On Sept. 28, the Better World tour was back in MIT's own neighborhood, at the Boch Center Wang Theatre in downtown Boston. More than 1,000 MIT alumni and friends were in attendance to celebrate the MIT Campaign for a Better World, a galvanizing effort that has gathered momentum and participation since the its public launch in May 2016, at events around the world. Guests who might have thought that listening would be their only role in the program were in for a pleasant surprise. Eran Egozy '95, MNG '95, MIT professor of the practice in music technology, a cofounder of Harmonix Music Systems, and the creator of "Guitar Hero," kicked off the evening by inviting the audience to join him in a classic MIT experiment. Using a new music application called "Tutti" (Italian for "together") and audience members' cell phones, Egozy transformed the audience into an orchestra for a rendition of "Engineered Engineers," a composition created for the event by Evan Ziporyn, the Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor and Music and Theater Arts chair.
The central hub of Boston's 2017 HUBweek celebration last week was a remarkable sight: a sprawling village of over 80 shipping containers transformed into a brightly painted celebration of art, technology, and innovation, bustling with people exploring the towering crates. Perhaps no container better celebrated the intersection of art and technology than the MIT -- For a Better World exhibit, where visitors could watch colorful murals come to life with augmented reality and talk to student researchers about technology ranging from a rubbery robot that identifies leaky pipes, to an ankle exoskeleton that gives walkers a boost. The exhibit embodied the MIT Campaign for a Better World, which has a simple goal: to use the vision and talent of people at MIT to take on urgent global challenges. "The idea that MIT is working to make a better world is something that we want to get out to the greater community beyond MIT," explains Barbara Malec, MIT's creative director of Resource Development and one of the masterminds behind the display. "I think the more people know about and experience MIT, the more broadly we can continue our tradition of delivering new knowledge and solutions to the world."
In 1868, the fledgling Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Boylston Street awarded its first diplomas to 14 graduates. Since then, it has issued paper credentials to more than 207,000 undergraduate and graduate students in much the same way. But this summer, as part of a pilot program, a cohort of 111 graduates became the first to have the option to receive their diplomas on their smartphones via an app, in addition to the traditional format. The pilot resulted from a partnership between the MIT Registrar's Office and Learning Machine, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based software development company. The app is called Blockcerts Wallet, and it enables students to quickly and easily get a verifiable, tamper-proof version of their diploma that they can share with employers, schools, family, and friends.
Ritu Raman, a postdoc in the Langer Lab at MIT, has been honored as one of five recipients of the 2017 L'Oréal USA For Women in Science Fellowship. The L'Oréal USA For Women in Science Fellowship recognizes female scientists at a critical stage in their careers and supports them with $60,000 grants to advance their postdoctoral research. The announcement was made on Oct.10 in conjunction with Ada Lovelace Day -- an annual event aimed at raising the profile of women in STEM. The fellows were chosen based on their intellectual merit, research potential, scientific excellence, and their commitment to supporting women and girls in science. As part of the honor, the recently-selected fellows have the freedom to apply their grants to enhance their postdoctoral research in any way they see fit.
How do people assign a cause to events they witness? Some philosophers have suggested that people determine responsibility for a particular outcome by imagining what would have happened if a suspected cause had not intervened. This kind of reasoning, known as counterfactual simulation, is believed to occur in many situations. For example, soccer referees deciding whether a player should be credited with an "own goal" -- a goal accidentally scored for the opposing team -- must try to determine what would have happened had the player not touched the ball. This process can be conscious, as in the soccer example, or unconscious, so that we are not even aware we are doing it.
Every year 40,000 women die from breast cancer in the U.S. alone. When cancers are found early, they can often be cured. Mammograms are the best test available, but they're still imperfect and often result in false positive results that can lead to unnecessary biopsies and surgeries. One common cause of false positives are so-called "high-risk" lesions that appear suspicious on mammograms and have abnormal cells when tested by needle biopsy. In this case, the patient typically undergoes surgery to have the lesion removed; however, the lesions turn out to be benign at surgery 90 percent of the time.
Now, research from MIT suggests a different approach to reducing the rate of fouling and thus improving the efficiency of RO plants. Many experts believe that the high pressure in an RO system compresses the microbial mats that grow on the membranes, and that this "compaction" makes the growth much harder to remove. "The observation that forward osmosis membranes are easier to clean is fairly robust," says Lienhard, who is the Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Water and Food and director of the Center for Clean Water and Clean Energy and of the Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security Lab. This research "debunks the broadly held belief that pressure causes or complicates fouling in reverse osmosis systems, and the corresponding belief that lack of pressure reduces fouling in forward osmosis systems," says Richard L. Stover, director of the International Desalination Association, who was not involved in this work.
Stefanie Jegelka, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Institute for Data, Systems, and Society, won a DARPA Young Faculty Award. Hal Abelson and the MIT App Inventor Group, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, won the Mass Technology Council Distinguished Leadership Award. Daniela Rus, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and head of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, won the Joseph F Engelberger Robotics Award for Education. Xuanhe Zhao, departments of Mechanical Engineering and Civil and Environmental Engineering won the Young Investigator Medal from the Society of Engineering Science.
In all, the IIC awarded $150,000 to each of the four grand-prize winners, and $35,000 each to 12 runners-up competing in four categories: Financial Inclusion; Income Growth and Job Creation; Skills and Matching; and Technology Access. EFL (Financial Inclusion category): Three billion people worldwide lack the credit history lenders require to make a loan. Digital Citizen Fund (Technology Access) helps girls and women in developing countries gain access to technology, virtually connect with others across the world, and obtain necessary skills for success. New Day (Skills and Matching) is a smartphone-centric, low- to mid-income employment platform for developing markets worldwide, enabling scalable and rewarding job matching, skills building, and employer transparency.
But, for several years, the 180-square-mile nation of 77,000 people has served as a "living lab" for researchers from MIT Media Lab's City Science Initiative to prototype, deploy, and test urban innovation. In 2014, Andorran government officials met with Larson's City Science Initiative to discuss collaboration opportunities. This sparked a partnership in which Andorra would fund the City Science Initiative to develop projects related to data collection and analysis, urban mobility, urban planning for a new innovation district, and sensors deployed in schools for learning. By visualizing how thousands of tourists come and go to major events throughout the year, for instance, CityScope helped the Andorran government improve the experience and analyze the impact of the events, says Josep Maria Missé, Andorra's secretary of state for economic diversification and innovation.