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CMI Sends 33 MIT Students to Cambridge

Cambridge Students, Program Alums Offer Encouragement to Departing Engineers

By Christine R. Fry

The Cambridge-MIT Institute (CMI) student exchange program held a celebration Wednesday evening to officially send off the 27 MIT students who left Thursday to spend the next year at Cambridge University in England. The celebration was also an opportunity to extend yet another welcome to the 33 Cambridge University students who have already begun their year at MIT.

The CMI exchange program began last year when nine MIT students ventured to Cambridge to spend the year studying in their respective majors. This year the program was expanded to accommodate a total of 60 transfer students. Although there are currently only seven MIT departments that are participating in the exchange, Kirk D. Kolenbrander, Associate Program Director of CMI, hopes that the program will expand even more in the coming years. The main difficulty in expanding the program is coordinating the curriculum at the two schools so that students won’t have much difficulty receiving appropriate credit for coursework.

“Ideally, within the next year or so, any MIT undergraduate who wishes to participate will be able to,” Kolenbrander said.

Vest wishes students farewell

Many high-ranked MIT administrators attended the celebration, including President Charles M. Vest. Vest, in his speech to the group, called the program “an alliance of two great institutions.”

“This has really been a dream, a labor of love,” Vest said enthusiastically to the crowd.

The program director on the Cambridge University side, David Good, was also excited about the program as he spoke to the exchange students.

“You’re the builders now. It’s up to you.”

In addition to brief speeches by administrators, the exchange students from last year were allowed to share their experiences through a video. The video was a collection of short skits with topics ranging from one student’s addiction to operas and ballet to “How to speak English.”

Previous students offer advice

Before and after the speeches, the current and former exchange students could be seen swapping stories and tips for surviving Cambridges on either side of the ocean.

The MIT students who will be attending Cambridge this year were encouraged to ask the Cambridge students for advice on life in England.

“Play hard in your first term,” Cambridge University student Faryal Khattak suggested. Khattak described Cambridge, England as “quaint” and “old school.”

Kristen L. Clements ‘02, one of last year’s participants, noted that the biggest difference between MIT and Cambridge was the attitudes of the students. According to Clements, MIT students tend to try to fit into their schedules as many activities, both academic and extracurricular, as they possibly can. She said that at Cambridge she had more time for social activities such as three or four course dinners where students wore their “smart clothes.” These dinners, called formal halls, were an opportunity for students to get to know each other.

Some students were still worried about the journey ahead. Brett A. Whittemore ‘03 is an MIT student who is participating in the exchange this year. His main worry about the exchange is the transition to the Cambridge curriculum. Whittemore says that the classes he will be taking at Cambridge in Course 6, are more electrical engineering-oriented than his classes at MIT.

Cambridge exchange student Ben S.R. Lishman is optimistic about the MIT exchange students’ success.

“I think they’ll be fine. If we’re managing to get by at MIT, they’ll be fine at Cambridge,” he said.