Even before freshman orientation, some students took part in pre-orientation programs to get a jump on academic and extracurricular activities at the Institute.
The 10 programs sponsored by academic departments gave participants a chance to meet faculty members and UROP students, tour labs and go on field trips to the Big Dig (civil and environmental engineering), MIT's fusion reactors (nuclear science and engineering), and northern New Mexico and Colorado (earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences). Students in the ocean engineering and the mechanical engineering programs built remotely operated underwater vehicles and radio-controlled "soccerbots," respectively.
The first preorientation program was the Freshman Leadership Program begun in 1996. This year's participants gathered at Eagle Pond Lodge in New Hampshire for problem-solving games, a ropes course and workshops as well as sports and campfire gatherings.
In the Freshman Urban Program, activities included building houses and furniture for Habitat for Humanity, a photo scavenger hunt in different neighborhoods of Cambridge and Boston, and working alongside community members at local service agencies including soup kitchens, homeless shelters and the AIDS Action Committee.
The Freshman Arts Program offered a taste of the artistic opportunities in the area, and the Freshman Outdoor Program at the Outward Bound schools on Thompson Island in Boston Harbor and Hurricane Island in Maine, provided outdoor fun and learning.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on August 28, 2002.