Professor Desiree Plata and the Nepf Environmental Fluid Mechanics Lab featured in Environmental Solutions Initiative video

February 8th, 20182018 News in Brief

Assistant Professor Desiree Plata and the Nepf Environmental Fluid Mechanics Lab were featured in a video from the Environmental Solutions Initiative (ESI). The video gives an overview of ESI at MIT and announces the environmental sustainability minor. The video also highlights environmental laboratories around campus, including Professor Heidi Nepf’s Environmental Fluid Mechanics Lab. Plata discusses how MIT is well suited to address current environmental challenges and transform future innovation practice through incorporation of environmental objectives early in design; she also highlights the human strength of MIT and the ESI’s ability to convene those individuals. Plata officially joins CEE in July. Watch the video here.

Assistant Professor Desiree Plata and the Nepf Environmental Fluid Mechanics Lab were featured in a video from the Environmental Solutions Initiative (ESI). The video gives an overview of ESI at MIT and announces the environmental sustainability minor. The video also highlights environmental laboratories around campus, including Professor Heidi Nepf’s Environmental Fluid Mechanics Lab. Plata discusses how MIT is well suited to address current environmental challenges and transform future innovation practice through incorporation of environmental objectives early in design; she also highlights the human strength of MIT and the ESI’s ability to convene those individuals. Plata officially joins CEE in July. Watch the video here.

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IAP 2018: Highlights of my Externship

February 8th, 2018IAP 2018

By Amy Vogel ‘20 This past month has been absolutely amazing. Last Friday was the last day of my externship at Terreform, so I thought I would highlight my top five experiences at the externship. 5) Finishing my contribution There is almost no better feeling than completing a long-term project. After four weeks of research, overlapping with two weeks of writing, finishing that last sentence felt amazing. I ended up writing fifteen pages on the history of energy in New York City; this will be used as the introduction to the history chapter in the book that TerreformUR (Urban Research) will eventually publish on the project. 4) Book launch party Urban Research, the publishing arm of Terreform, publishes urban design-related books from outside of Terreform as well. On my second week, the office threw a book launch party for their latest publication, Downward Spiral: El Helicoide's Descent from Mall to Prison. It was really cool to learn about what goes into publishing a book, and to meet other people at the party who are also affiliated with Terreform, and/or interested in urban design. The food was delicious, too! 3) Meeting Joe Cunningham One book that was particularly helpful for my research was New York Power. After I discovered this book, I had reached out to the author, Joe Cunningham, to see if he was around to meet with me. Luckily, it worked out in our schedules for him to come to the office on my second-to-last day! His book goes [...]

By Amy Vogel ‘20

This past month has been absolutely amazing. Last Friday was the last day of my externship at Terreform, so I thought I would highlight my top five experiences at the externship.

5) Finishing my contribution
There is almost no better feeling than completing a long-term project. After four weeks of research, overlapping with two weeks of writing, finishing that last sentence felt amazing. I ended up writing fifteen pages on the history of energy in New York City; this will be used as the introduction to the history chapter in the book that TerreformUR (Urban Research) will eventually publish on the project.

4) Book launch party

Urban Research, the publishing arm of Terreform, publishes urban design-related books from outside of Terreform as well. On my second week, the office threw a book launch party for their latest publication, Downward Spiral: El Helicoide’s Descent from Mall to Prison. It was really cool to learn about what goes into publishing a book, and to meet other people at the party who are also affiliated with Terreform, and/or interested in urban design. The food was delicious, too!

3) Meeting Joe Cunningham
One book that was particularly helpful for my research was New York Power. After I discovered this book, I had reached out to the author, Joe Cunningham, to see if he was around to meet with me. Luckily, it worked out in our schedules for him to come to the office on my second-to-last day! His book goes into great detail about the development of New York’s electrical grid. In person, Mr. Cunningham is equally knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the topic, so it was great to meet him and talk to him about my research.

2) Exploring the Transit Museum archives
First of all, the Transit Museum in and of itself is amazingly cool. I went to Brooklyn to visit it during my third weekend, and it was well worth my time. The museum goes through the entire history of New York’s subway system (and some bus history as well). It’s located inside an old subway station, so the tracks are packed with old subway cars which you can even go in and explore for yourself.

Old subway advertisement (as seen in an old subway car at the Transit Museum)

Current subway advertisement

So on the Monday of my last week, I got to go “behind-the-scenes” at the Transit Museum. I visited the Museum archives, and got to look through old books, journals, documents, and photos all related to how the subways were powered. After learning about things such as power plant purchases and company consolidations, it was awesome to see the primary sources that documented these events, as well as some papers written by the engineers I had read so much about.

Transit Museum archives

1) Going away party
On my last day of work, the office put together a going away party for me. It was a lot of fun to celebrate finishing my project, and of course the fact that it was Friday! Everybody signed a copy of Downward Spiral for me, and I am excited to read it, and to have a “souvenir” from Terreform!

I am grateful to Michael Sorkin, an MIT alum, for hosting me at his company, Andrea Johnson for supporting me with my project, and everybody else at Terreform for welcoming me this past month.

I am leaving for Israel at the end of the month. I’ll be working at a transportation lab at the Technion, and I am so excited to meet new people and learn new skills at another internship. Here’s to the next adventure!

 

Amy Vogel spent IAP 2018 doing an externship with Terreform, a small urban design/research firm in the West Village. Terreform is currently working on a project called “New York City (Steady) State,” a multi-volume thought experiment on what would it take for NYC to be completely self-sufficient. Amy worked on the energy volume.

 

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Research from Professor Oral Buyukozturk and junior Stephanie Chin shows the use of volcanic ash reduces embodied energy

February 6th, 20182018 News in Brief

Research from Professor Oral Buyukozturk, research scientist Kunal Kupwade-Patil and junior Stephanie Chin shows that using volcanic ash in place of traditional cement can reduce the embodied energy that goes into manufacturing concrete. Chin has been working in Professor Buyukozturk’s Laboratory for Infrastructure Science and Sustainability since she was a freshman. The research was conducted in collaboration with researchers in Kuwait. The findings were published in the Journal of Cleaner Production. Read more on MIT News.

Research from Professor Oral Buyukozturk, research scientist Kunal Kupwade-Patil and junior Stephanie Chin shows that using volcanic ash in place of traditional cement can reduce the embodied energy that goes into manufacturing concrete. Chin has been working in Professor Buyukozturk’s Laboratory for Infrastructure Science and Sustainability since she was a freshman. The research was conducted in collaboration with researchers in Kuwait. The findings were published in the Journal of Cleaner Production. Read more on MIT News.

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TREX 2018 Day 16: Last Day of TREX

February 3rd, 2018TREX 2018

By Ju Chulakadabba ‘19 On the last day of TREX 2018, we spent most of the day on a plane since we left Hawaii the night before, kept flying from Hawaii to San Fransisco, then San Francisco to Boston. On top of that, our day was relatively short (only 19-hours long) since we lost 5 hours due to timezone change. We were back in Boston! Unlike on the way to Hawaii, I slept pretty much the whole time on the way back. When awake, I took time to reflect on my TREX experience, and what I planed to do in the coming semester. To be honest, I could not believe that my time in Hawaii was already over. I had been waiting for TREX since freshman year and now, it had become one of the greatest memories of my life. It amazed me that in only three and a half weeks, 7 TREXers, 2 TAs, and 3 professors could become so close, so fast. We learned not only science but also life skills. We learned how to conduct fieldwork, how to solve unexpected issues that made our lives challenging, and, the most important thing, we appreciated our existence. This world is beautiful. There are so many things waiting for us to discover. Actually, there are more things to be thankful for, I just cannot express all of them in words. We arrived in Boston safe and sound a little bit before 5 PM on Friday. Our TA Josh was in charge [...]

By Ju Chulakadabba ‘19

On the last day of TREX 2018, we spent most of the day on a plane since we left Hawaii the night before, kept flying from Hawaii to San Fransisco, then San Francisco to Boston. On top of that, our day was relatively short (only 19-hours long) since we lost 5 hours due to timezone change.

We were back in Boston!

Unlike on the way to Hawaii, I slept pretty much the whole time on the way back. When awake, I took time to reflect on my TREX experience, and what I planed to do in the coming semester. To be honest, I could not believe that my time in Hawaii was already over. I had been waiting for TREX since freshman year and now, it had become one of the greatest memories of my life. It amazed me that in only three and a half weeks, 7 TREXers, 2 TAs, and 3 professors could become so close, so fast. We learned not only science but also life skills. We learned how to conduct fieldwork, how to solve unexpected issues that made our lives challenging, and, the most important thing, we appreciated our existence. This world is beautiful. There are so many things waiting for us to discover. Actually, there are more things to be thankful for, I just cannot express all of them in words.

We arrived in Boston safe and sound a little bit before 5 PM on Friday. Our TA Josh was in charge of taking all the soil samples back to MIT. Because everyone else seemed to be really tired and lived relatively far away from Parsons, James, Chang, and I volunteered to help Josh out. Just like on the way to Hawaii, we fit all of the crates and suitcases into two Uber XLs. The cold and the classic Boston traffic did not bother us that much. We eventually arrived at Parsons and moved all of our items into the basement storage. We will be reunited with these crates next week, once we start our 1.092 class.

Josh ’19 was so happy to see all the luggages and crates arrived in Boston safely

Our crates were secured in the Parsons’ basement storage

Every year, a group of MIT students and professors travel to the Big Island of Hawaii to gain fieldwork experience through TREX (Traveling Research Environmental EXperiences). The first TREX trip was held in 2000, and since launching has taken students on research activities in domestic and international settings. For more undergraduate opportunities, click here.

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TREX 2018 Day 16: Epilogue

February 2nd, 2018TREX 2018

By Joey Noszek ’20 Our last day in Hawaii was interesting. We began the day by canoeing in the Pacific Ocean. Afterward, we toured a coffee plantation in Kona. And we ended the day with dinner at Kanaka Kava, a kava bar, where I finally had some genuine Hawaiian pork. But I do not want to talk about today. No, I would rather reflect on this trip. Hawaii is a beautiful place. I have been told that many times throughout my life and I was finally able to confirm it for myself. I have also been told, though, that I would not want to leave. That is something with which I cannot agree. While Hawaii is a great place to visit, I have a love for the bustle of cities that cannot be overshadowed by any physical beauty. I guess that this is proof that I belong in the Systems Core. Now, I only visited the Big Island. If I went to Honolulu, my outlook may be different as it is much more urban and they are currently building a new rail transit system there. This was my second experience in research and I must say that it was substantially more exhilarating than the first. There is something about field work. Something arose from going out into the world and collecting data that gave me a particular feeling of ownership. I wanted to complete the project because I felt that it was my research. In addition, this research confirmed my [...]

By Joey Noszek ’20

Our last day in Hawaii was interesting. We began the day by canoeing in the Pacific Ocean. Afterward, we toured a coffee plantation in Kona. And we ended the day with dinner at Kanaka Kava, a kava bar, where I finally had some genuine Hawaiian pork. But I do not want to talk about today. No, I would rather reflect on this trip.

Hawaii is a beautiful place. I have been told that many times throughout my life and I was finally able to confirm it for myself. I have also been told, though, that I would not want to leave. That is something with which I cannot agree. While Hawaii is a great place to visit, I have a love for the bustle of cities that cannot be overshadowed by any physical beauty. I guess that this is proof that I belong in the Systems Core. Now, I only visited the Big Island. If I went to Honolulu, my outlook may be different as it is much more urban and they are currently building a new rail transit system there.

This was my second experience in research and I must say that it was substantially more exhilarating than the first. There is something about field work. Something arose from going out into the world and collecting data that gave me a particular feeling of ownership. I wanted to complete the project because I felt that it was my research. In addition, this research confirmed my love for data analysis. While I did not enjoy performing data analysis for the long durations that occurred on this trip, I definitely felt enjoyment for a significant chunk of the analysis time. There is a certain joy that comes from scouring a mountain of data until you create some representation of the data that actually makes sense.

And now that I am done blogging about TREX, here is a sunset.

 

Every year, a group of MIT students and professors travel to the Big Island of Hawaii to gain fieldwork experience through TREX (Traveling Research Environmental EXperiences). The first TREX trip was held in 2000, and since launching has taken students on research activities in domestic and international settings. For more undergraduate opportunities, click here.

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TREX 2018 Day 15: Last Day in Hawaii

February 2nd, 2018TREX 2018

By Ju Chulakadabba ‘19 Two weeks in Hawaii went by so fast. Today, our plan was to pack everything up, canoe in the ocean, and enjoy the last day in Hawaii. We packed everything up in the vans and left the hotel at 9 AM. We then arrived at the canoe club just in time to canoe with an MIT alum and two other club members. We had 12 people in total (7 students, 1 TA, 1 professor, and 3 people from the club) and canoed two 6-people canoes that were bridged together. Canoeing together was a challenge. Twelve of us needed to synchronize. We had to follow the canoe leader and trust the steerer. Even though we might paddle in the different sides or different canoes, we still needed to make sure that our movements happened at the same time. Canoeing was a truly great experience. The sky was clear because of the Kona winds from the south, so we could see the edge of Mauna Loa clearly and the neighbor islands like Maui. A quick break when we canoed  After we canoed for about two hours, we headed to Walmart to pick up some packing materials and then headed to our storage unit. At the storage unit, we packed and organized things that we did not want to bring back to MIT. We left chemistry kits, equipment, cooking utensils, soil sample collectors, and many more items. We needed to organize and write down all the items in the storage [...]

By Ju Chulakadabba ‘19

Two weeks in Hawaii went by so fast. Today, our plan was to pack everything up, canoe in the ocean, and enjoy the last day in Hawaii.

We packed everything up in the vans and left the hotel at 9 AM. We then arrived at the canoe club just in time to canoe with an MIT alum and two other club members. We had 12 people in total (7 students, 1 TA, 1 professor, and 3 people from the club) and canoed two 6-people canoes that were bridged together. Canoeing together was a challenge. Twelve of us needed to synchronize. We had to follow the canoe leader and trust the steerer. Even though we might paddle in the different sides or different canoes, we still needed to make sure that our movements happened at the same time. Canoeing was a truly great experience. The sky was clear because of the Kona winds from the south, so we could see the edge of Mauna Loa clearly and the neighbor islands like Maui.

A quick break when we canoed 

After we canoed for about two hours, we headed to Walmart to pick up some packing materials and then headed to our storage unit. At the storage unit, we packed and organized things that we did not want to bring back to MIT. We left chemistry kits, equipment, cooking utensils, soil sample collectors, and many more items. We needed to organize and write down all the items in the storage neatly so that next year’s TREXers would not have troubles finding things.

Once we finished packing, we divided into three groups. One group went to deploy a few more sensors, one went to the beach, and one went to a coffee plantation. I was in the group that went to the coffee planation. At the coffee farm, we tasted different types of Kona coffee, learned the process of making coffee, and got some fresh coffee products home.

Coffee cherries and flowers at the coffee plantation

The last thing we had scheduled before heading to the airport was to have dinner as a group for the last time. I recommended going to the same place that Chang, James, and I went two days before since they had good Hawaiian food. My group had some free time to walk around the area before we had to meet up with everyone, so we bought some souvenirs. Joey, James, Chang, and I got Hawaiian shirts and decided to wear them immediately. We looked pretty touristy, but we had no shame since it was our last day in Hawaii. Another thing that we did to kill time was watch the sunset in Hawaii for one last time. The sunset was spectacular as usual. Once everyone arrived at the restaurant, we enjoyed eating a lot of traditional Hawaiian food. Some people on the trip tried Kava for the first time and, unlike me, they liked it. Once we finished dinner we headed to the airport and it was time to say goodbye to Hawaii.

Chang watching the sunset

Every year, a group of MIT students and professors travel to the Big Island of Hawaii to gain fieldwork experience through TREX (Traveling Research Environmental EXperiences). The first TREX trip was held in 2000, and since launching has taken students on research activities in domestic and international settings. For more undergraduate opportunities, click here.

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