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Edgerton Center Celebrates Opening

By Eva Moy
Editor in chief

"A year and a half ago, all we had was a sign on the door and nothing inside."

Today, Director J. Kim Vandiver is proud to host the official opening of the Edgerton Center.

Tucked away on the fourth floor of Building 4, the center is perhaps best known for its high-speed photography -- the "Strobe Lab" (6.163), started by the late ``Doc" Harold E. Edgerton ScD '27, which has been taught for the past 25 years.

But the Edgerton Center goes beyond that; it tries to "get freshmen started on doing interesting things ... doing what they came here for," Vandiver said.

"Our hope is to really open doors for students," said Program Coordinator Andrea McGimsey.

The Edgerton Center is a "place where students can find resources, advice, and general support in pursuing inventions and ideas of their own" in all science and engineering disciplines, Vandiver said. In a year and a half, the center has sponsored Strobe Lab, eight freshman advising seminars, and many Independent Activities Period activities, he said.

However, none of this would have been possible without the help of Doc Edgerton's wife Esther Edgerton and the Trustees of the Edgerton Foundation who have provided for a permanent endowment for the operation of the Center.

They, along with Chairman of the Corporation Paul E. Gray `54, President Charles M. Vest, and Provost Mark S. Wrighton will also attend the event.

Emphasis on freshman support

"I really want to make the MIT experience for undergraduates interesting and engaging and fun from the freshman year on," Vandiver said. "Students can get involved in real problems, as opposed to problem sets and lectures."

The center emphasizes hands-on learning; "You have an idea; can you make it work?" McGimsey asked. The center also provides resources, laboratory space, equipment, and advisors for students.

The Edgerton Center might also "try to come up with alternative means of supporting [Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program projects]," as the federal government will no longer waive UROP overhead starting July 1, Vandiver said.

Current projects that undergraduates are working on at the center include high-speed and underwater photography, the "Corridor lab," digital electronics, and VLSI chip design, according to McGimsey. With $100,000 worth of equipment donated by Kodak Company, one recent project resulted in ground-breaking findings on combustion engines. The center is also planning to create state-of-the-art digital darkroom.