An Afternoon with Tom Chapin
Original proposal submitted in January 2010
Event occurred May 2010
Tom Chapin is a Grammy-nominated children’s musician whose music is noted for its intelligent lyrics and inspiring messages, many with science themes. This one-time event brought him to campus to give a free concert followed by a reception.
Graduate students with children are sometimes overlooked in MIT event programming. Holding an event with top-notch children’s entertainment brought together many graduate student families from both on and off-campus, as well as families of some faculty and staff, for one unique and inspiring event. The reception afterward promoted interaction between people who would not normally meet.
This proposal was submitted by the spouse of a graduate student as an individual (rather than on behalf of a student group). After funding was in place, she recruited volunteers and got help from various student groups and house governments to help plan, advertise, and run the event.
An estimated 175 people attended the concert and mingled after the reception. Comments collected from attendees after the event indicated a strong interest in additional events of this nature. This event gave graduate families an opportunity to connect with each other and to celebrate their contribution to the diversity of the graduate community. It also exposed them to the groups who helped with the event.
Original proposal submitted in February 2003
The Muddy Charles Pub hosts a diverse cross-section of MIT graduate students from every School, department, lab, residence, and affinity group in an informal setting each Wednesday. After establishing itself over the first two years of funding, this series is now funded on an ongoing basis. This is one of several successful Grant programs that are marked by inclusiveness, broad participation, and a consistent schedule.
Open to the entire graduate community, it builds community by providing a casual gathering place on a regular basis where all are welcome. A consistent favorite, Weekly Wednesdays has acheived broad participation.
This event has a very low cost per person, as the budget includes only chicken wings and other nibbles. Guests purchase their own beverages. Weekly Wednesdays has responsible leadership on an ongoing basis, and a permanent venue in the Muddy Charles.
Weekly Wednesdays allows people to mingle outside of a strictly academic setting. Attendance estimates are kept, which show a consistent strong attendance from across the Institute. Comments about the personal impact are also collected from attendees.
Original proposal submitted in October 2006
Website: https://familynet.mit.edu/ (certificates or login needed)
MIT FamilyNet is an online community where members can network and share information via the searchable member database and member-initiated groups and forums on a variety of topics, which include parenting, child care, English language learning, housing, health and insurance, employment, and educational opportunities, among others. This project accomplished quite a lot in its original funding cycle, and funding was renewed to continue and expand the work. This is one of several successful grants that create a lasting structure through which the MIT graduate community can connect.
Of particular interest on this site were features that allowed parents to meet each other online, and to exchange babysitting and other child care information. Through this online medium, parents and families form new connections.
The proposal included both professional programming, and substantial volunteer involvement. Issues such as security and usability were rigorously examined. Proposals of this nature should have a well-researched plan for implementation.
The networking and support that happens online goes beyond cyberspace to “real world” interactions that makes life easier for MIT families. Metrics include number of users, and frequency of use.
Original proposal submitted in October 2006
An intensive five-day seminar takes place during IAP to introduce graduate students in science and engineering to the “nuts and bolts” of science policy. The seminar includes a series of lectures by the Director of the MIT Washington Office, Dr. William Bonvillian, on the mechanics of science policy and federal research budgeting. This grant was well-run in is first year, and received a funding renewal. It is one of several successful grants that are marked by an intensive structure, substantial content, and a focus on a smaller group of people.
Students emerge with a sharper understanding of science policy and a cohort of peers at MIT. Through the intensive structure of the event, lasting connections are formed between individuals.
Projects like these enjoy a well-developed program of events, a strong moderator/lecturer, and a team of organizers. There should be a way for individuals to keep in touch an continue the conversation.
The goal is to get people with this common interest together to learn and promote thoughtful discussion, and create long-lasting relationships. The success of the program is determined by participant numbers and other “vital stats,” as well as the degree to which participants interact and keep in touch.