019 Solver Class, including:</p> <ul> <li><a href="https://solve.mit.edu/articles/meet-the-solver-teams-introducing-the-circular-economy-solver-class">Circular Economy Solver teams</a>;</li> <li><a href="https://solve.mit.edu/articles/meet-the-solver-teams-introducing-our-8-community-driven-innovators">Community-Driven Innovation Solver teams</a>;</li> <li><a href="http://solve.mit.edu/articles/meet-the-solver-teams-introducing-our-early-childhood-development-teams">Early Childhood Development Solver teams</a>; and</li> <li><a href="https://solve.mit.edu/articles/meet-the-solver-teams-introducing-our-8-healthy-cities-innovators">Healthy Cities Solver teams</a>.</li> </ul> <p>Solve also announced <a href="https://solve.mit.edu/articles/mit-solve-announces-new-solver-class-of-32-tech-entrepreneurs-solving-global-challenges">$1.5 million in prize funding</a> for these Solver teams. A selection of highlights follows, and an <a href="http://solve.mit.edu/events/solve-challenge-finals-2019" target="_blank">archived livestream</a> is available.</p> <p>In the opening plenary session, “Bridging the SDG Innovation Gap,” XPRIZE CEO Anousheh Ansari and Conservation International CEO M. Sanjayan spoke about sourcing, supporting, and scaling innovation to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs).&nbsp;</p> <p>Ansari explained that some solutions can be more relevant in certain geographies and contexts. Sanjayan agreed, saying, “While we have ever-more information and access to amazing individuals and a diversity of ideas, there is still a strong bias toward a single solution.”&nbsp;</p> <p>He described a meeting he once facilitated with a group of young people from the United States and top leaders dealing with elephant ivory poaching in Africa. “We were meeting with people who had spent their entire lives protecting elephants,” he said. “This young group was telling those folks how they should do things. It was astonishing to watch. Not that their ideas were bad, but at least have the humility to say, there’s context here.” Without that context, he added, these solutions are unlikely to work.</p> <p>Both Ansari and Sanjayan agreed that to achieve the SDGs by 2030, we’ll need context-focused tech breakthroughs, and both behavioral and policy changes.</p> <p>To kick off the closing plenary, “Inclusive Innovation and Entrepreneurship,” artist Zaria Forman wowed the audience with stunning photographs of her pastel drawings. By capturing glaciers and other natural wonders in the wake of climate change, she seeks to “convey the beauty of these places instead of the devastation.” Forman prefers to focus on positive change. And with all the negative news around climate change, she “celebrates what is still here.”&nbsp;</p> <p>This optimistic presentation provided an excellent introduction to a conversation around corporate social and environmental responsibility. Vijay Vaitheeswaran '90 of <em>The Economist</em> and Jesper Brodin, president and CEO of Ingka Group (IKEA), discussed IKEA’s mission to “create a better daily life for the people.”&nbsp;</p> <p>IKEA is at the forefront of innovation for sustainability, and much of the conversation focused on the company’s commitment to climate action. Brodin explained that IKEA products now require sustainable design principles, ensuring they can be broken down into raw materials.&nbsp;</p> <p>Bringing the conversation back to technology, Emi Mahmoud, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees goodwill ambassador and award-winning slam poet, performed a powerful poem about access to technology. She emphasized that access to technology is no longer a privilege — it is a right.&nbsp;</p> <p>“Technology can restore the dignity of people. It changes our approach to aid and change-making so that it’s more about upward mobility, giving people something that they can run with — not just depend on.”</p> <p>The final discussion of the closing plenary featured Fred Swaniker, founder of the African Leadership Group, and Monique Idlett, founder and managing partner of Reign Ventures, and centered on building a more inclusive innovation ecosystem.</p> <p>Swaniker, whose programs develop emerging leaders in Africa, reflected on his time studying at Stanford University. He wondered, “Was there anything special about the air or water in Silicon Valley? Why is it that all this innovation comes out of there?”</p> <p>“The only difference is that they give a 16-year-old kid with an idea a chance,” Swaniker says. “The same brilliant kids with game-changing ideas are in Africa. The only difference is that no one is giving them a chance.” This, he says, is the goal of the African Leadership Academy.</p> <p>At Reign Ventures, Idlett takes this chance on promising startups. She aims to build a portfolio that “reflects the world,” ensuring that it has gender, racial, and industry diversity. When it comes to scaling these startups, Idlett says the art of collaboration is undervalued.&nbsp;</p> <p>“We don’t have to do this alone,” she explains. “As a founder, CEO, or investor, it’s really important that you find a community that can support you and that you can build together with.”</p> <p>Swaniker says the African Leadership Academy offers this support to its emerging leaders. Its learning model is very hands-on and emphasizes “learning by doing.” The academy then connects talent to opportunity — the networks, partnerships, and investment they need. “That’s the ecosystem,” he says. “Select the top talent, develop it, and then connect it.”</p> <p>The 2019 Solver Class will spend the next nine months working closely with Solve to scale their solutions through partnerships built with the Solve community.</p> <div></div> Solve Challenge Finals took place in New York City Image: Matt Mateiescu/MIT SolveSolve, Environment, Health, Learning, Community, Global, International development, Special events and guest speakers, Startups MIT Sounding 2019-20 explores far-reaching musical frontiers http://news.mit.edu/2019/mit-sounding-explores-far-reaching-musical-frontiers-0927 This season of musical performances features a range of Boston premieres and diverse collaborations. Fri, 27 Sep 2019 15:20:01 -0400 Connie Blaszczyk | Arts at MIT http://news.mit.edu/2019/mit-sounding-explores-far-reaching-musical-frontiers-0927 <p>Now in its eighth year, <a href="https://arts.mit.edu/cast/performances/sounding-2019-20/">2019-20 </a><a href="https://arts.mit.edu/cast/performances/sounding-2019-20/" target="_blank">MIT Sounding</a> presents another season of wide-ranging musical offerings that have found a vibrant home at MIT.</p> <p>“The program feeds the hunger of a diverse audience for music at MIT,” says <a href="https://arts.mit.edu/evan-ziporyn/">Evan Ziporyn</a>, faculty director of the MIT Center for Art, Science and Technology (CAST) and curator of the series. “We try to give students a sense of exploration, while also developing a larger-scale dialogue with local audiences.”&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>The eclectic journey continues with Boston premieres of music from New York, Czechia, and Nepal, as well as returning artists who have wowed local audiences and who continue to push new musical boundaries. Add a septet of turntable artists, a multimedia score by Tod Machover, and a virtual reality-enhanced, dataset-driven “space opera” by artist Matthew Ritchie, and you have an abundant season of MIT Sounding.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Glenn Branca: New York’s enfant terrible&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>The year started with a bang with “<a href="https://arts.mit.edu/cast/performances/sounding-2019-20/#branca-lives-the-glenn-branca-ensemble-ambient-orchestra">Branca Lives</a>: The Glenn Branca Ensemble/Ambient Orchestra," an all-too-rare performance of music by the proto-punk legend, who passed away in 2018.</p> <p>“Branca’s symphonies for multiple guitars — sometimes up to 100 at a time — were Brutalism in musical form,” says Ziporyn. “He embraced the energy of noise, distortion, and feedback, but in a carefully organized way, activating overtones and microtones to create amazing, almost hallucinogenic textures. He was thinking orchestrally, building out from the sound of the electric guitar rather than from classical instruments. Then he began to write for acoustic orchestra and found ways to get the same effects.”</p> <p>“Branca Lives"<em> </em>presents the composer’s eponymous guitar ensemble, led by his longtime concertmaster and collaborator, Reg Bloor. Their set will include Branca’s “The Light (for David),” a tribute to David Bowie. Ziporyn and the Ambient Orchestra will open the concert with Boston premieres of two of Branca’s rarely performed orchestral works — “Symphony No. 14 (2,000,000,000 Light Years from Home)” and<em> </em>“Freeform.”</p> <p>“It’s brilliant and surprising music that deserves to be known,” adds Ziporyn.</p> <p><strong>Lochan Rijal shares music of Nepal</strong></p> <p>Despite an ever-shrinking global culture, many musical traditions remain overlooked, including the music of Nepal. “<a href="https://arts.mit.edu/cast/performances/sounding-2019-20/#lochan-rijals-%e0%a4%95%e0%a4%be%e0%a4%81%e0%a4%9a%e0%a5%8b-%e0%a4%86%e0%a4%b5%e0%a4%be%e0%a4%9c-raw-sounds">काँचो आवाज (</a><a href="https://arts.mit.edu/cast/performances/sounding-2019-20/#lochan-rijals-%e0%a4%95%e0%a4%be%e0%a4%81%e0%a4%9a%e0%a5%8b-%e0%a4%86%e0%a4%b5%e0%a4%be%e0%a4%9c-raw-sounds">Raw Sounds</a>),” a program that celebrates Nepal’s unique musical heritage, seeks to address that oversight.</p> <p>“काँचो आवाज (Raw Sounds)” features Lochan Rijal, the award-winning Nepali multi-instrumentalist singer and songwriter, performing new and traditional compositions based on his own musical narrative of everyday life in Nepal. The head of Kathmandu University’s Department of Music, Rijal will play the sarangi, a traditional short-necked fiddle, and the Gandharva lute arbaja, recently discovered in Rijal’s research in Nepal.&nbsp;</p> <p>During his residency, Rijal will discuss a temple restoration project and Nepal’s musical traditions in a public lecture.</p> <p><strong>Iva Bittová with MITSO</strong></p> <p>Legendary Czech vocalist/violinist Iva Bittová is a familiar force of nature at MIT, having performed with the improvisational trio <a href="https://arts.mit.edu/artists/eviyan/#about-the-residency">EVIYAN</a>, and collaborated with the Festival Jazz Ensemble and Pilobolus Dance for MIT One World.</p> <p>Bittová returns this October as composer to launch the MIT Symphony Orchestra’s (MITSO) 2019-20 season in “<a href="https://arts.mit.edu/cast/performances/sounding-2019-20/#the-heart-is-a-bell-iva-bittova-with-the-mit-symphony-orchestra">The Heart is a Bell</a>.” The concert pairs two pieces by 20th century Czech female composers: Bittová’s “Zvon” and Vítězslava Kapralova’s “Suita Rustica.” Composed 75 years apart, both works draw on Czech and Slovak folk culture, seen through a modern lens.</p> <p>At once personal and avant-garde, “Zvon” features Bittova’s voice, jazz combo, elements of world music and cabaret, and improvisation by members of the orchestra. “We’re widening the orchestral landscape,” says Ziporyn, who steps in as acting MITSO director this academic year.</p> <p><strong>Additional projects and performances</strong></p> <p>What happens when seven DJs gather, challenged to make music together rather than as solo acts? Audiences will find out this January, in&nbsp;“<a href="https://arts.mit.edu/cast/performances/sounding-2019-20/#the-wave-function-collapses">the wave function collapses</a>.” The unique program features harbanger<em> </em>(pronounced “harbinger”), a turntable septet with visiting artists Harry Allen and DJ Rob Swift, known for their work with Public Enemy and <em>The Source</em> magazine. “The wave function collapses”<strong><em> </em></strong>is the culmination of a two-week workshop facilitated by Eran Egozy, professor of the practice in music technology at MIT and co-founder and CTO of Harmonix Music Systems. The 2020 Independent Activities Period (IAP) offering includes two courses: a history of DJ culture by hip hop activist and “Media Assassin” Harry Allen, and hands-on DJ instruction by DJ Rob Swift.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Virtuoso violinist Johnny Gandelsman performed Johann Sebastian Bach’s "Sonatas and Partitas" as part of MIT Sounding’s 2015 season. The adventurous soloist returns this spring to perform “<a href="https://arts.mit.edu/cast/performances/sounding-2019-20/#johnny-gandelsmans-bach-cello-suites-for-violin-solo">Bach’s Cello Suites</a>” on the violin — which can be challenging, given the two instruments’ very different voicings. But this isn’t reinvention for its own sake, says Ziporyn. It’s simply “to get the most from the music, in an enthralling way.”&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>This March brings composer Tod Machover’s "City Symphonies" to Boston for the first time. Rich in visuals and sense of place, “<a href="https://arts.mit.edu/cast/performances/sounding-2019-20/#moving-images-mitso-film">Moving Images: MITSO and Film</a>” is part of the MIT Symphony Orchestra’s 2019-20 season. “It’s time to present this music on Tod’s home turf,” notes Ziporyn, who will conduct the ensemble. Audiences can expect a unique evening of music and film, including work developed by Machover and his team in the <a href="https://opera-beta.media.mit.edu/">Opera of the Future</a> group at the <a href="https://www.media.mit.edu/">MIT Media Lab</a>.</p> <p>The season closes with a new transmedia work, “The Invisible College,” created by 2018–20 Dasha Zhukova Distinguished Visiting Artist <a href="https://arts.mit.edu/artists/matthew-ritchie/">Matthew Ritchie</a>. The project refers to the multitude of interactions and collaborations that take place behind the scenes within the university, and brings together a multidisciplinary team of MIT artists, faculty, and students. Based on datasets representing scales of the universe — from nanoparticles to dark energy —<em> </em>“The Invisible College” encompasses a site-specific installation, virtual reality experience, and a May&nbsp;“<a href="https://arts.mit.edu/cast/performances/sounding-2019-20/#dark-energy-a-space-opera">Dark Energy: A Space Opera</a>,” a collaboration between Ritchie, Ziporyn, and Christine Southworth.</p> The first concert of MIT Sounding for 2019-20 was "The Music of Glenn Branca Live: Glenn Branca Ensemble/Ambient Orchestra." Pictured are Reg Bloor and Glenn Branca.Photo: Maria Jose GouveaCenter for Art, Science and Technology, Media Lab, School of Humanities Arts and Social Sciences, Music and theater arts, Arts, Music, Special events and guest speakers, School of Architecture and Planning HubWeek 2019 celebrates five years of connecting MIT, Boston, and the world http://news.mit.edu/2019/hubweek-2019-0927 Greater Boston’s annual festival of ideas finds new avenues for celebrating and connecting innovators. Fri, 27 Sep 2019 10:01:59 -0400 Jonathan Mingle | MIT News correspondent http://news.mit.edu/2019/hubweek-2019-0927 <p>HubWeek’s Fall Festival is back for its fifth installment. From Oct. 1 to 3, more than 50 speakers and dozens of curated experiences will take center stage in Boston’s Seaport neighborhood, as part of Greater Boston’s annual festival of ideas, arts, technology, and innovation.</p> <p>After five years of startup pitch competitions and innovation challenges, policy “hackathons” and interactive conversations with change makers both seasoned and just starting out, HubWeek has succeeded beyond its planners’ dreams.</p> <p>“HubWeek has always been about the idea that the future is being created here, at the intersection of art, science, and technology,” says Kathleen Kennedy, formerly director of special projects at MIT and now executive director of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence. “We wanted to elevate that message and celebrate the people that are architecting the future.”</p> <p>Kennedy has been helping to guide the gathering’s evolution since 2014, when MIT joined Harvard University, Massachusetts General Hospital, and <em>The Boston Globe</em> to jointly launch the festival, which has since become a widely anticipated fixture on the city’s calendar.</p> <p>Their premise was that Boston’s role as one of the world’s great hubs of creative problem-solving, entrepreneurship, and intellectual exploration deserved a dedicated spotlight. Their objective was to highlight and connect the people who power the city’s innovation ecosystem.</p> <p>A diverse roster of thinkers and doers from the MIT community has been deeply involved in HubWeek programming from the start, and this year is no different.</p> <p>On Oct. 2, Ariel Ekblaw, founding director of the MIT Media Lab’s <a href="https://www.media.mit.edu/groups/space-exploration/overview/">Space Exploration Initiative</a>, will describe her groundbreaking work developing self-assembling space habitat prototypes as part of “Bodies in Space,” a panel discussion on the future of space exploration. Another event will feature a discussion of the latest advances in robotics with Professor Russ Tedrake, who heads the <a href="https://www.csail.mit.edu/research/robot-locomotion-group">Robot Locomotion Group</a> at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.</p> <p>This year’s iteration also represents an evolution of HubWeek’s novel approach to civic engagement: It has grown from one discrete, ideas-packed week into a series of conversations spread throughout the year.</p> <p>A key feature of HubWeek has long been its “Open Doors” events. As part of this series over the years, MIT has welcomed the broader public into many of its signature ventures and programs.</p> <p>Now, “Open Doors” events take place throughout the year. Each month it moves to a different neighborhood. These gatherings function like a roving town square, fostering serendipitous encounters and spontaneous conversations. September’s gathering took place in Dudley Square; November’s will happen in Allston/Brighton.</p> <p>“With this new, year-round ‘Open Doors’ model, we’re able to connect with a range of fascinating people in a range of neighborhoods around Boston,” says Jessie Schlosser Smith, director of open space programming at MIT and a member of the HubWeek board. “Each ‘Open Doors’ is a little different than the last, depending on where it takes place, the programming, and who shows up.”</p> <p>“We wanted to expand the number of opportunities,” says Kennedy. “HubWeek is all about activating the community. We can provide HubWeek’s distinctive convening function at multiple levels and scales, in different communities, and not just once every fall but throughout the year.”</p> <p>This past July, for instance, Open Doors came to Kendall Square, where participants toured the new state-of-the-art lab space of <a href="http://mitnano.mit.edu/">MIT.nano</a> and learned about how nanotechnology research (much of it taking place at MIT) will change just about everything. They mixed and mingled in a sold out speed-mentoring event, with MIT leaders like David Nuñez, director of technology and digital strategy at the <a href="https://mitmuseum.mit.edu/">MIT Museum</a>, and Ritu Raman, founder of the Women in STEM Database at MIT (<a href="https://wisdm.mit.edu/women-stem-database-mit">WiSDM</a>). A session at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard had MIT experts giving talks on advances in synthetic biology and genome sequencing.</p> <p>“In these Open Doors events, the learning goes both ways,” says Smith. “It’s a mechanism for connecting. In July, MIT was sharing its own incredible work, but MIT people were also connecting and learning about other amazing work that’s happening around Boston.”</p> <p>This kind of evolution, says Kennedy, is part and parcel of the experimental ethos of HubWeek, and was largely based on feedback from participants. “It’s a lesson of the past four years of HubWeek: People wanted more and wanted to spread things out throughout the year. We’ll continue to listen to our community, and continue to expand those opportunities.”</p> <p>Over the past five years, HubWeek has also catalyzed dozens of ventures, many of them conceived and led by MIT students and alumni.</p> <p>For example, the Demo Day pitch competition, which brings together aspiring entrepreneurs and expert judges for a grand business plan pitch competition, has always had a strong showing from the MIT community. The winner of the 2017 competition was You Wu PhD ’18, who launched a venture based on his mechanical engineering PhD research that used robotics to locate and fix leaking urban water pipes.</p> <p>Another unexpected boon has been the connections forged between people and programs within MIT itself, as a result of participating in HubWeek over the years.</p> <p>“I am so thankful for the great people I’ve worked with and the fantastic relationships we’ve built with all the partners within MIT,” says Kennedy.</p> <p>“In Boston, everyone often has their heads down, focused on building things,” she notes. HubWeek gives them a chance to look up, and look around and what everyone else is building.</p> <p>“It’s a little bit outside of everyone’s normal job,” Kennedy says, “but it’s something that people are really attracted to. People love what we’re building.”</p> Images: HubWeekSpecial events and guest speakers, Cambridge, Boston and region, Community, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E), Kendall Square Workshop teaches high school girls and educators to build motors http://news.mit.edu/2019/mit-workshop-teaches-girls-educators-build-motor-0916 Materials Research Laboratory’s Materials Research Science and Engineering Center sponsors a motor-building workshop. Mon, 16 Sep 2019 14:20:01 -0400 Susan Rosevear | Materials Research Laboratory http://news.mit.edu/2019/mit-workshop-teaches-girls-educators-build-motor-0916 <p>This summer, the Materials Research Laboratory (MRL) Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) sponsored a motor-building workshop titled Dustbusting by Design on the MIT campus.</p> <p>Forty high school girls participating in the MIT Women’s Technology Program in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (WTP-EECS) and eight middle and high school science teachers in the MRSEC Science Teacher Enrichment Program (STEP) spent four days in the Pappalardo Lab on campus engaged in the engineering design process.</p> <p>The week began with a lecture on the physics, engineering, and design challenges of a small DC motor by Steven Leeb, MIT professor of electrical engineering and computer science and mechanical engineering. During the following days, the students and teachers worked in teams in the machine shop to design and build their own DC motors, culminating in a “spin-off” to determine which motor was fastest.</p> <p>WTP-EECS is a residential four-week summer program at MIT for rising female high school seniors who have demonstrated high achievement in math and science. The objectives are to increase young women’s interest in, and confidence to pursue, electrical engineering and computer science careers. The WTP-EECS curriculum includes classes in math, electrical engineering, and computer science, in addition to the motor-building workshop.</p> <p>The STEP is an opportunity for local middle and high school teachers to experience the engineering design process in a hands-on workshop and to consider its classroom applications. After the “spin-off,” the teachers are presented with a series of polymer demonstrations for classroom use, followed by a discussion with Leeb about strategies for teaching engineering design in the context of different subjects. In the course of this discussion, Leeb shared some of the hands-on design projects he employs in teaching his first-year seminar at MIT.</p> High school teammates display the DC motor they made before a Dustbusting by Design spin-off competition at MIT. The event is the culmination of the MRL MRSEC / EECS summer Women’s Technology Program.Image: Denis Paiste/Materials Research LaboratoryMaterials Research Laboratory, Women in STEM, Special events and guest speakers, Electrical Engineering & Computer Science (eecs), STEM education Understanding populism http://news.mit.edu/2019/global-populism-0916 At MIT forum, scholars wrestle with the dynamics of a global political trend. Mon, 16 Sep 2019 10:19:45 -0400 Peter Dizikes | MIT News Office http://news.mit.edu/2019/global-populism-0916 <p>We are living in an age of populism, according to a wide array of pundits and politicians. But what does that mean, exactly? Some high-profile scholars examined that issue at an MIT public forum on Thursday, discussing the key hallmarks of populism, as well as its relationship to global economics.</p> <p>While populist politicians have growing prominence and power in Europe and around the world, arriving at a working definition of the subject is not easy, noted MIT political scientist Richard Samuels, in introductory remarks.</p> <p>Populism is “a very complex phenomenon,” said Samuels, the Ford International Professor of Political Science and director of the MIT Center for International Studies (CIS), adding that there is significant “diversity that’s hidden … within the simple label of populism.”</p> <p>Moreover, Samuels said, the promises of populists during campaigns do not always match the reasons they seek power, making it all the more important to look under the surface of the movement.</p> <p>“They run for the people, [and] they run against the establishment,” Samuels said. However, he added, “They run for themselves, above all.”</p> <p>Thursday’s event, ‘The Rise of Global Populism,” was held in MIT’s Bartos Theater, with an audience of about 200 people. The panel was part of the Starr Forum series hosted by CIS.</p> <p>The event featured two other scholars: Jan-Werner Mueller, a professor of politics at Princeton University and author of the recent book “What Is Populism?” and Suzanne Berger, a professor of political science and MIT’s inaugural John M. Deutch Institute Professor. Berger has extensively studied both popular politics, especially in rural Europe, and the dynamics of globalization and industrial production.</p> <p>As Mueller noted in his remarks, all kinds of politicans have been granted the populist label in recent years — even French president Emmanuel Macron, an unapologetic technocrat, has been called a “populist of the extreme center.”</p> <p>Nonetheless, Mueller suggested, a useable definition of populism should be focused on a commonality of populist politicians: They always claim “a monopoly for representing the people” in politics.</p> <p>“Populists are going to say that all other contenders for power are fundamentally illegitimate,” Mueller said, noting that this has “dangerous consequences” for democracies.</p> <p>In a related vein, Mueller noted, populists consistently claim their own supporters are the “real” citizens of a given country. For instance, he explained, when the Brexit referendum won at the polls in June 2016, the pro-Brexit politician Nigel Farage declared the outcome a “victory for real people” in Britain, despite the narrow 52-48 margin.</p> <p>“The populist decides who ‘truly’ belongs to the people, and who doesn’t,” said Mueller. “What is distinctive and dangerous about populism is, for shorthand, antipluralism, the tendency always to exclude.”</p> <p>Mueller also devoted a significant portion of his remarks to his contention that populists, perhaps contrary to common perception, do not just win elections, but can also govern well enough to meet their political goals.</p> <p>“Not only can populists govern, they can govern as, fundamentally, populists,” Mueller. Populist leaders might preside over deeply divided electorates, but they practice “mass clientalism,” with policies targeted to reward their own supporters.</p> <p>While Mueller’s remarks focused more on building a robust definition of populism, Berger discussed the relationship between populism and globalization — which is often regarded as a driver of populist sentiment and unrest, by hollowing out wages and jobs in industrialized countries.</p> <p>As Berger noted, an expanding group of scholars and writers has called for a halt or a slowing to globalization. Indeed, Berger — who is also working on a new book about globalization — noted that it is by no means an inevitable phenomenon. The world experienced what she called its first modern-scale globalization in the late 1800s and early 1900s, only for World War I to bring the process to a sudden halt.</p> <p>“We’ve been here before,” Berger said. “The first globalization … ended on one day,” she added, referring to Aug. 4, 1914, when Britian declared war on Germany.</p> <p>“Border walls went up all around the world, and they didn’t come down again until the 1980s,” Berger said. “Capital markets were more integrated in the 1880s than they were in the 1970s.”</p> <p>Using history as a guide, then, Berger noted, “globalization could end,” especially if economic barriers become a common part of populist policymaking. And in Berger’s view, that could lead to increased economic distress.</p> <p>“The possibility that protectionism will lead to a recession is a very real one,” Berger said.</p> <p>However, as Berger said in her remarks, while “slowing the pace” of globalization may help democratic politics, she does not regard a rolling back of global economic connections to be desirable. The larger problem, Berger suggested, is not globalization in itself, but a globalizing economy that has not been accompanied by inclusive politics.</p> <p>The “first globalization,” Berger said, “was actually a period when democracy expanded and consolidated,” noting that it took place in an era of wider voting rights and other reforms in industrialized nations. “Most of these reforms were won in hard-fought battles [led by] unions, from strikes, and [from] large-scale mobilizations.” In those cases, she added, “elites acted out of necessity and out of concern for social peace ... and in order to build coalitions that would support opening the borders.”</p> <p>To sustain globalization without producing a further backlash from populist leaders and their followers, then, Berger suggested it was necessary to “build organizations that can bring the voices of those most affected by globalization into policy.”</p> <p>To be sure, she added, “building such a coalition is going to be very difficult. But it’s what we need to make good on our old promises to make globalization a lever to help everyone. … We need a politics capable of massive initiatives in state and society.”</p> <p>For his part, Mueller also suggested that mass democracy and greater political participation would not necessarily feed the current populist movement, and indeed might limit the trend.</p> <p>“It’s not the people who destroy democracies,” Mueller said. “It’s the elites. You might say, ‘Well, sounds like a populist.’ But I remind you: Not all critics of elites are populists.”</p> Richard Samuels, the Ford International Professor of Political Science and director of the MIT Center for International Studies, introduces Suzanne Berger, MIT’s John M. Deutch Institute Professor, and Jan-Werner Mueller, a professor of politics at Princeton University, at MIT’s Starr Forum event on global populism, Sept. 12.Image: Laura Kerwin/MIT Center for International StudiesSchool of Humanities Arts and Social Sciences, Politics, Center for International Studies, Political science, Special events and guest speakers, History, Voting and elections Demo Day celebrates student entrepreneurship http://news.mit.edu/2019/delta-v-demo-day-entrepreneurship-0910 MIT’s delta v accelerator concludes with presentations from participants and encouragement for all students. Tue, 10 Sep 2019 11:07:37 -0400 Zach Winn | MIT News Office http://news.mit.edu/2019/delta-v-demo-day-entrepreneurship-0910 <p>On Friday, student startups from this year’s MIT delta v accelerator presented their companies to a packed audience at Kresge Auditorium, in a celebration of entrepreneurship.</p> <p>The entrepreneurs still have much work to do, and they each took very different paths to the stage, but the event, known as delta v’s Demo Day, was an opportunity to recognize the progress they’ve made so far.</p> <p>“Today is my favorite day of the year,” said Bill Aulet, managing director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, in his opening remarks. “This is a culmination of what happens at MIT in the field of entrepreneurship. There’s so many different resources and things going on, but today you see the best of the best from all those different places. You should celebrate the people, and you should save the programs you have, because these companies are going to do amazing things.”</p> <p>In total, students from 23&nbsp;startups made presentations, noting key milestones toward business growth to boisterous applause. This summer’s <a href="http://entrepreneurship.mit.edu/accelerator/" target="_blank">delta v</a> program included 100 entrepreneurs who worked on their startups full time between June and September from either the Trust Center on campus or the MIT New York City Startup Studio. In addition to work and lab space, the startups also received equity-free funding, coaching and mentorship, and other support from the Institute.</p> <p>This year’s group of startups included a virtual care clinic to help patients manage chronic conditions; an online community to help landlords and tenants fill apartment rentals; a “smart” inhaler that helps users improve adherence and their technique when using the device; a sewage treatment provider with a system that turns fecal sludge into electricity while cleaning the water; an online platform to match parents with underutilized childcare centers for last minute placements; an app that lets fans play fantasy sports during games; a robotic bartender for work functions; and many others.</p> <p>Most of the startups have already begun working with customers, and all of them have tested their ideas outside of the lab. Aulet noted that several delta v startups have gone on to become foundational companies with huge valuations, or been acquired by leaders in their industry, though he said he’s most proud of the learning and impact that comes from the program.</p> <p>“But it’s not just about the exits; it’s about the way [these companies] impact the world,” Aulet told the audience. “Changing agriculture, changing health care, changing urban environments. That’s what we’re here to celebrate: these 100 people that will change the world and set a gold standard.”</p> <p><strong>A growing educational footprint</strong></p> <p>Now in its eighth year, delta v has&nbsp;supported 125&nbsp;startups, many of which are still in operation. By pushing startup teams to learn from their target customers and build companies around those insights, the program aims to equip participants with entrepreneurial skills they can use throughout their careers. Indeed, even as it forces students out of the classroom, at its core delta v is an educational program.</p> <p>“Delta v is a teaching apparatus around entrepreneurship, so that’s embedded in the scheduled activities every week,” says Rachel Basch, director of content for Abound Parenting, a startup with an app for parents to improve their children’s reading levels. “I don’t have a business background, so this has been really educational.”</p> <p>Abound has already begun a pilot trial with more than 100 parents and is expecting a wider public launch later this month.</p> <p>Karina Akib, co-founder of CaroCare, which provides in-home and virtual care to new families in the eight weeks postpartum, said the mock boards that delta v assigns to each startup helped her founding team test its ideas and prioritize each step toward building a customer base.</p> <p>“Every month our board was super critical on what we needed to do next, what traction they wanted to see, and because our board was made up of people from the health care space and venture capital space — people who had done this before — they really pushed us to get more traction every month. They also forced us to focus. You needed to prove there was action and you could only do that by focusing on one thing.”</p> <p>The guidance helped CaroCare launch a paid pilot in June. The company has delivered more than 50 hours of care to date and is hoping to expand in the coming months.</p> <p>This was the third year the program included a group of startups from New York City, hosted by the venture capital firm Two Sigma Ventures. Seven teams worked from New York, creating an intimate environment that gave the entrepreneurs a close look at their peer startups.</p> <p>“[The New York cohort] was super small, so we got to know each other really well,” says Andrey Biryuchinskiy, the co-founder of the online community for blue-collar workers called Hardworkers. “It was cool because a lot of the startups in NYC have already raised money, so it was amazing to learn from them and see different stages of startup life.”</p> <p>Biryuchinskiy and his co-founder Vlad Shraybman have already conducted more than 100 interviews for market research, and Biryuchinskiy says the Hardworkers platform is adding more than 300 new members every month.</p> <p><strong>“A blessing to mankind”</strong></p> <p>This year’s event also featured a talk by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker. Baker applauded the entrepreneurs and audience members for their passion and enthusiasm, and pointed out the great resources Massachusetts has to offer new companies, urging entrepreneurs to keep their businesses in the commonwealth.</p> <p>“I’d be nuts if I stood in front of this audience and did not say that at some point!” Baker said to laughter.</p> <p>In a more serious tone, Baker, who has attended several MIT events since becoming governor in 2015, emphasized the important role the Institute plays in translating innovation into impactful companies.</p> <p>“MIT is a really blessing, and it’s not just a blessing to Cambridge, it’s not just a blessing to Massachusetts, it’s a blessing to mankind,” Baker said.</p> <p>Overall, the event let participants celebrate the progress they’ve made so far and provided an example for other students considering embarking on their own entrepreneurial journeys. This year’s Demo Day kicked off MIT’s annual festival of entrepreneurship and innovation, <a href="http://entrepreneurship.mit.edu/t0/" target="_blank">t=0</a>, which features entrepreneurial events for students across campus all week.</p> <p>Aulet encouraged the students in the audience to believe in themselves and take the plunge into MIT’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.</p> <p>“Tonight is not just about the people presenting,” Aulet said. “It’s about you students. Because you have to be motivated and believe that you can be up on this stage. Because these people were in the audience one year ago.”</p> This year's Demo Day for the MIT delta v summer accelerator gave entrepreneurs a chance to celebrate the progress they've made so far.Image: Justin KnightInnovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E), Startups, Students, Special events and guest speakers, Undergraduate, Graduate, postdoctoral, School of Engineering, Sloan School of Management, Business and management, Apps, Childcare, Health care, Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship Letter regarding the first of six climate change symposia http://news.mit.edu/2019/letter-regarding-first-climate-change-symposia-0904 Wed, 04 Sep 2019 16:18:14 -0400 MIT News Office http://news.mit.edu/2019/letter-regarding-first-climate-change-symposia-0904 <p><em>The following letter was sent to the MIT community by president L. Rafael Reif.</em></p> <p>To the members of the MIT community,</p> <p>In keeping with MIT’s broad and intensive efforts outlined in our <a href="https://climate.mit.edu/climateaction">Plan for Action on Climate Change</a>, last spring I wrote to let the community know that, this academic year, we will host six symposia focused on climate change and its urgent global challenges.</p> <p><em>The symposia topics, times and locations appear at the end of this short note, and future details will be available at <a href="https://climate.mit.edu/symposia">climatesymposia.mit.edu</a>.</em></p> <p>Featuring leading experts from MIT and elsewhere, the six symposia will explore the frontier of climate science and policy, highlight innovative efforts to decarbonize everything from electricity to transportation and consider how research universities can best accelerate progress.</p> <p>The challenge of dramatically stepping up the pace of decarbonization while making sure this transition is sustainable and equitable across society will take all of our collective talents – and the best work of countless MIT minds and hands. We are eager for the symposia to help galvanize our community and plant the seeds for future research, policy and innovation in climate solutions. To that end, I hope many of you will make time to attend.​</p> <p>I write now to invite you to the first symposium in the series. So we can estimate attendance, please <a href="https://www.eventbrite.com/e/climate-action-symposia-series-progress-in-climate-science-tickets-69347260523">register here</a>.</p> <p><strong>Progress in Climate Science</strong><br /> Wednesday, October 2<br /> 1:00–4:00 pm<br /> Kresge Auditorium (<a href="https://whereis.mit.edu/?go=W16">Building W16</a>)</p> <p>Thanks to the leadership of Professor Kerry Emanuel, himself an expert on the science of climate change, this first symposium will include two panels – one on Frontiers in Climate Science, one on Climate Risks – and will begin with keynote remarks from a pioneering climate researcher and eminent member of the MIT faculty, Professor Susan Solomon. It will be my honor to provide the opening remarks.</p> <p>I look forward to seeing many of you on October 2.</p> <p>Sincerely,</p> <p>L. Rafael Reif</p> Community, Faculty, Staff, Climate change, Students, Alternative energy, Energy, Greenhouse gases, Special events and guest speakers, President L. Rafael Reif