Dear Faculty and Students,
A quintessential part of an MIT education is for students to make things.
We’ve discovered, not surprisingly, that some kinds of making—whether it’s building a robot, analyzing biological samples or creating art—is particularly challenging when learning remotely.
With that in mind, I am pleased to let you know that Martin Culpepper, professor of mechanical engineering and director of Project Manus, and Tolga Durak, managing director of EHS Programs at MIT, will run a pilot program for the summer that incorporates a decision-making framework and wiki for remote making. Visit: https://wikis.mit.edu/confluence/display/make/Remote+Making.
The site, using an intuitive risk-classification system (from green to red) guides undergraduate students and their faculty supervisors through decisions about how to make remotely while putting safety first. (For full details, see this presentation.)
The framework is deliberately broad and situation-dependent. While designed to retain key parts of MIT’s academic and social culture, it is not a “free pass.”
Some activities will require not just faculty approval, but mandated student training, signing a risk acknowledgment, developing a safety plan, and, in rare cases, direct supervision (e.g., at an authorized shop or lab).
The ultimate goal is to “say yes” as much as possible, with the caveat that safety is the top priority. I also recognize that students will have different levels of access to tools and spaces.
For faculty designing courses, I encourage to you work with Marty (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Tolga (email@example.com) to figure out solutions, such as sending components to students directly or adapting projects. Likewise, I encourage students to reach out to their instructors if they need access to particular tools or facilities.
As mentioned, this framework will be piloted over the summer, taking advantage of those students participating in the summer Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). Based upon what is learned with the pilot, the aim is to expand the framework to all students for the fall.
My thanks to Marty, Tolga, and the making and safety communities for creating and running the pilot. If you have any suggestions or questions, please let them, or me, know.
Ian A. Waitz
Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate and Graduate Education
Jerome C. Hunsaker Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautic