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Class of '51 funds faculty innovation

For the second year, the MIT Class of 1951 will support creative ideas by faculty members for improving undergraduate education.

The Class of '51 Fund for Excellence in Education is an endowed fund created by the Class of 1951 at its 40th reunion to support projects at MIT that enhance undergraduate teaching and education. For the past two years, faculty members have submitted proposals that emphasize innovation and creativity. Funding has been awarded to the following proposals:

  • Collaborative Interaction for Improved Pedagogy. Professor Seth Teller of the Synthetic Imagery Group in electrical engineering and computer science,Professor Julie Dorsey of the Building Technology and Computation Groups in architecture, and two UROP students plan to develop interactive computer tools to build on research in computer graphics and visualization to facilitate the learning of fundamental concepts.
  • Industrial Ecology as a Vehicle for Advancing the Basic Concepts of Chemistry: A New Approach to Teaching 3.091. Professor Donald Sadoway of materials science and engineering has received support to enrich the teaching of Solid State Chemistry by drawing upon environmentally related examples and industrial practice. Among other plans, he intends to intensify the integration of computers through electronic links with various databases.
  • Visual Chemistry. Professor Bruce Tidor and Melinda Cerny of chemistry plan to incorporate computer animation, simulation and display into the weekly lectures of four of the key service subjects in the undergraduate chemistry curriculum. Chemistry instructors will learn how to prepare video presentations of interactive graphical displays in which the principles of macromolecular construction can be illustrated to classes of all sizes.
  • Teaching Modules in Environmental Policy. Professor Stephen Meyer of political science plans to develop a set of teaching modules that encourage students to draw their own conclusions about the way environmental policy is formulated and the role of science and technology and scientists and engineers in that process. The teaching modules will consist primarily of in-depth case studies of significant events or periods in environmental policy making.
  • From Russia with Love, Part II. Professor Robert Rose of materials science and engineering and Concourse and Dr. Yuri Chernyak will develop problems in electricity, magnetism and thermodynamics based on Russian math and science traditions that will be used in Concourse group problem-solving sessions as well as for some students in Concourse 8.02. Last year, the reaction of Concourse students to the problems developed by Professor Rose and Dr. Chernyak-also supported by the Class of '51 Fund-was so encouraging that a book of "infuriatingly challenging brainteasers" was produced. The Chicken from Minsk has just been published by Basic Books.

"I am delighted that the Class of '51 fund has chosen to endorse this initiative with their generous support," Professor Sadoway said. "These are hard times financially, so it's very gratifying when alumni continue to show their commitment to education by reinvesting in MIT."

The selection committee included Professor Arthur C. Smith, dean for undergraduate education and student affairs, as well as the deans of the five MIT Schools and the Class of 1951 officers.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on June 7, 1995.

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