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New MAS Program for Freshmen Begins This Year

By Sagara Wickramasekara

This year the Media Lab will debut a new freshman program designed to give entering students a chance to perform research and get involved with the Media Lab during their first year.

A different start

Freshmen entering the program will take courses with specially designed recitation sessions within the Media Lab, much like the Integrated Studies Program. Students also take some courses entirely within the Media Lab.

Offering advising seminars and courses is nothing new to the Media Lab, and many students involved in these programs in the past have gone on to do UROPs or otherwise become involved with the Media Lab.

“We were trying to find some way of tying it together,” said V. Michael Bove ’83, principal research scientist and head of the Media Arts and Sciences first year program. “Basically, [we started the program] to provide a bit more structure for freshmen” involved in the Media Lab.

Students entering the MAS first-year program will take Introduction to Solid-State Chemistry (3.091) and Physics I (8.01), in the mainstream with recitations taught from the Media Lab. Freshmen additionally take a mathematics course entirely in the mainstream as well as one of three MAS seminars.

In the second semester, not only will the freshmen in the program take courses taught directly out of the Media Lab but will also be matched up with a UROP for credit.

Those with AP credit for chemistry or physics will not be able to participate in the program, but the Media Lab seminars and courses are also offered to anyone interested. Bove didn’t think it would affect students’ chances of getting a UROP as, “Usually we have more than 24 [freshmen in advising] who take UROPs.”

Plans for the future

If the program runs as smoothly as expected, Bove plans to make it permanent and perhaps expand on the current curriculum. “We could add a different flavor of Chemistry, maybe Biology,” noted Bove. Mathematics will remain mainstream as long as the program remains small, since many freshmen will probably have different course placement, unlike in the general core.

“It will be a learning experience,” said Bove. “We hope to do something to make it different.”

This is the first year of the program in an experimental five year run. Five years will allow the program to demonstrate how many students decide to return to MIT for graduate school.

As Bove remarked,“We hope, to some extent, to alter their vision of the future.” The program also provides for the prospect of an oft proposed undergraduate major in the Media Arts and Sciences as well. The MAS degree currently exists only on the graduate level.

An open house for the program will be held today in the lower lobby of the Media Lab (E15) from noon to 2 p.m. Freshmen will be able to meet with professors of the new program.

For freshmen interested in applying, applications will be taken from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. on Wednesday. The list of those accepted will be posted by 6 p.m.

More information is available at <>