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Independent Activities Period Will Use New Online Planning System

By Gitrada Arjara

This year, students will be able to find Independent Activities Period programs via a new continually-updated web site.

The site, located at, is a "living, breathing web site, up-to-date, and easy to use," said Melissa Martin, the webmaster for the new project. A minimal schedule is currently available for searching; a more complete online guide will be available by mid-November.

IAP 99 will run from Jan. 4 through Jan. 29. Ideas for non-credit activities during this year's program should be submitted through the web site. They will be reviewed by IAPProgram Administrator Donna L. Friedman and the IAP Policy Committee. Any member of the MITcommunity is allowed to sponsor activities.

The deadline for posting activities in the printed version of the IAP guide is Nov. 13. The printed guide will be available in the first week of December.

Pre-registration required

IAP offers both credit and non-credit activities. This year, students must pre-register online beginning Dec. 1 for credit courses such as Physics I (8.01L) and Calculus (18.02A). Students are limited to 12 credits during the IAP period. Many non-credit activities also have sign-up deadlines.

IAP is very broad in its events and activities. Past IAP activities have included an Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences field trip for credit, effective speaking, and learning to read chinese characters.

There are also rumors that Charm School, to be run by students, is planned for Jan. 27. In the past, Charm School has been nationally covered for its classes on table manners, how to walk and how to eat, clothing statements, scarf tying, and color coordination.

Other IAP activities have also included cultural events, celebrations, music recitals, and star-gazing trips.

IAP gives students the opportunity to experience and explore the different MITdepartments. IAP is a "system of people working together" and a "time for students to explore the institute," said Undergraduate Research Opportunities ProgramDirector Norma McGavern.

Research mentor program offered

The IAP period is also a great time for freshmen and sophomores to begin participating in UROP.

The Research Mentor Program, although not an organized IAP event, pairs experienced UROP students with underclassmen. The upperclassmen will mentor the freshmen and sophomores, who work with their mentors in their labs, learning important lab techniques and skills.

Martin said that this program is a "great springboard into the UROP process." It provides students with comfort and ease in finding their own UROP projects.

Friedman "hopes that students will take IAP as a change of pace." This special period allows students to do things that are otherwise not possible during the regular semesters.

Other mentorships available

The Alumni Association also offers a program allowing students to learn more about a particular field through a mentor, by working closely with an MITalumnus or alumnae in New York, Washington D.C., California, or Boston.

Begun in 1994, the ExternshipProgram has "included experiences as unique as assisting in cardiac surgery to more traditional roles such as shadowing an environmental engineer, a venture capitalist, or a law student,"according to a press release.

Externship opportunities take place during IAP. Based on the wishes of the alumni sponsor, externships last from a day to a month. Applicants interested in obtaining an externship fill out an application and a resume, indicating which externships they are interested in. Alumni receive copies of the resumes of those students interested in their projects, and submit a list of top choices back to the Alumni Association, who coordinate the program.

Students receiving externships will be notified by Nov. 20. Applications are available by visiting the Alumni Association office (10-140) or on the web at The deadline for submitting an application is Nov. 6.