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TBP Kicks Off Dinner Series To Celebrate Spirit of da Vinci

Gabor Csyani -- The Tech
Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Lakshminarayanan Mahadevan spoke about the life of Leonardo da Vinci at the opening of Tau Beta Pi's dinner series dedicated to the renaissance master.

By Sharmin Ghaznavi
Staff Reporter

The MIT chapter of Tau Beta Pi, an engineering honor society, began a Leonardo da Vinci dinner series wednesday evening. The series is an attempt to "foster a spirit of liberal culture at MIT," said President of TBP Panayiotis I. Kamvysselis G.

Wednesday night's speaker was assistant professor of mechanical engineering Lakshminarayanan Mahadevan. President Charles M. Vest was also on hand for the opening lecture.

"Leonardo [da Vinci] could not have wished for a better memorial to his enthusiastic, relentless and magnificent quest for knowledge and beauty of every kind," said President Charles M. Vest, as he kicked off Tau Beta Pi's Leonardo da Vinci Dinner Series.

"I think this is just a terrific idea and I hope that it really succeeds and flourishes," Vest said.

Lectures celebrate da Vinci spirit

MIT faculty members and TBP students from a wide variety of departments will be invited to each dinner to enjoy food, listen to an interesting presentation on a variety of topics, and engage in hearty conversation in the spirit of Leonardo da Vinci - artist, architect, engineer, scientist, and philosopher.

"It is our hope that by bringing together people from many different fields, we can foster the kind of intellectual diversity and love of knowledge exemplified by Leonardo," said President of TBP Panayiotis I. Kamvysselis G.

Each of these dinners will bring together about 20 TBP members and several faculty members. Each dinner will begin at 6 p.m. and last for approximately two hours.

One of the faculty members will give a short presentation which is intended to act as a catalyst for conversation during dinner. The presentations are meant to confront participants with relevant issues of science, society, and culture.

"We are hoping that the series will spur enough interest for a lecture series entitled, TBP Leonardo da Vinci Lectures' to become reality," Kamvysselis said.

The proposed lecture series would be open to all MIT students.

TBP did not have enough space for all the professors who were interested in the presentation. About 10 topics were not scheduled, and these might be the foundation of the lecture series.

Lewin, Brody slated to speak

"Over 100 hundred faculty members responded to the call for speakers, coming from a wide variety of vocations and disciplines around the institution. I think that is a very fine sign, though certainly not a surprising one," Vest said.

The speakers scheduled to speak range from Professor of Physics Walter H. G. Lewin to Associate Provost for the Arts Alan Brody.

Lewin's lecture is entitled, "The Moon, Planets, Stars, Black Holes, and Beyond."

Brody will speak on the role of arts in the education of the engineer, with comments on the relationship between the arts and technology in the new millennium.

"Even if we cannot individually match the breadth of intellect and mastery that is embodied in invention, we can uphold ideals. Ideals such as appreciation of the beauty of other disciplines, the power of creative collaboration across different fields and the immense satisfaction that comes from lifelong curiosity, learning and exploration," Vest said.

"By embarking on this series, you are helping to enlarge and enrich your intellectual experience beyond your own immediate studies," Vest said.

Eclectic mix of food to be served

The menu for the series ranges from traditions of Native American cooking to the cuisine of the sun, rustic cuisine of southern France.

"We hope that the dishes we have selected reflect the spirit of the da Vinci dinners. We hope our selection is truly cosmopolitan and that it reflects the fact that we are all world citizens," said Gerald S. Pierce, of Peasant Stock catering. "Our job is to get to know, and respect, and ultimately love that diversity which makes up our harmony."