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Campus visitors go the extra mile

MIT Medical contest winner walks 12 miles during MIT open house on April 30
Visitors to MIT's open house on April 30 show off their free pedometers from MIT Medical.
Visitors to MIT's open house on April 30 show off their free pedometers from MIT Medical.
Photo: Kateryna Odyntsova

Michael Lu has gotten to know MIT pretty well over the years, but his in-depth exploration of campus during MIT's “Under the Dome” open house on April 30 won him a brand-new iPad.

There were an estimated 20,000 visitors on campus that day, and 1,800 of them picked up free pedometers given out by MIT Medical. They were invited to check in that afternoon to record the number of steps they took with the highest number winning the iPad. Lu, 18, a high school senior from Bedford, Mass., took first place with 24,809 steps — a distance of about 12 miles. Amazingly, three other people also recorded more than 20,000 steps, though Lu beat his nearest competitor by 400 steps.

Lu was already familiar with the MIT campus from participating in several Educational Studies Program offerings for middle-school and high-school students and attending MIT’s summer day camp as a youngster. His mother, Li Li, is a research specialist in the chemistry department.

During the open house, Lu walked around campus with two of his high school classmates. “Our environmental science teacher told us that if we went to the event and wrote down some of our thoughts about what we found interesting, we would get credit for an assignment, so a few of us decided to check it out,” said Lu, who plans to attend Rochester Institute of Technology next year and is considering a career in biotechnology.

What caught his eye during his travels? “I thought the gallery of engineering stuff in the athletic center was interesting. They had a lot of different machines and concepts made by different students and were generally very clever,” he said. “The solar charging chairs that were in front of Killian Court were also a very interesting concept.”

As for the distance he covered, 12 miles is nothing out of the ordinary for Lu. “I suppose I usually walk about 10 miles or so when I go out and do something. I'd also just returned from a school trip to Belize a week before the open house, so I was used to large amounts of walking daily,” he said. “I really enjoy walking. It’s quiet and peaceful, and it's a great time to just think. I usually walk around my neighborhood for at least half an hour every day.”

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