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Massiah Foundation awards $80,000 to Terrascope Program

Massiah Foundation announces gift to support a field research trip during spring break in 2010.
The Massiah Foundation has announced that it will give $80,000 to MIT's Terrascope Program to help support its annual field study trip during spring break of 2010.

The Terrascope program, inaugurated in 2002, presents entering freshmen with the opportunity to develop solutions to compelling environmental problems. Students work together in teams to design and develop their own solutions, which are then presented to a panel of experts and the general public.

Since its inception, Terrascope has emphasized the integration of fieldwork with research. Past topics have included creating a plan for the redevelopment of post-Katrina New Orleans, followed by a visit to New Orleans to meet with residents and those charged with planning for the city’s future. Most recently, Terrascope students developed a plan to solve the deepening problem of water shortages in the Southwest, and then visited Arizona to see sites of their year’s study. This year’s freshmen are tackling the multi-faceted issue of carbon sequestration as a means of modifying earth’s climate.

The goal of Terrascope is to train freshmen to think creatively about interdisciplinary problem solving at the start of their academic careers. The field component serves as a reality check on their solution. For example, it is one thing to allocate water usage in the Southwest, quite another to visit the people most affected by it. Field visits help focus students on the problem as well as the full impact of their proposed solutions.

This year, students will study carbon sequestration — the capture, transport, and disposal of the vast quantities of carbon dioxide being produced at ever-increasing rates via the consumption of fossil fuels. Their proposed solution will involve the integration of science, engineering, economics and international politics.

Thanks to the Massiah Foundations award, the students will have the chance to couple their research with the crucial visit to a location where they can best learn about all of the issues associated with climate management.

The Massiah Foundation was established to provide charitable financial support to outstanding organizations with the potential to improve the future of humanity. Since its inception, the foundation has made significant contributions to various learning institutions, universities, children’s organizations, hospitals, cultural organizations, the arts, and general welfare organizations in the United States.

“This incredibly generous contribution will make it possible for another group of MIT undergraduate students to gain a hands-on, field based approach to the myriad issues associated with carbon sequestration,” according to Sam Bowring, Terrascope director and professor of earth, atmospheric, and planetary sciences.

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