The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 35.0°F | A Few Clouds

Core Blitz, Academic EXpo Help Freshmen Chooses Classes, Majors

By David D. Hsu
News Editor

Now that most students have chosen where they want to live, freshmen, like it or not, will have to start thinking about academics.

Several Residence and Orientation Week programs are available to help freshmen choose not only classes but even what major they will be looking at.

Core Blitz, Academic Expo, and Freshmen Meet the Professors will give new students their first taste of academic life.

Core Blitz explains core options

Core Blitz, a program to introduce freshmen to the core class options, will be held today from 10:45 to 11:45 a.m. in Kresge Auditorium.

"The Core Blitz is an opportunity for the freshmen to find out about the different core courses," said Bree A. Huning '98, a member of the academics subcommittee of the R/O Committee. Core Blitz is set up in a lecture-style format with professors talking about class options as well as distributing handouts, she said.

The freshmen will also receive some information about how to budget their time, reminding them that they have more than just academic commitments, Huning said. Students will even get a little information about non-core classes like Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, Organic Chemistry (5.12), and Differential Equations (18.03), Huning said.

Professors will be talking for about eight minutes about each core subject.

Professor of Materials Science and Engineering Donald R. Sadoway and Professor of Chemistry Robert J. Silbey will be talking about the differences between Introduction to Solid-State Chemistry (3.091) and Principles of Chemical Science (5.11). Freshmen can take either class to fulfill the chemistry requirement.

Sadoway and Silbey will help them sort out which class will appeal to them and help them make an informed decision, Sadoway said. "It's really difficult to make our points in such a short time," but at least freshmen will get a chance to see the professors, he said.

"The students get to see me and Professor Silbey live and in color," Sadoway said. "It's as much how we say as what we say."

Also speaking will be Professor of Physics Wit Busza, who teaches Physics I (8.01). Busza will "briefly explain what introductory physics is, why it's a requirement, what various options exist, and give the students some advice on what to choose given their background and preparation," he said.

"Eight minutes doesn't give me much flexibility," Busza said. While the Core Blitz is kept short to avoid boring the freshman audience, "personally I would like a little more time, and it would be a little more useful for the students."

Professor of Mathematics Arthur P. Mattuck will help freshmen choose which calculus classes to take. Last year, there were problems with students switching between calculus classes 18.01 and 18.01A, Mattuck said.

Almost everybody who switched late invariably failed, Mattuck said. This year there will be rules for switching between the classes.

Academic Expo showcases majors

The Academic Expo will be held in Johnson Athletics Center from 12:30 to 2:00 p.m. Each department and special programs like Women's Studies will be set up in a format similar to the Activities Midway, Huning said.

Freshmen can pick up literature about the departments, Huning said. The Academic Expo is not focused on freshman classes, but rather on major selection.

For example, the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics will have professors and students available to talk about the department, said Assistant Professor James K. Kuchar '90.

The department will also have a number of demonstrations, Kuchar said. Among them is an F-14 Tomcat flight simulator and a helicopter control system where students can pilot a model helicopter.

The Department of Chemistry will have instructors and information for chemistry classes on hand, said Administrative Assistant Peter M. Floyd '87. They hope to both "introduce the new freshman to the chemistry department" and "to make them familiar with the courses that are offered."

The Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science will have a professor and a dozen students there, said Administrator Anne M. Hunter. "They'll have a ton of handouts, and they'll be offering lots of advice."

Professors won't talk about classes

The Freshmen Meet the Professors program will take place tomorrow from 1 to 2 p.m. in the Bush Room (10-105).

The professors will not be representing their departments, just themselves, Huning said. The faculty, a lot of them being freshmen advisers, will talk about life at MIT and not their research. It is a chance to talk to professors about more than just academics.

One program that will be missing this year is the Freshman Explorations. The Explorations were tours and seminars that introduced freshmen to various topics from how admissions worked to what the Plasma Fusion Center does.

"There just wasn't enough interest in them," Huning said.