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IAP: Students Pick Two Week Vacation Over Six

By Jeffrey Chang


MIT students will be enjoying the annual January break from the daily grind of classes to pursue a wide range of activities this Independent Activities Period. IAP offers everything from crash courses in C++ to calligraphy, internships, conferences, research projects, classes, games, and sports. Some are tackling several different activities, taking full advantage of the myriad of opportunities.

Students multitask during IAP

Clarence Lee ’06 will be working on a UROP with the E-Rationality group at the MIT Media Lab. With others, he will be modifying the Web site and database for The Matchup, an online Internet dating service for area college students.

“We’ll be improving the aesthetics of the Web site, changing the look and feel of it, making it more user-friendly,” Lee said.

Lee will also be working with a team of around ten students to help organize the first annual MIT Tech Fair, the brainchild of Raymond R. Wu ’07.

“The idea is to bring companies like IBM, Bose, and Raytheon to come at the end of IAP and showcase their latest innovations and technologies,” said Lee. The event will take place at the end of January, and “we’re looking to continue the Tech Fair in following years, and make it a tradition,” Lee said.

Alexis R. DeSieno ’05 said her plans changed abruptly Tuesday morning when she found out she was going to be traveling to Durham, England for the CMI Enterprisers program. “It should be a good multicultural experience and a good chance to talk to people... I’m thinking about going into biotech companies in the future, so this is a great opportunity for networking and learning how an entrepreneur works,” DeSieno said.

She had already started an externship at the Cambridge-based pharmaceutical company Genzyme. She said she will continue with the externship immediately upon her return from England and will continue into February to make up for the time lost in England.

Her work at Genzyme involves the analysis of statistics on diseases from incident rates and the geographic distribution of diseases to the financial market for drugs to combat them.

On top of this and helping to plan the Jan. 31 MIT Tech Fair, as the event vice-director and organizing the first annual Biomedical Engineering Career Fair, DeSieno said, “I’m going to try to get in shape for the Boston marathon.”

Jason Park ’05 plans to do some relaxing on top of working on his UROP. As the president of the Asian American Association, he’s planning to do “some low-key fun stuff for people who are still here -- go to Chinatown, maybe some community service, go out and have some fun, and maybe a ski trip,” said Park. Much of his time will also be committed to the volleyball team. “It takes up a lot of time, but it’s always worth it,” Park said.

But what will be the most time-consuming is his thesis/UROP work. “We’re working on gene fabrication -- the ability to make cheaply, efficiently, and quickly, DNA of arbitrary length and sequence,” he said.

Countless other activities are being held this month, some of them wackier than others. Students can take an introduction to fly fishing, tour the Boston Public Library, learn how to make chocolate truffles or roll Japanese sushi, do some blacksmithing, or create stop-motion animation using robots -- and that’s just during the first week.