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Collaborating for MIT’s Future poster session offers community insights and inspiration

For the fifth year, the poster session brought together colleagues from across MIT to learn about new projects and partnerships.
people smiling and talking in front of scientific posters
Photo: David Sella
People milling in front of a large display saying "Poster Session 2018: Collaborating for MIT’s Future"
Photo: David Sella

The annual poster session, “Collaborating for MIT’s Future,” provided a high-energy setting to learn about MIT projects that serve the community and the wider world. Held on the top floor of the Media Lab, the poster session featured 59 posters and 133 presenters from more than 40 MIT departments, offices, and groups. Along with the collegial atmosphere and tasty food, the poster session gave attendees an insider’s view of MIT beyond their own department, lab or center.

Some posters were about new services, others offered “how-to” or “for your awareness” insights, still others highlighted partnerships and forward-looking collaboration. Here’s a small sample that shows the variety and vibrancy of the 2018 posters.

3-D printing

Did you know that MIT Copytech offers 3-D printing in collaboration with MIT’s Project Manus? Project Manus was looking for a place where 3-D printers could operate around the clock and where fees ($5 per hour) could be collected. Copytech now has two 3-D printers in their Room 11-004 location; the printed objects are made of a plastic filament derived from renewable resources, such as corn starch or sugarcane.

Steve Dimond, the manager of Copytech, notes that the 3-D printers are very popular with students, who often use them to make prototypes related to their lab work. But the printers can also be used to make gifts. One memorable print job featured 12 skulls, based on the true story of Phineas Gage, a railroad foreman man who survived an iron bar passing through his head.

The 3-D printers have cameras in them, so Copytech staff can check on them during off hours to make sure they’re running as expected. They’re viewable during Copytech’s regular business hours.

To find out more about 3D printing through Project Manus and Copytech, see the 3-D printing FAQ.

New human resources website

MIT Human Resources has launched, which integrates the former HR, careers, and new employee websites into one comprehensive resource. The MIT HR Communications team, in collaboration with design consultants and partners across MIT, held interviews and focus groups and conducted multiple rounds of usability testing to ensure that the new site meets the needs of current employees, prospective employees, and retirees. The new website is easier to navigate, more intuitive, and centered on what users need and how they search.

The discovery process revealed that managers at MIT felt they had to go to multiple areas of the HR website to get the information they needed to do their jobs (e.g., one place for onboarding, another for compensation, an yet another for staffing services). This resulted in a new design that brings all of that content together in a new, role-based section for managers. There are similar sections for new employees, current employees, and retirees.

The redesigned website also includes an HR Knowledge Base, which helps users find answers to their HR “How do I?” questions.


PubPub is a platform for open access publishing by research communities, ranging from independent researchers and labs to conference organizers and book publishers. It’s sponsored by the Knowledge Futures Group, a joint initiative of the MIT Press and the Media Lab.

The focus of PubPub is user engagement and building community around publications, along with the different types of learning this engagement can spread. Its goal is to create a publishing tool for any open access community. Anyone can now create their own PubPub account and build a publishing community. 

One compelling example of PubPub’s use has been to document the Celebrating Millie conference, held in honor of late Institute Professor Mildred Dresselhaus last November. Dresselhaus’s granddaughter Shoshi Cooper transcribed and edited all of the speeches and uploaded stories and multimedia images from the conference posters. The resulting website has allowed people who couldn’t be at the conference to share in the experience. It’s also enabled conversations with people Dresselhaus inspired and discussions about her work. 

Parking made easy

MIT’s Parking and Transportation Office launched a new parking application in Atlas that mirrors a new parking program. The application, accessible with a Kerberos account, provides MIT parking account holders with their own dashboard, including account, billing, and ticket details.

The parking application features ease of use and automation. Parking stickers are a thing of the past: your parking account now renews automatically until you choose to close it. When you need to make a change — say, to enter information about a new car – these data will be active in the system within a day of entry.

There’s also a version of the application for parking coordinators on campus allowing them to view the status of parkers in their area and manage departmental vehicles.

The corresponding parking program expands the flexibility of daily rate parking to ungated lots through the use of license plate recognition technology; a vehicle goes around campus scanning plates, reading them to confirm you have a parking account for that area and charging you the same daily rate charged for parking in assigned gated lots. Paying a daily rate rather than a set amount each month provides flexibility to commuters, who can choose each day what mode of transport they would like to use. For benefits-eligible employees, this unlocks the benefits of the Access MIT program, including free and unrestricted use of the MBTA subway and local buses.

The energy at this year’s poster session was palpable and the glowing feedback confirms that. Photos of the event are available on Flickr.

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