• Max Mitchell of Las Vegas holds his team's entry in the underwater robot competition held in the Alumni Pool on July 28, the finale of this year's MITES program. His team, Los Pepos, won the underwater Quidditch match, but not the overall robot competition. Open image gallery

    Photo / Kathryn O'Neill

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MITES makes a splash with robots

A rousing game of underwater Quidditch brought this year's Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science program to a close on July 28.

High school students who had been working and living together at MIT for six weeks maneuvered their underwater robots through the Alumni Pool, picking up weighted markers and delivering them to a goal.

The event was just one in a daylong program that rounded out Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science (MITES).

The students, who will be seniors in the fall, also presented web site designs and a poster session on genomics to an appreciative audience in Room 34-101. The robot contest -- co-directed by Marc Graham (Ph.D. 2006), veteran competitor and teaching assistant in MIT's famed 2.007 robot contest, and Ed Moriarty, instructor in the Edgerton Center -- was broadcast to the room live on closed-circuit TV.

MITES was created in 1974 to increase the number of underrepresented minorities in the engineering professions by exposing students to engineering courses during their high school years.

The program is 100 percent scholarship-based. Funding from industry, foundations and individuals covers all expenses for each student.

This year's 62 high school juniors participated in a rigorous academic program at MIT, studying biology, calculus, chemistry, physics and engineering design among other science, engineering and computer science courses.

But the MITES program goes beyond demanding coursework. Program objectives include fostering students' problem-solving skills; introducing them to the wide scope of career paths within engineering; and helping them clarify their own career goals.

Students are responsible for committing themselves to MITES' three "pillars of learning": They must demonstrate proficiency in five out of the 14 course offerings; develop strategies for learning new material; and be able to express and share their individual and cultural identities.

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