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IAP offers academics, movies and charm

More than 800 credit and noncredit courses and activities are available to the MIT community for IAP 2002, which runs from Jan. 7 through Feb. 1.

For more than 30 years, IAP (Independent Activities Period) has provided a unique opportunity for anyone at MIT to organize, sponsor and participate in activities and events according to personal interests.

New courses this year include "MIT 2020," "Introduction to Baseball Rules and Traditions," "The Art and Science of Car Racing," "Silly Putty 101," the first annual IAP chess tournament and the first annual "I Wanna Be a Cyborg Hackfest."

The upcoming IAP also offers a number of courses exploring the causes and consequences of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. One series titled "Where Do We Go From Here?" explores the political fallout of the attacks; another explores the impact of sponsored terrorist activities in countries such as Chile and Cuba.

"Pathways to Peace, Peace Through Engineering," taught by Professor Alexander Slocum and graduate student Ahmed Elmouelhi of mechanical engineering, offers undergraduates a chance to "create a lasting symbol of our appreciation of the many cultural backgrounds at the Institute" by designing inlaid tiles.

A series of lectures and activities focusing on ways to relieve human suffering will be hosted by Sanjay Basu, a senior in brain and cognitive sciences. Basu founded United Trauma Relief, a drug redistribution initiative to help people with AIDS overseas, and was recently named a Rhodes Scholar.

The MIT Libraries will offer several courses on Geographic Information Systems (a tool that works with spatial data referenced by geographic coordinates with applications in fields including environmental engineering, urban planning, epidemiology, archaeology and economics).

Annual IAP favorites return in 2002, including the 11th annual salute to Dr. Seuss; "A Week of Bagel Fun" sponsored by MIT Hillel; the MLK Design Seminar; and 6.270, the famed LEGO robot design competition. The literature faculty again offers "The Pleasures of Poetry" series.

Charm School offers etiquette-related subjects such as interview techniques, coaching in manners and formal fashion guidance, all presented in an informal, light-hearted way. As in previous years, Charm School Commencement will be held at the end of IAP, with "degrees" conferred and speeches duly made.

Another IAP tradition, Professor Linn Hobbs' wine-tasting course, "In Vino Veritas" turns 21 this year. It offers 50 wines for comparative tasting in five lively sessions. Participants must be 21 or older as of Jan. 21 (ID required).

Movie offerings have increased this year, including a Mel Brooks marathon, Richard Feynman films, Chinese kung-fu movies, and individual screenings of "Mildred Pierce" and "The 6th Day."

IAP courses will take some MIT students as far afield as Australia (1.992, "Watershed Pollution in the Nepean-Hawkbury Watershed) and Venezuela (4.23/11.465, "Urban Dwelling Environments Revisited").

The IAP catalogue is also available in Lobby 7, the Student Services Center in Room 11-120.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on December 19, 2001.

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