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IAP provides valuable opportunities

As one of the organizers of the 6.270 robot design competition, I am dismayed to hear of proposals for the abolition of the Independent Activities Period. This fall, 341 MIT students registered for the 150 openings in the 1992 IAP 6.270 course. This is an overwhelming and unprecedented level of student interest in an IAP activity.

Part of the reason for the project's huge success is the unique format made possible by IAP. Students have a chance to immerse themselves in a learning experience, without the distractions of multiple classes, problem sets and grades. They can literally spend 20, 30 or more hours a week on a single project.

Students in 6.270 may not be pouring over an engineering text or cranking out answers to a problem set, but they are pulling all-nighters writing multi-tasking C code, building sophisticated mechanical devices and evaluating electronic sensors. They are designing and building a robot that will perform a real task on contest night. They are facing real engineering problems, the same types of problems real engineers face when they design and debug a complex technological system.

Even if 6.270 is the largest IAP class, it -- like many others -- provides an intensive, alternative format for learning that many MIT students desire and find valuable. Reformers of the MIT curriculum should recognize the significance of these learning formats. For the month of IAP, 6.270 students live and breathe robotics. Isn't this what the

MIT educational experience is all about?

Fred Martin G->