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Core Blitz Presents Class Info to Frosh

By Aurora Schmidt and Sagara Wickramnsekara

The class of 2003 officially began their academic odyssey yesterday with the Core Blitz, an hourlong barrage of information about freshman classes, and the Academic Expo, which gave freshmen their first official exposure to possible majors.

Over the course of the Blitz, students were besieged by information about the core requirements. Emphasizing the freedom accorded them Damien A. Brosnan ’01 told the Class of 2003 that they do not have to choose their major until the end of their freshman year.

Blitz provides flood of info

Professor of Chemistry Sylvia T. Ceyer gave a brief overview of the chemistry requirement, explaining how Principles of Chemical Science (5.11) and Solid-State Chemistry (3.091) are like “strawberry and raspberry... just different flavors of the same course.” Although both cover the fundamental principles of chemistry, 5.11 takes on the individual molecules while 3.091 is more interested in solid-state chemistry. She recommended that scientists take 3.091 and engineers take 5.11 in order to try out “the other side”. For those with advanced placement credit, she recommended taking Organic Chemistry (5.12), taught by the “legendary [Professor of Chemistry] Dan Kemp.”

Using a variety of props, from a soda can to an car’s oxygen sensor, Professor of Materials Science and Material Engineering Daniel R. Sadoway demonstrated how 3.091 taught concepts and applications through examples.

Afterwards, Professor Philip Khoury illuminated the mysteries of the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences requirement. With the help of Dr. Betty Davis, the coordinator of the HASS office, Khoury explained that students must take eight required subjects: three distribution subjects, three or four in a HASS concentration, and one or two other courses. Khoury advised freshmen “not to wait until the end of the year to take your distribution subjects... Take something that really interests you”

Professor of Mathematics David S. Jerison explained the myriad of placement options depending on high school experience. Calculus (18.01) was available to those who had less than a year and Calculus (18.01A-18.02A) is available for those with a year or more who needed review.

For those who placed out of 18.01 with AP credit, there are three flavors of Multivariate Calculus (18.02). “18.02 is plain vanilla,” Jerison said, “18.022 has more theory... [and] 18.023 has applications... [like] fluid mechanics and asymptoic analysis.” For those interested in rigorous proofs, Calculus with Theory (18.014-18.024) is available, although those with AP credit lose 3 units by taking the more theoretical subjects.

If a student already has credit for 18.02 Jerison strongly recommended going to Room 2-108 to consult on the many options. He also added that since all the calculus courses are scheduled at the same time, a student could easily switch courses if he or she finds themself at the wrong level.

There was a brief introduction to the physics core by Professor of Physics Edward H. Farhi. In addition to stating that every freshman would be taking some Physics course, he explained all of them had Newtonian mechanics in common, but then differed in pace. He warned that Physics I (8.01) moves at a fast pace and some physics experience was required. For those unsure of their physics, the department also offers 8.01L, which extends into IAP. 8.012 includes more theory while 8.01X is experiment-based.

Finally, the Biology requirement was explained by Professor of Biology Graham C. Walker. He outlined the three alternative Introduction to Biology courses, which differed in the areas which they emphasized. If a student has obtained a 5 on the AP exam, he or she has already received credit for this course. One option for such freshmen could be to take Genetics (7.03), which is usually a sophomore course.

However, Walker said the course is known for its difficulty, and he recommended students wait until their sophomore year to attempt the class.

Academics on parade

Following the Core Blitz was an academic expo in Johnson Athletics Center which introduced freshmen to all the many departments. Students took advantage of the opportunity to speak to professors about course offerings, majors, and unanswered questions about core classes.

Booths were setup for all the different majors as well as special programs like Concourse, the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, and Reserve Officer Training Corps.

In addition to providing information, many of the booths attempted to lure freshmen with a variety of material. Demonstrations included a Van de Graaff generator with a stuffed bird on top at the Plasma Science and Fusion Center table and the Ocean Engineering Pre-Orientation program’s submersible. The Department of Materials Science handed out free toys and, as a final incentive, freshmen were encouraged to collect raffle tickets from every station to win a free printer.

Although the Blitz and the Expo were a bombardment of information, freshmen generally agreed that they helped clarify core options and put everything into perspective.

“I thought it was a great intro to the entire core requirement. It was short and didn’t need to be any longer,” said Sloan Kulper ’03.