Students to be stars of MacVicar Day

Students who've participated in MIT work and study programs in the United States, Europe, Asia and India will discuss the lessons they learned--and the fun and adventures they had--during the annual MacVicar Day program this week.

The program, which follows the announcement of the MacVicar Faculty Fellows for 2002, will take place on Friday, March 1 from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in Room 6-120. Refreshments will be served from 2:30 to 3.

Among the experiences the students will discuss are a year in the British system of higher education where there is little pressure to turn in homework assignments or take tests; working with top engineers in Germany to reengineer automotive mechanics; designing and building a device that transports and stores vaccines for children in developing countries; and writing original technical papers in idiomatic Hindi, Mandarin, French and Italian.

"Knowledge and Action: MIT Students Around the World" will feature presentations about three MIT programs: the Cambridge-MIT Institute, service learning, and the MIT International Science and Technology Initiative.

The Cambridge-MIT Institute (CMI), a strategic alliance established in July 2000, includes an exchange program for undergraduates from MIT and the University of Cambridge in England. In the live videoconference that will open MacVicar Day, MIT students in Cambridge and the Cambridge students at MIT compare the educational styles and the social lives of the institutions. Professor John Vander Sande, executive director of CMI at MIT, will lead the conversation.

Service learning is a joint venture of the Public Service Center and the Edgerton Center. Its programs include the Public Service Design Seminars and the IDEAS competition, which provides funding for innovative community service projects. It is supported by the Massachusetts Campus Compact and the d'Arbeloff education initiative, as well as the Office of the Dean for Student Life.

Service learning was introduced in 2000-01 as a means of helping students apply their classroom know-ledge to community service projects. Arthur Musah, a sophomore in electrical engineering and computer science (EECS), will describe a design seminar that developed a way to make cooking fuel from sawdust, a waste product of the timber industry in Ghana. Freshmen Ian Collier and Heather Felix will show how building toys for the Codman Square Health Center helped them learn design tools that were part of the curriculum for their freshman advising seminar. Amy Smith, past winner of the Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for inventiveness and an instructor in EECS, will open the session.

MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI), created in 1994, has programs allowing students to work and study in China, France, Germany, India, Italy and Japan. MISTI provides paid internships of two to 12 months and intensive study in language and culture. Acting director Richard Samuels will discuss the history of MISTI's programs and educational methods. Navid Sabbaghi, a graduate student in EECS, will discuss the "Introduction to Japan" course he took last fall. Armando Herrera-Reyna, a junior in EECS, will describe his internships at Behr GmbH and Volkswagen's Veiterbildungszentrums in Germany.

MacVicar Day honors the contributions and leadership of the late Professor of Physics Margaret MacVicar, founder of the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, and MIT's first dean for undergraduate education.

Contact Helen Samuels (, x8-0310) or Joan O'Brien (, x3-3036) for additional information.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on February 27, 2002.

Topics: Students, Volunteering, outreach, public service

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