An MIT Alumni Association Publication

Graduates: Lessons from MIT Alumni (2019 edition)

  • Julie Fox
  • Slice of MIT

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This week, nearly 3,000 graduate and undergraduate students will receive degrees from MIT, joining the cohort of roughly 139,000 alumni. No matter where they’re headed, they will continue to learn from their peers and, hopefully, from the MIT alumni who came before them. To that end, here are a few tips gleaned from Slice of MIT’s alumni coverage over the past academic year.   


1. Teamwork makes the dream work. 

Steven Lefkowitz ’00 and JaNette (Kelly) Lefkowitz ’00 took MIT collaboration to the extreme when they teamed up with seven other alums to break the world record for largest all-MIT skydiving formation—in the shape of a T for Tech.

Pictured above: (front, from left): Banks Hunter ’15, Steven Lefkowitz ’00, JaNette (Kelly) Lefkowitz ’00, Rob Radez ’06. (back, from left): Maggie Reagan ’16, Eric Van Albert ’14, Swati Varshney PhD ’16, Mark Hilstad SM ’02.


2. Turn your frustrations into opportunities

Robert G. Gottlieb ’60, SM ’61 was exasperated by a wrench that kept slipping, so he created one that wouldn’t. His invention became one of the most popular tools on the planet: the Stanley Tools 85-610 Locking Wrench.


3. Find the possible within the impossible

According to Daniel Smalley ’05, MEng ’06, SM ’08, PhD ’13, there is a scene from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope that is a “violation of physics”: Princess Leia’s seemingly holographic yet 3D cry for help. But Smalley’s Electro-Holography Research Group is developing technology that could create similar 3D displays in real life, with applications ranging from air traffic control to medical procedures. 


4. One small tweak can make a big impact

While exploring ways to improve energy efficiency, Matthew Pearlson SM ’11 discovered an add-on to existing 3D printing machines that has the potential to transform manufacturing—making equally durable products at a fraction of the weight and cost, and with a fraction of the impact on the environment.


5. Whistle while you (travel to) work.

Continuing a tradition that he started at MIT, Peter Wolfe ’91 commutes each day to and from Boston’s North Station to his Congress Street office while playing his guitar. Plugged into a portable amp and headphones, and unfazed by the stares of passersby, Wolfe starts and ends his day by jamming to the Grateful Dead and Eric Clapton.


Find more inspiration for graduates in last year’s Slice of MIT roundup. And whether you’re a current student or an alumnus/a, visit the MIT Alumni Advisors Hub to connect with alumni for career guidance at every step of your journey.

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