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Blitz Outlines Academic Options

thomas E. Murphy -- The Tech
Professor Toyoichi Tanaka demonstrates "smart hydrogels" as prospective physics majors look on at the Academics Expo in the Johnson Athletic Center yesterday.

By Satwiksai Seshasai

Professors and members of various MITdepartments introduced freshmen to their academic options yesterday at the Core Blitz.

The event, held in Kresge Auditorium, and the subsequent Academic Expo in Johnson Athletic Center, featured brief presentations from professors of the core courses.

In the tradition of other orientation activities this week, freshmen began the Blitz with enthusiastic cheering for fellow classmates and professors until Tova Peltz '99, the academic orientation coordinator, requested that they "mellow out just a tad."

The first speaker was Professor of Chemistry Robert J. Silbey, who will be teaching Principles of Chemical Science (5.11). He described the two chemistry options for freshmen, 5.11 and Introduction to Solid-State Chemistry (3.091), stating that they have a 3040 percent overlap in content.

"Either subject is OK," Silbey said. "At the end of each subject you have a bag of tools."

For those students with Advanced Placement credit, Silbey suggested that they take Organic Chemistry I (5.12), taught by the "legendary Dan Kemp."

Sadoway talks about 3.091

Following Silbey was Professor of Materials Science and Engineering Donald R. Sadoway, who will be teaching 3.091 this fall.

Sadoway described some of the special features of taking 3.091. Since it is taught by engineers, he said, the course emphasizes examples. Also, the last five minutes of each lecture feature a discussion on "chemistry and the world around us," where Sadoway tries to relate the field material science to music, art, literature, and other topics.

According to Sadoway, this course is ideal for students who have had some chemistry experience, such as the AP Exam, and wish to view chemistry from a new perspective. He emphasized that taking 3.091 does not "close any medical school doors."

Dean Khoursy explains HASS

The next speaker was Philip S. Khoury, dean of the school of humanities and social sciences. He was accompanied by HASS Office Coordinator Bette K. Davis, whom he called the "repository of all wisdom in the humanities, arts and social sciences."

Khoury explained the HASSrequirements at MIT, describing the breadth offered by HASS-Ds and the depth offered by the HASSconcentration.

"If you were to take only one course in a field, it would be a HASS-D," he said. Additionally, he said the HASSconcentration program offers "a lot of choice," emphasizing the writing and communication skills taught by the HASScourses.

Khoury then explained the lottery for HASS-Ds, noting that 8590 percent of students get their first choice, and 9598 percent get their first or second choice.

He then offered an "intellectual rationale" for the HASSprogram, saying that as future leaders, MITstudents must be prepared to solve complex socio-cultural issues in any career.

Farhi explains physics program

Professor of Physics Edward H. Farhi introduced himself as a "stand-in for Alan Guth."Guth will be teaching Physics I (8.01). Farhi received laughs when he praised Guth as the "father of the current theory of what the universe looked like minutes after the big bang" and added that this makes him "very important."

In describing the options for physics, Farhi reviewed a chart of the four courses offered for freshmen. He talked about the benefits of each course in the 8.01 family and then invited students to come to the Academic Expo for more information.

Next on the schedule was Professor Harvey F. Lodish of the Whitehead Institute. He indicated that MIT was one of the only schools to have a biology requirement for all of its students. This is important, he said, because of the "revolution that is going to shape our future" with the study of DNA.

As the other professors did, Lodish described the differences between the three biology courses offered to freshmen. He said that all three courses had about two-thirds of the same content, while spending the final weeks discussing unique material.

The final presentation of the blitz was given by Professor of Mathematics James R. Munkres. He described math as "the language of all science and engineering."

Munkres described the three basic sequences of calculus courses, each involving two semesters of calculus instruction. "Most reasonable universities take three semesters to teach calculus," he said, "so, of course, MITdoes it in two."

In closing, Munkres reminded students that this is "not an earth shaking decision" and the math professors would make suggestions to move students if they were in an inappropriate course.

After the professors had spoken, Peltz closed the program by reminding freshmen that "you're at MITfor the academics." She encouraged them to attend the various Freshmen Explorations next week, which will involve freshmen in experiments and demonstrations with the various departments. Finally, Peltz led the freshmen to Johnson Athletic Center for the Academic Expo.

Academic Expo expands on blitz

At the Academic Expo, each MITdepartment featured a booth with information on its degree options. Some departments also had interactive experiments such as a chemistry magic show and a choir performance to interest freshmen. Other campus groups were also represented, such as the Experimental Studies Group, Concourse, Integrated Studies Program, Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, ROTC,. and the writing program.

Student reaction to the events was generally positive, as with most Orientation events this year. Richard Redemske '02 felt that the programs were "highly informative"and provided a "better foundation" for him to make his academic decisions.

Isaac Feitler '02 said that "all the material has been useful" and he was now "very excited" about his upcoming year.

Sini Kamppari '02 was glad to receive "lots of free stuff" at the midway as she learned about opportunities she hadn't previously known about, such as the study abroad program.

Some students were overwhelmed with the tremendous amount of information being presented to them. Betsy Krichten '02 said that she felt "scared,"because "everybody else has their life planned."

The staff at the expo was generally very pleased with the freshmen who attended the expo. Chemistry Education Coordinator Miriam Diamond was "pleased with the amount of enthusiasm," and said that "the freshmen ask good questions."