Monday, March 12, 2007

Spring Semester 2007 Classes

Here are the classes I am taking this semester. I'm taking 48 units. I’m really starting to get into my major!

10.213 Chemical and Biological Engineering Thermodynamics [K. K. Gleason]

This class expands on 5.60 (Thermodynamics and Kinetics) from last term. It seems very similar to 5.60 in that a lot of the stuff is not presented in a very exciting fashion. The professor is very friendly and nice, and when she lectures I understand her, but that doesn’t make the 1.5 hour lecture twice a week easy to pay attention to. A lot of this stuff is just so mathematical that it seems they have forgotten the practical aspect of it. We’ll see what the class is like as the semester goes on. I have my first 10.213 exam tomorrow!

10.301 Fluid Mechanics [P. S. Virk, W. M. Deen]

This class is very interesting so far. Although a lot of it is just “plugging and chugging” numbers, each equation has a very definite practical application (such as pipe flow or drag on a plane). Professor Virk is very amusing and his hand outs for each lecture are extremely helpful. Professor Deen just started lecturing last week, so I’m not sure what to think of him yet. This is one of my favorite classes this semester. The information we are learning is different than other things I’ve studied, so maybe that is why I enjoy it. I just had my first test in this class last Thursday, and it was extremely long (although the questions were not that difficult) and hardly anyone finished. I felt like I understood the information well though, so we’ll see what happens with that.

5.310 Laboratory Chemistry [J. L. Schrenk, M. D. Gheorghiu]

This is just your basic chemistry lab course. Some of the labs have not been very exciting, but now that I’m getting used to everything in the lab the 4 hour lab periods are not so bad. Other than lab reports, the class does not take a lot of time. We have a lab report due about once every month, and they are around ten pages. I actually like writing up the lab report, possibly because my previous science research gave me experience with the research process. There are two lecture exams in this class and we have one small quiz for each lab. And then we have the lab reports. I turned in my lab report last week, but we haven’t gotten anything back in this class yet, so I have no idea how I’m doing, which is somewhat frustrating. The TAs seem to be slow graders, but at least they are helpful in the lab itself.

21W.757 Fiction Workshop [J. Diaz]

I love creative writing, so this class is fun for me. It involves more work than most of the other HASS classes I have taken. We are averaging about one story (about 7 pages) every other week, and we have reading assignments and must critique other people’s stories each week. My professor is extremely eccentric and funny, which makes the class a joy to be in. After a long day I feel like I just want to go home and sleep, but I find that this class keeps me awake and alert. I think my writing will improve a lot this semester, since he is a tough grader. I highly recommend taking one of Professor Diaz’s courses if you enjoy creative writing.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Big Winter Update (Finally)

Now it’s finally time for my update on what happened during winter break! I went home after finals and enjoyed spending time with my family. We had uncles, aunts, cousins, and grandparents at my house for the holidays, so it was crazy but lots of fun. I saw a few friends while I was back home, but I mostly relaxed. I got a Nintendo Wii for Christmas, and I’ve been playing the Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Gus is actually way ahead of me in the game now, which is amusing considering I had a lot of break to play it and he did not. I even got my grandparents to play Wii Sports, and I think they had fun too!

MIT gives you all of January off, so you get 1.5 months of vacation. This January period is called “Independent Activities Period” (IAP). During IAP, you can take classes (for credit or not), and it is just a great time to hang out with your friends with no stress. To see some of the offerings for IAP, check out this website:

During IAP, I searched for internships, hung out with my friends, attended a few seminars, did a short class, and just relaxed and had fun in general. I have summarized a few of the things I did below:

-Mystery Hunt! The annual mystery hunt is a big tradition at MIT. It is a huge puzzle competition and lots of people take part in it. The team who wins gets to organize the next mystery hunt. Some of the puzzles are really hard, and others are easy. It doesn’t matter if you are bad at puzzles or not, because some of them just require you to know something really random, like the name of a song, or a movie, or something. Many people stay up really late working on puzzles each day (it’s a weekend with hardly any sleep). The Simmons “Lego my Ego” team (remember that Simmons looks like a huge waffle) did pretty well this year, we didn’t win anything, but we were far from being last. Below is a picture of the white board used to display answers people had gotten.

-Seminars: I went to a few lectures about searching for internships. I also went to one on science writing. They had four actual writers (who were all related to MIT in some way) in the industry come out and talk about their jobs, so that was cool.

-Storytelling and Games in the Digital Age: This was a week long class that involved a lot of effort, but was also a lot of fun! Sony puts on this workshop for students and we got to design a video game (and when I say “design” I mean we come up with ideas and present them, we don’t actually create a videogame). We had to come up with an already existing franchise and make a game out of it, and then we did a presentation at the end. My group designed a game from the Twilight Zone, and it was in the adventure/horror genre. We stayed up a pretty late a few nights trying to finish everything. Our presentation went well the last day, although we didn’t win the competition. The team who won had a Beatles game that was very creative. I had a lot of fun and I’m glad I did it, even though it did take a lot of time. A pic of my team is below:
-I also went to a Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) concert during IAP with Gus. The music was pretty good. I love Beethoven, and Schoenberg was good, although I just don’t like the sound of his music as much as other types of music.

It was also my birthday in February (I’m 20….which is kind of strange). We had celebrated Gus and Annelise’s birthdays in December, so we had quite a few birthdays within two months of each other. My friends threw a surprise party for me the day after my birthday, so it was a lot of fun. Below is a pic of the beautiful (homemade!) and delicious cake that Gus and a few of my other friends made me.

I think those are the major things that happened during my winter break. Sorry it took so long for me to write that up! I’ll do an update about my spring semester classes soon.

Sand Mandala and 300

One of the reasons Simmons is a uniuqe dorm is because we have visiting scholars that live here for a short time (a few months to a few years). One of them in a Buddhist monk, and he and a few fellow monks used sand painting to create a mandala over the past week. I went to a lecture about the mandala on Friday and it was very interesting, and the mandala is beautiful. The mandala was displayed in the Simmons' Multi-Purpose Room, and it was ceremoniously destroyed yesterday afternoon. To see more pictures and learn more about what the mandala represents, visit this website.

On Friday night I also went out with a group of friends (my "lounge" group, sort of like a club made for going out and doing things). We went to an Italian restaurant in Boston and had a family style meal. They refill everything for free (although it is about $25 per person), but the food was soooo good. I was so stuffed afterwards!

Yesterday night I went out with a few friends for dinner and then we went to see the movie 300. It's by the same people who did Sin City, which I thought was a very well done movie and I appreciated its style, but I didn't really enjoy watching it. 300 is also very stylistic and it is about the famous battle of Thermopylae where a small army of Spartans (300 of them) fight to defend Greece against Xerxes, the Persian king. The imagery was very beautiful, and although the action was gory, it was fun to watch, much more fun than Sin City for me. The acting was pretty good, and the action was awesome, although some of the dialogue was a little awkward. I recommend seeing it if you want to have a good time and don't take the movie too seriously. Gladiator is still at the top of my list in terms of old war/action movies about Greece/Rome.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Random Hacks

Earlier this year, there were two major hacks. On the day the Nintendo Wii came out (November 19th), the triforce was seen on top of the great dome. For those of you who don't know, the triforce comes from the Legend of Zelda video game series (my favorite game series!).

There was also a very amusing hack by MIT during the Harvard football game against Yale. The Harvard coat of arms on the score board was changed to read: HUGE EGO instead of VERITAS (meaning "truth").


I have been searching for an internship since the beginning of the fall. I interviewed with Exxon Mobil and Shell (and the interviews went well), but with no luck. It is tough being a sophomore, even a sophomore with a good resume. Determined to get an internship this summer, I rewrote my cover letter to make it especially great and sent it off with my resume to as many Intel people as I possibly could. I want to work at Intel because they are a great company and they need chemical engineers to work on making semiconductors (and I like electronics). I did get a response from someone, unfortunately he wanted me to work for six months instead of three, which would not allow me to graduate on time. I sent my resume to someone else at Intel, who forwarded my email to lots of different people at Intel. I got a few responses, and interviewed with one of them on Tuesday. I thought the interview went very well--and I was right! I got the job! I just found out yesterday morning that I have a job offer in Santa Clara, California for an environmental process engineering internship at Intel. I am so happy to finally have an internship. I haven't officially accepted it yet, but I'm pretty sure I will. I don't have a ton of details about the internship right now, but I'll post something on my blog when I know more. Does anyone else have any plans for the summer (or have something they would like to do?). Post your comments here.