Athletics

Adding the word fortis to the MIT motto, 40 runners of the MIT Strong team employed mind, hand, and strength on April 21 in the 118th running of the Boston Marathon. In doing so, the 40 runners raised over $150,000 for the Sean A. Collier Memorial Fund.

On the 26.2-mile route from Hopkinton to Boston, the runners, ten of whom are alumni, had plenty of inspiration.

Along the course were seven cheering stations operated by volunteer alumni and friends of MIT. On the streets of Boston one could hear chants of “MIT Strong” as resoundingly as “Boston Strong.” And from the field of over 36,000 runners, the team earned plenty of encouragement along the way.

Dava Newman '89, SM '89, PhD '92. Photo: Dave Conlon.

Professor Dava Newman ’89, SM ’89, PhD ’92. Photo: Dave Conlon. More photos.

It paid off for Maddie Hickman ’11, who earned her finisher medal after five and one-half hours of running.

“The marathon was incredible, one of the best experiences ever,” Hickman said. “The energy along the entire route was amazing, the run was wonderful, and seeing friends throughout was awesome! Thank you so much to the MIT Strong team—to the organizers for making this happen, and to all of you for being such a great community! And special thanks to [teammate] Rachel DeLucas, who told me in January that I could totally run the marathon despite never having run more than a mile before. I never would have done this otherwise.”

Brian Mulcahey ’86 overcame injury, dehydration, and a scary post-race trip to the medical tent. “If ever I experienced an example of mind over body, this race was it,” he said. “By all accounts, I probably should have dropped out by mile 20. However, this was not a year to do that—after last year’s tragedy, the crowd support, the MIT Strong cause, and my 800 miles of training. My mind wouldn’t let my body quit.”

Maggie Lloyd ’12 added: “Those red MIT Strong signs were my motivation throughout the course. They were a constant reminder of why we started this race and why we would finish it strong!” When she picked up her phone at day’s end, Lloyd had messages “from a whole variety of friends–people I’ve known since I was little and people I just met in the past few months were so kind to think of me on this day. I am honored to have made them proud, and to have worn the MIT Strong singlet that day.”

Since the attacks in Boston last year, the MIT Strong team found inspiration in the healing spirit on campus, in their colleagues and fellow students, and from each other in training. At a community rally for the team on Friday afternoon, Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart spoke to the team’s dedication through one of the harshest winters in recent memory.

“They were undaunted by the cold, the ice, the slush, and snow, and the uncleared sidewalks,” said Barnhart. “They ran on, knowing that much greater sacrifices had been made and knowing that all of you were right behind them. They sacrificed a great deal to get here today and they did it to run for us, so that we can show the world that we are still strong, we are a team, and we will keep doing the things that define us as a community.”

Dan Oliver '60 and the team at Friday's rally.

Dan Oliver ’60 and the team at Friday’s rally.

Hickman, who befriended Sean Collier during MIT Outing Club adventures, presented Barnhart with an honorary team singlet at the picnic. Dan Oliver ’60 concluded the rally with a presentation of a poster he had prepared. ”The marathon is not 26.2 miles long,” said Oliver, “it’s 24.8 kilosmoots.”

On Saturday evening, the MIT Alumni Association honored the team and family members at a pre-race dinner at Walker Memorial. On Monday, the team powered through rising temperatures and a crowded field, wending its way through eight cities and towns and over a million spectators. Whether it took them three hours or six hours to finish, the team’s runners made their way to Boylston St. and to a post-race reception at Ashdown House on Monday evening.

The ten alumni runners on MIT Strong were Maggie Lloyd ’12, Mike Gerhardt ’12, Gordon Wintrob ’12, Brian Mulcahey ’86, Dava Newman ’89, SM ’89, PhD ’92, Alex Slocum ’82, SM ’83, PhD ’85, Maddie Hickman ’11, Jeremy Rishel ’94, Stephen Shum ’11, and Dan Oliver ’60.

Before the rally on Friday, the MIT community hosted a ceremony of remembrance marking the one-year anniversary of the death of  Officer Collier. At the ceremony, Professor J. Meejin Yoon unveiled plans for a permanent memorial honoring Collier.

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Slide background L-R: Brian Mulcahy '86, Jeremy Rishel '94, Mike Gerhardt '12, Professor Alex Slocum ’82, SM ’83, PhD ’85
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L-R: Ryan Borker, Adam McCready, Thomas Brand, Jean-Paul Lauture

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L-R: Chad Galts, John Cunniffe, Samantha Carney

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L-R: Jim DiCarlo, Kris Brewer, Dan Oliver '60, Domingo Godoy

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L-R: Sally Miller, Jess Rooney Gallagher, Jenn Gagner, Maddie Hickman '11

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L-R: Madeline Pascolini-Campbell, Bill King, Joseph Azzarelli, Maggie Lloyd '12

Slide background L-R: Professor Nader Tehrani, Stephen Shum SM '11, Charlie Maher, Christina Meagher
Slide background L-R: Professor Dava Newman, Julie Pryor, Rachel DeLucas
Slide background L-R: Stephanie Kloos, Sam Shames, Jonathan Runstadler, Sarah Lewis
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L-R: Gordon Wintrob '12, Tim Mertz, Peter Whincop, Tom Gearty

 

Maggie Lloyd ’12 has dreamed of running the Boston Marathon for years. Since she qualified last fall, she has thought about crossing the finish line every day and what it will mean for her college and her college town, after last year’s violence.

Now, she’ll be making that run with nearly 40 fellow alumni, students, faculty, and friends on the MIT Strong Boston Marathon team in the race’s 118th running.

Maggie Lloyd '12.

Maggie Lloyd ’12.

“I am constantly reminded that this year’s Boston marathon isn’t going to be just another race,” Lloyd says. “I felt helpless after the marathon last year, but I don’t feel that way anymore. What this team is doing is casting aside doubt and fear and showing up in Hopkinton to take back the finish line.”

The team, which formed in January, began with 25 runners committed to raising $4,000 or more. Since then, it has grown to include runners with existing entries who will raise at least $1,000 toward the team’s goals: to honor Officer Collier, celebrate the spirit of the MIT community’s response to the crisis, stand in solidarity with the city of Boston, and support the Collier Fund at MIT.

The runners have no shortage of inspiration. Despite injuries, bad weather, and the typical anxieties of distance running, they are feeling the groundswell of enthusiasm from their peers, family, and alma mater.

Like Lloyd, Mike Gerhardt ’12 has run down Boylston Street before. Last year, however, he was running away from the finish line, amid the chaos, to find safety. Gerhardt and his mother had been there waiting for his father, who was one of the thousands of runners held up on Commonwealth Avenue after the bombs went off.

Later that week, Gerhardt was studying in his room at Zeta Psi when he heard news of an “officer down.” He immediately phoned his dad, a state trooper. “I called him, and he answered, and I just started crying.”

After the bombing, manhunt, and lockdown that week, Gerhardt thought ahead to this year’s race. He grew determined to run. “When I heard about this team, I thought, ‘this is awesome and exactly what I want to do,’” he says.

Brian Mulcahey ’86 has been haunted by memories of the attacks and the stories of Officer Collier and the survivors who continue to struggle to recover.

“Why do I want to do this?  What motivates me to arise at 4:20 a.m. to train in this dark and bitterly cold New England winter?  In a word: passion,” Mulcahey says. “Passion for my alma mater and the amazing spirit it embodies. Passion for honoring Sean’s life and that of the other victims.  Passion for celebrating the progress that hundreds of victims have made since last April.  And passion for showing the world that freedom and compassion will always overcome tyranny and hatred.”

In the aftermath of the bombings, Rich Whalley ’10 saw his parents on live news coverage from the finish line; both had suffered injuries. Whalley’s friend, Gordon Wintrob ‘12, is running the race to support both the Whalleys recovery fund and MIT Strong. “Boston is a magical city and running from Hopkinton to Wellesley to Kenmore Square is an ideal way to experience that magic,” he says.

The team is co-organized by Stephanie Kloos, sophomore Sally Miller, and three staff members: Tom Gearty, editorial director in MIT’s Office of Resource Development, Chad Galts, director of communications for the MIT School of Engineering, and Kris Brewer, webmaster for the School of Engineering. Other alums on the team include Jeremy Rishel ’94, Stephen Shum SM ’11, and Dan Oliver ’60.

Five MIT faculty are on the team, including two alumni. Mechanical engineering professor Alex Slocum ’82, SM ’83, PhD ’85 has already hit his fundraising goal of $5,000 but wants to raise more. “I’m humbled and honored,” says Slocum, “to run for others who cannot. Last year, I felt shock, anger, and sadness. As I run, I’ll be thinking of those killed and hurt last year.”

Professor Alex Slocum '82, SM '83, PhD '85, pictured at the Memorial for Officer Collier. Photo: Reuters.

Professor Alex Slocum ’82, SM ’83, PhD ’85, pictured at the Memorial for Officer Collier. Photo: Reuters.

When she crosses the starting line on April 21 in Hopkinton, Maddie Hickman ’11 will no doubt have last year’s events in mind. As an undergraduate, Hickman met Sean Collier on the MIT Outing Club and they became friends. “We always meant to go jogging together,” says Hickman. “This seems like a fitting tribute.”

For her first marathon, Hickman’s goal is simply to finish. “I will run as slowly as possible,” she says. “I’ll think a lot about Sean along the way.”

Support MIT Strong:

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Nate Silver and Daryl Morey, MBA ’00, at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. (Image via MIT Sloan)

Nate Silver and Daryl Morey MBA ’00 at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. (Image via MIT Sloan)

In February 2007, Daryl Morey MBA ’00 convened a small, one-day conference of about 175 MIT students, sports fans, and professionals. The sessions were held in MIT classrooms and focused on a niche topic—sports analytics, or the use of advanced statistics to employ data-driven strategy in athletics.

Nearly seven years later, thanks in part to the success of that conference, that topic has exploded in relevance, and the annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference (SSAC) has positioned MIT as a pivotal part of the burgeoning sports analytics industry.

“We held the first conference at MIT basically because I was an alum and they were supportive,” says Morey, the SSAC conference co-chair who, in 2004, helped Sloan initiate one of the first MBA programs with a sports analytics courses. “Today, analytics, sports, and MIT makes perfect sense.”

The two-day conference annually attracts a sold-out audience of nearly 3,000 attendees that includes more than 300 owners, players, and representatives from the highest-level professional teams in the U.S. and Europe.

Morey is perhaps the most well-known MIT alum working in professional sports—he is general manager and managing director of basketball operations for the NBA’s Houston Rockets—but he is not alone. Nearly every team in the U.S.’s top professional leagues has created analytic-specific positions to help determine in-game and business strategy, and MIT alumni are a small but growing group that is filling those roles.

Brian Bilello '97

Brian Bilello ’97

“More alumni are getting involved in sports because the analytical skillset is becoming more valuable and more appreciated,” says Brian Bilello ’97, president of soccer’s New England Revolution. “I studied chemical engineering but MIT didn’t necessarily train me to be a chemical engineer. They trained me to solve chemical engineering problems, and I can apply that perspective to my job with the Revolution.”

Sports teams now use analytics to provide a deeper level of analysis beyond traditional data. In baseball, front offices that once relied on well-known stats like home runs and runs batted in now place greater emphasis on advanced metrics like VORP (Value Over Replacement Player), a calculation created by Keith Woolner ’90 that demonstrates how much a player contributes to his team in comparison to a near-average replacement player at the same position.

After graduating from MIT, Woolner worked in software development and system management in Silicon Valley for more than a decade. As a hobby, he wrote stat-heavy articles for Baseball Prospectus (BP), an organization devoted to advanced statistics. In 2007, he parlayed his analysis to a position with the Cleveland Indians, where he works as director of baseball analytics and focuses on metrics for player valuation and game strategy.

“I always viewed my writing as being more of a scientist—I gathered information and presented it,” Woolner says. “In the early days at BP, we were very much the outsiders. By the time I joined Cleveland, I came into an organization that was data-driven and had buy-in towards analytics.”

The outdated idea of a team’s front office is one of retired coaches who have graduated to executive positions. In reality, most teams employ a group with varied expertise that includes scouts, former players, and stat-focused analysts and executives.

Farhan

Farhan Zaidi ’98 (right)

“Front offices today are very balanced—traditional scouting backgrounds mixed with analytics backgrounds,” says Farhan Zaidi ’98, the Oakland Athletics’ director of baseball operations. “Much like MIT, sports now live in a very hypothesis-driven environment. You need to ask the right questions, accumulate the right data, and implement a strategy based on that data.”

While the number-crunching approach to improving on-field performance has gained significant attention—see Moneyball, the 2011 film starring Brad Pitt—teams are also taking an analytical approach unrelated to in-game strategy.

As vice president of business planning and basketball analytics for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns, Zaheer Benjamin MBA ’03 oversees an analytics team that focuses on diverse areas of Suns business, including marketing, ticket sales, and increasing revenue.

“Customer scoring models, for example, are something a lot of other industries do very well and sports is just getting up to speed on,” he says. “We use it to predict how likely season-ticket holders are to renew their ticket packages and align our resources to be as efficient as possible.”

While it continues to grow in popularity—Fast Company named the conference the third-most innovative sports organization in the world in 2012—it remains an MIT-rooted event. The conference’s organizing committee includes more than 60 MIT Sloan alumni and current students.

“That Venn diagram of MIT and sports may never have a ton of people in the middle,” Morey says. “But the MIT skillset fits perfectly with what teams are trying to accomplish. I’ve already hired one MIT alumni. I’d hire five more if I could.”

The 2014 conference takes place Feb. 28-March 1 in Boston and offers reduced-rate tickets for MIT alumni. Visit sloansportsconference.com for more information.

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Alexis Photiades

Alexis Photiades ’91, SM ’92

During Alexis Photiades’ five years at MIT, he earned two degrees and competed in three skiing events in two Olympic Games for Cyprus. Photiades was also a member of MIT’s ski team, qualifying for NCAA Nationals, and captained the tennis team, where he was ranked ninth in the country in NCAA men’s singles. His coach called him “Mr. Everything.”

The only MIT alumnus to participate in three Winter Games (he also competed as a 16-year-old in 1984), Photiades now runs a beverage distribution company based in Cyprus that operates throughout Eastern Europe. He answered 10 questions from Slice of MIT about his lack of sleep during college, life as a freshman Olympian, and similarities between the Games and MIT.

What’s more difficult—graduating from MIT or qualifying for the Olympics?

“Both were difficult, even though qualifying for the Cyprus team is far easier than qualifying for the team of a large country. But graduating from MIT was more precious to me. The experience at MIT has been more impactful in my life. The overall experience shaped my character a lot more than anything else I’ve ever done.”

You participated in two Olympics while you were a full-time MIT student. How difficult was it to balance training and studying?

“I didn’t sleep much. In 1988, my first year at MIT, I was taking course 6.001 as an elective, training with the MIT ski team in New Hampshire, and playing tennis. I was trying to balance all of these things. When I went to the Olympics, I took my books to study. I ended up not doing any work because I was so overwhelmed.”

How supportive were your fellow students?

“The people in my dorm, Conner House, were very excited. They wrote me cards and postcards. When I got back to campus, they had a party for me. It was really nice. I had a hard time catching up with my studies after the Games. The teaching assistants really spent a lot of extra time helping me get back to speed.”

2006 Olympian Pat Antaki ’84 compared the Olympic Village to an MIT dorm. Do you agree?

“That’s a good analogy. Everyone in the village is competitive, ambitious, and focused on their goals. Although I would say there is more camaraderie at MIT than in the Olympic Village.”

What’s more difficult: Competing in the actual Olympic Games or the work it takes just to qualify?

“Qualifying was tough, at least for me, and I was very proud when I finally made the team. But competing in the Olympics was something completely different. My first Olympic race, I was 16 years old. I’ll never forget looking around, seeing the media, plus the big, tough ski slopes and the best competitors in the world. Cyprus is a small country—the Olympics was my first big race.”

Photiades with Hall of Fame tennis player Ilie Năstase in 2013.

Photiades with Hall of Fame tennis player Ilie Năstase in 2013.

Of your three Olympic Games, which one stands out as your favorite?

“I was quite happy with my performance in 1992. I didn’t expect to win any medals coming from Cyprus but I wanted to minimize my difference and be as competitive as possible. I went for it with nothing to lose and nothing to prove. I was very happy with the result.” (Photiades had personal Olympic-best times in the Super G, Slalom, and Giant Slalom in 1992.)

Competing in one Olympics seems like a draining experience, physically and emotionally. What made you return for two more?

“It never crossed my mind to say no. In 1992 I had also qualified for the NCAA Nationals, but when I was asked by the Cyprus coach to return for the Olympics it was an easy choice. It was tough to manage everything, but I never considered saying no.”

How did MIT help you prepare for the Olympics?

“I always remember the MIT routine, like the problem sets that you have to do every week. Each problem set pushed you to the limit. And there’s no other way to excel without pushing your limits. That is the philosophy at MIT.”

What advice do you have for MIT students who are balancing coursework with athletics or other activities? You seem like an expert.

“The more you have to do in your daily schedule, the better programmed, more efficient, and more effective you become. Competitive sports meshes very well with a competitive educational environment like MIT. I didn’t have too much free time at MIT but it was some of the best years of my life.”

Finally, you also represented Cyprus in the Davis Cup international tennis tournaments. What’s your favorite sports, tennis or skiing?

“These days, I’m more of a tennis guy. My age is getting in the way of skiing. But if I look back, I really can’t say. They both played big roles in my life.”

For more information on MIT alumni the Olympics, view an infographic and read a history of alumni Olympians.

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Patrick Antaki '84

Patrick Antaki ’84

In February 2002, 38-year-old Patrick Antaki ’84 was—by his own account—fat and bored. And then he watched the skeleton events at the Winter Olympics.

Four years later, Antaki represented Lebanon at the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy, and is the most recent MIT alumnus to compete in an Olympic Games. The oldest competitor in Skeleton, he finished in 27th place.

Now an entrepreneur and engineer living in Texas, Antaki answered 10 questions about his motivation, his training, and his surprising coach.

What’s more difficult—graduating from MIT or qualifying for the Olympics?

“That’s a tough one—both were four-year projects and required complete commitment. But Olympic training was a full-time activity for four straight years.”

You took your first skeleton run in 2002 and competed in the Olympics in 2006. When you began training, did you believe you would take it that far?

“I was looking for a challenge outside of the scope of anything I had done before—something I wasn’t confident I could achieve. I did some research after watching the ’02 Games. I fell in love with it—complete adrenaline rush! I realized there was potential to go further and I set a goal to qualify for the Olympics.”

In MIT Technology Review in 2006, you wrote, “The U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation …politely snubbed me, which made me all the more determined.” How did that give you more resolve to keep going?

“It was a good thing—it gave me more motivation and I wasn’t subject to U.S. regulations. Since I covered my own expenses and have dual citizenship with the U.S. and Lebanon, it was easy to receive approval from Lebanon.”

You have an MIT degree in electrical engineering and built and installed accelerometers, gyroscopes, and cameras in your sled. How did that help?

“I quickly realized that there was no science developed for the sport. Most people had no idea what they were doing. The technology helped me review my practice runs. I also ran wind tunnel tests that helped determine that my body was crooked (during runs). After the Olympics, I was able to sell the sensors and software I had built to the Canadian National Team.”

Qualifying for the skeleton in the Olympics is a two-year process. Was there any point during training you felt like you might not qualify?

“Qualifying is based on points earned during the previous two race seasons and there is a limited number of slots. It was a 100 percent year-round commitment—lots of time away from home. Not even the top athletes know if they will qualify until the last race. I kept a clear vision of the end-goal. I was lucky to achieve it but it could’ve easily turned out differently.”

Antaki represented Lebanon in the 2006 Winter Olympics.

Antaki represented Lebanon in the 2006 Winter Olympics.

Did you have any coaching?

“I got a lot of help and advice, especially from the United Kingdom. Technically, my son was my coach! He was 16 at the time and accompanied me to the Olympics. Although he didn’t do much coaching (laughs).”

Can you describe the experience of living in the Olympic Village?

“It’s like freshman year at MIT—the big deal is actually getting there. Once you get in, you’re really excited. There were thousands of people from all over the world in one community for a couple of weeks—it was great.”

The average Olympic skeleton race is about one minute, lying face-down and going about 80 miles per hour with no brakes. What do you concentrate on during a race?

“The speed you don’t notice—what you feel are the turns. You don’t see anything except what’s barreling in front of you. The velocity of the run is strictly due to how fast you sprint at the beginning. Once you’re on the skeleton, you focus on control.”

Is there anything different between a regular run and an Olympic run?

“The biggest difference is that, during practices, there is no one around. During the Olympics everyone is watching. My first Olympic run was terrible. I was not mentally ready for the crowds and cameras. I reflected between my first and second run. I made it a point to be more mentally ready and my performance showed it. My second run was better (nearly two seconds faster).”

Your Olympic story is atypical. Aside from a mastery of the skeleton, what’s the most important thing you gleaned from your Olympic journey?

“Ignore conventional wisdom that says you shouldn’t be there because it doesn’t matter. People were laughing at me when I started. I was 50 pounds overweight—they called me the Lebanese Tony Soprano! In the end, I competed in the Olympics when a lot of other people didn’t.”

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MIT alumni and Olympic athletes may seem like two wholly separate groups. But the Institute’s Olympic history stretches back to the first modern games in 1896 when Thomas Curtis 1894 won the gold medal for the U.S. in the 110-meter hurdles.

In the 100-plus years since the first games, Alumni Association research shows that more than 30 alumni athletes have participated in or qualified for at least 25 Olympics and won 10 medals.

Check out the infographics to learn more about Olympian alumni, and for more information, read a history of MIT alumni in the games.

MIT-olympics-450-01MIT-olympics-450-SliceMIT-olympics-450-03MIT-olympics-450-04MIT-olympics-450-Slice-05MIT-olympics-450-Slice-06

MIT’s alumni Olympic records may be inexact. If there is alumnus Olympian that is not included in the list, notify us in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter.

Illustrations by Alan Scott

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Guest Post from the Ask an Engineer series, published by MIT’s School of Engineering

They already have, and they can always get better…

The Denver Broncos will face off against the Seattle Seahawks during Super Bowl 2014 on February 2. Photo: Daniel Spiess from 2012 game.

The Denver Broncos will face off against the Seattle Seahawks during Super Bowl  XLVIII this Sunday. Photo: Daniel Spiess from 2012 game.

Players don’t suffer as many gridiron injuries as they did back at the turn-of-the-century when they strapped on lightly padded leather caps fitted with protective earflaps. But even then, a six-foot-something, 300-pound lineman running full-tilt in your direction was an invitation for injury. It wasn’t until 1938 that hard plastic football helmets made their debut, and ever since, engineers and manufacturers have focused on designing helmets to lessen the risk of concussion and other head and brain injuries on the field.

“It depends on the duration of the impact, but we believe impacts are non-traumatic if they stay below 20 Gs,” says Laurence Young, the Apollo Program Professor of Astronautics and professor of Health Sciences and Technology in MIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics. However, it’s been calculated that larger linemen generate a 20 to 30 G impact on almost every play, and the force on the helmet of a wide receiver in the open field ranges from 40 to 150 Gs.

Today’s helmets do a great job protecting players from injuries such collisions might cause, from skull fractures to subdural hematomas, and advances in their construction and design have reduced football-related deaths to virtually zero over the past 20 years, thanks in part to companies like Simbex. Founded by Rick Greenwald, a research affiliate in Young’s department, the company developed in-helmet sensors to monitor in real time how hard a player is hit, how often, and the direction of the impact. Over the past decade, Greenwald and his team have collected data from thousands of high school and college players across the country resulting in a hit-severity profile they share with helmet manufacturers. The data is instrumental in the development of helmets that effectively reduce the amount of energy absorbed by the head. Their hard outer shell distributes force away from the point of impact, and the liner—typically made of foam, pads, or air-filled cells—absorbs some of that energy and minimizes rotational twisting that could mean torn dendrites and neural damage within the brain.

“It is unlikely that we can develop a helmet that will completely eliminate head injuries,” says Greenwald. “Players get hit hard and they get hit often.” But, he believes, as we better understand the physiology of concussions and other head and brain injuries, helmet design will continue to evolve and the incidence and severity of such injuries will be reduced even more.

Achieving that goal is not without its challenges. Helmets and liners must be comfortable and made of low-cost materials that fit the budgets of parents and school athletic departments. Adding weight to the helmet could lead to other injuries as strain is put on the player’s neck. And the helmet must not be so large that it becomes impractical. It’s no small task, but Greenwald remains hopeful that a balance between safety, appropriate materials, and aesthetics can be reached. “That’s all up to the engineers,” he says.

Authored by Sarah Jensen. Thanks to Jeff Kramer of Sparta, Wisc., for this question. Visit the MIT School of Engineering’s Ask an Engineer site for answers to more of your questions, and ask your own. 

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Guest Blogger: Debbie Levey, CEE Technical Writer

Relocating from Boston to the new 1916 Cambridge campus solved many of MIT’s problems of cramped classrooms and inadequate lab space. However, students complained loudly about the lack of proper athletic facilities. When President Karl Compton announced plans for a new field house at the 1934 commencement, The Tech reported excitedly that the new building would double the current facilities for track, basketball, wrestling, squash, and other sports.

The brand-new Barbour Field House in 1934

The brand-new Barbour Field House in 1934.

Funded by the estate of MIT benefactor Edmund Dana Barbour, construction on the new Barbour field house began that July under the supervision of Professor Walter Voss of the Building Engineering and Construction Department (old Course 17) and Albert Smith, superintendent of buildings and power.

By fall, students marveled at the new one-story building of yellow brick. At the dedication on October 26, 1934, The Tech described how the new athletic center filled “a long felt need in athletics and at the same time replac[ed] one of the campus eyesores.” Lockers to accommodate 1,000 men was “a distinct enlargement over the previous locker space…. Although the building had no windows, skylights filled every room with soft light.”

The Tech reporter concluded, “The entire building is completely air conditioned and is a far cry from the draughty old building that was the hang-out of the athletes previously.”

Like the rest of campus, the field house adapted to different needs during World War II. From 1943 to 1944, much of the space became a temporary civilian cafeteria while military personnel occupied Walker. Campus maps in the early 1950s label it as the student activities building.

As campus expanded, the Barbour Field House was replaced in 1956 by the Compton Laboratories (Bldg. 26) and the Dorrance Building (Bldg. 16). Demolishing the former Westgate veterans’ housing in the late 1950s provided much more space for athletic fields on West Campus. The new Student Center (W20), dedicated in 1965.

As student interest in sports increased, DuPont Athletic Center opened in October 1959 and, unlike Barbour, included a women’s locker room. In 2002, the new Zesiger Center added an Olympic size swimming pool, fitness center, indoor track and flexible space. Today, the vast majority of MIT students participate in some type of physical activity at varsity, club, intramural, or recreational levels.

Thanks to Robert Doane and Ariel Weinberg of the MIT Museum for information and photos.

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Your favorite search engine will tell you that there are about 225,000 instances of the term “MIT golf”out there. Not overwhelming, but it’s more sizable than a search for “CalTech Golf,” which yields a mere 2,000 results.

Source: Pound Ridge Golf Club.

Pound Ridge Golf Club.

Somewhere deep in that query is Ken Wang ’71, who owns Pound Ridge Golf Club and who is hosting the first annual MIT Golf Outing on May 20 in Westchester County, New York. The tournament will benefit MIT’s Department of Athletics, Physical Education, and Recreation.

Offering his course to MIT for a day caps years of service to the Institute.  Currently a member of the corporation, Wang is also a former Alumni Association board president, MIT Club of New York president, and member of over a dozen visiting committees and advisory boards over the years.

But Wang is always eager to advance MIT’s brand into the world of athletics.

“I really believe that as MIT evolves, and the people involved with it evolve, it’s important that we start doing more mainstream stuff,” says Wang. “Plus, it’s just good fresh air.”

Pound Ridge has been a favorite among New York celebrities and politicians over the years. Its challenging 146-slope design came from Pete Dye, who also designed TPC Sawgrass and other world-famous courses.  Wang bought the course in 2008; four years later, Pound Ridge was named second among the New York City area’s top courses by Golf Magazine.

At the tournament to support DAPER, MIT golfers will face Pound Ridge’s signature boulder in the middle of the 13th fairway and pray for luck on the backboard headstone behind the 15th green. But Wang won’t be among them.

“I’ll be there, but I won’t be golfing,” he says, adding, “I’d rather not have my game seen in public!”

Asked to name the best golfer in MIT history, Wang replies, “He’s going to kill me for saying it, but I’d say Robert Turner ’74, who’ll be there. He’s a very good golfer.”

Ken Wang '71. Photo: Tanit Sakakini.

Ken Wang ’71. Photo: Tanit Sakakini.

In an interview on the Golf Trips blog, Wang lists the Blue Monster at Doral as a favorite course and says he prefers Jack Nicklaus over Arnold Palmer.

As for Tiger Woods, Wang says, “I don’t necessarily approve of the shenanigans, but I love Tiger. He’s the most important person in the sport.”

When he’s not thinking about golf, Wang serves as president of the U.S. Summit Corporation, founded by his father CC Wang SM ’45 and three of his classmates. Between these two roles, Wang puts his MIT economics degree to good use.

Wang didn’t golf during his years at MIT, though he loved playing intramural hockey. At times, his relationship with DAPER was less than appreciative. “I didn’t pass the swim test, although I’d like you to know that I could have. I just wasn’t a very competent swimmer, so I took swimming because I hoped it would make me better. I was finally able to splash my way through it.”

Update: We have a winner! The foursome of David Tohir ’79, Brian Tohir, Frank Granito and Sasha Mrdelja finished in first place. Greg Turner ’74, John Wang ’14, Paulina Mustafa ’13 and MIT Director of Athletics Julie Soriero finished in second place. MIT head football coach Chad Martinovich sank a hole-in-one. View a photo gallery of the first annual outing.

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Karen Kinnaman '06 (left) honored alongside colleague Heather Studley at the April 26 Celtics game.

Karen Kinnaman ’06 (left) honored alongside colleague Heather Studley by the Celtics. (Photo: Boston Celtics)

For eleven months per year, Karen Kinnaman ’06—a soon-to-be chief resident of the Harvard Affiliated Emergency Medicine Residency Program—is based out of Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. For the other month, she can be found at Mount Auburn Hospital, a community hospital located in a quiet part of Cambridge, which is where she was on Friday, April 19, 2013.

The early morning of April 19 lives in infamy—the date suspected Boston Marathon bombers engaged in a violent standoff with local police officers in Watertown, MA, a Boston suburb less than one mile from Mount Auburn.

While working in the ER, Kinnaman helped save the life of an individual who was wounded in the shootout. For her efforts, she was part of a group of first responders honored by the Boston Celtics as “Heroes Among Us” during their playoff game with the New York Knicks on Friday, April 26. (The Knicks won, 90-76.)

Karen Kinnaman '06

Karen Kinnaman ’06

“It was a great honor—so overwhelming,” she says. “The emotions from April 19 were still very, very raw. Receiving that fan support was an experience I’ll never forget.”

A teaching hospital, Mount Auburn’s emergency room is not often home to large-scale trauma.

“We weren’t given much heads up, which was a benefit because we had no time to worry, only to react,” she says. “What happened in the emergency room that night was a positive story of hope. It was a testament to the hospital and the people who work there.”

A four-year athlete at MIT, Kinnaman captained the women’s basketball team and earned varsity letters in soccer, track, and cross country. During her senior year, she was named the Malcolm G. Kispert MIT Scholar Athlete of the Year. A course 7 (biology) major at MIT, Kinnaman says her undergraduate education and athletic background provided a strong foundation for her medical career. She attributes much of her professional success to lessons learned at MIT.

Kinnaman_2

“Being able to stay calm under pressure is something I learned from to playing sports at MIT,” she says. “Working in an ER parallels the experience on an athletic field: following your instincts and working together towards a common goal. The emotional highs and lows that take place in an emergency room are similar to the types of emotions you feel in sports.”

At MGH, she has a constant reminder of her time at MIT. Her former basketball assistant coach, Kelly Stubbs, is a nurse in MGH’s emergency department.

“My coaches at MIT always believed in me,” she says. “They instilled in me how to be a good leader in chaotic situations.”

For most Celtics fans, a blowout loss to the Knicks would leave little to cheer about. But the ceremony was a compelling moment that New York and Boston fans shared together.

“I’m actually a huge Knicks fan,” she says. “But on that night I was all in for Boston. It was a perfect night.”

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