Before freshman orientation begins, incoming students have the option of taking one of numerous Freshman Preorientation Programs, designed to help them learn more about themselves and offerings at MIT, explore Boston and Cambridge, and develop friendships with fellow freshmen, current students, and faculty. Students built and programmed a LEGO robot, tried out the new 3D printers and laser cutters in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering labs, learned about urban development, volunteered in the local community, and built an underwater vehicle then deployed it in an actual ocean environment at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, to name just some of the activities.
In the Discover Product Design program, which is run by members of the MIT Ideation Lab, a mechanical engineering research group studying early-stage design processes, new students visited local design firms, museums, and campus labs and engaged in some design projects of their own. They also documented the entire experience after learning some basic photo composition tips on day one. Photography was stressed as a useful skill in creating a design portfolio and in documenting ethnographic research to inform the design process. At the end of five days, the 22 students each submitted five photos that best captured the program. Co-coordinators Justin Lai '07, SM '09 (a PhD student) and Josh Velasquez '08 then selected a few from each to create a photo essay. A couple of the images are below. View the complete essay in chronological order or each student's portfolio.