I’m Not Just “Surviving” As a Social Science Student At a Tech School, I Am Thriving.

When I tell people I’m studying Psychology at IIT, I get some people who look at me like I’ve got a third arm growing out of the top of my head. (Boy, would that drive phrenologists mad)

“WHY would you study Psychology at a tech school?” they ask, incredulously.

IIT offers a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology, with a program based in the research/practitioner model. This means that as a psych student at IIT, you are instilled with a proficiency in the scientific methods for conducting research in academic institutions and private entities, in addition to setting you on track if you want to pursue rehabilitation services, becoming a clinician, or a counselor. This is a huge leg up that sets IIT students apart from their competition, especially when you are looking into graduate school. Research experience is a hot commodity.

Beyond that though, a degree in Psychology from IIT prepares you for the realities of the world we are about to enter into, one where almost every facet of human life intersects with technology. There is going to be immeasurable need for scientifically literate professionals in both the social sciences and humanities, who can help us understand the human condition, and how our advancements have changed our communities, our cultures, and ourselves both positively, and negatively.

In addition to majoring in Psychology, I am also minoring in Information Technology and Management. I hope to engage my knowledge of both of these fields in research, as I plan to pursue a Ph. D. in Neuroscience. As a fan of science fiction, I am excited, terrified, and intrigued all at once by the prospect that within my lifetime humans and technology may advance to the point where we are able to interface human biology with technological enhancements that will allow us to exceed the limitations of the human body. We may be able to craft the first artificially intelligent life forms. We may be even able to delay or reverse the aging process, for all intents and purposes achieving everlasting life.

Artist Neil Harbisson was born with total colorblindness, only able to see in black, grey, and white. With the help of a computer science student Adam Montandon from Plymouth University, they created a cybernetic camera on a headset that allows him to “hear” colors. He had the device surgically attached as an antenna protruding from the back of his skull in 2004, and has since gone on to be officially recognized by many as the world’s first cyborg. He remains active as an activist for cybernetics, and is the co-founder of the Cyborg Foundation, dedicated to helping interested people become cyborgs, and advocating for cyborg rights.

This is a short video about Neil’s work.

This is a TED Talk he gave on his implant, detailing how it has changed the way he lives his life on a day to day basis.

As time went on, his entire understanding of reality was shifted by the peripheral perceptions offered by the “eyeborg.” It even fundamentally changed the way his brain understood color, as he eventually began to experience the sensations of his device even in his dreams. His brain was extrapolating colors for him to “hear” even in his sleeping hours.

This is just one example of technology and humanity merging on new fronts. On the more conservative side, we may also be able to fully understand and find cures for diseases like Alzheimer’s. We may be able to encourage people to stop smoking or exercise more by developing new smart phone apps.

Dr. Arlen Moller is a member of the Psychology faculty, currently researching Behavioral Health and Wellness (coincidentally one of the newest majors for undergraduates within the Lewis College of Human Sciences). His most recent project is focusing on encouraging people to exercise more in ways that are more meaningful, more social, more fun, and resultantly, more sustainable. Participants wear step counters throughout the day tracking their level of exercise. The steps taken are then converted into points for a fantasy sports league, which increases interaction with peers, reaching for higher scores, and engaging from week to week to increase stats.

I plan to continue to be not just an advocate for science education, but the importance of the Social Sciences in the advancement of human progress. My hope is that as time passes, the handful of people who look at me like I have that arm growing out of my head, or rather a cybernetic antenna, will shrink to none as we advance into the future of the human sciences.

Jacob McCurry, 3rd year Psychology

Top 10 Study Habits

As a current junior studying Civil Engineering, I have found the following to be the top 10 study habits all students should have to succeed at IIT.

  1. Go to class

Professors did not get the title professor just because they thought it would sound cool.  They generally have at least one doctorate’s degree related to what they are teaching.  Even the most boring lecture professors can give one great example and help you learn the material better than you could on your own.  As an engineering student, I study very difficult material that has already been mastered by my professors, meaning that it is silly for me to not go to lecture and listen to their approach of the subject.  I enjoy most of my classes at IIT because the professors are passionate about what they teach.

  1. Read the book

When a textbook is assigned to a class, the professor is usually the one who picks the book and it relates to how they plan to teach the class.  Depending on how your professor lectures is how you should approach reading the book.  How you decide to read the book is up to you, but use it. While it is ideal to read every chapter of all of your textbooks, it is nearly impossible to do that.  Skimming is okay too and has helped me just the same!

  1. Take notes and review them

A perk of going to class is that you can write down side comments your professor makes about an example or concept (or the funny things they tend to say too). While good to write these things down, it is meaningless if you do not go back a review it. I have gotten into the habit of reviewing my notes for a few minutes before each lecture.  This helps me understand where we left off and what I should be expecting for the current lecture.

  1. Have a planner

IIT’s Office of Campus Life helps with this by handing out free planners at the beginning of the semester, but make sure you fill it out! A planner is great for due dates, but the way I use it is to plan when I will do the work.  There are numerous ways to organize your planner to accomplish this, but my way is to write my classes on the side and draw a line across the weekdays.  This way, even though I may not have an assignment due until Wednesday, I can plan to work on it on Monday and Tuesday. This helps me realize that my day on Monday and Tuesday is not empty and that there is work to be done. Succeeding in college is more about time management than being smart in my opinion.

  1. Ask questions

During my first year of school I was terrified to ask questions, fearing that the professor or my classmates would think I was stupid.  However, I quickly realized that asking questions is a part of learning and college is about learning, not a competition of who is already the smartest person there.  I have turned into the student who will ask a seemingly dumb question but have the professor respond in praise of “good question” instead.  If you already knew all the answers, you wouldn’t be a student.

  1. Find a study group

Within my department, I have found a group of about 10 students that I regularly do homework with.  We have become close friends who care about each other’s academic performance. Having this group has helped me to focus, distress, and learn material more efficiently.  Naturally, some of us are stronger in some classes than others, meaning we help out those who are struggling in our strong areas for their help in other areas in return.  As I mentioned before, engineering problems are difficult and solving them is like following a tangled map of equations with no compass.  Your study group is your compass and a funny tour guide all in one.

  1. Take active study breaks

Instead of browsing a social media site on my study breaks, I have found that some sort of physical activity is better and allows me to return to studying more focused.  For example, in the warmer months, I will go outside with a friend from my study group and toss a Frisbee or football for ten minutes.  If I am stuck inside, I will have a silly dance party to 2 or 3 songs, obnoxious singing encouraged.  I always feel much better after doing something active and it rids my mind of any grogginess.

  1. Drink more water, not coffee

I have pulled quite a few late nights studying and working on projects in my 3 years and from experience I have decided on a coffee water ratio of 1:2.  This means for every one cup of coffee, I will drink 2 cups of water before I can have another cup of coffee.  This helps me from feeling shaky or over caffeinated in general.  Both of those feelings are distracting to me and this ratio had allowed me to feel better and still power through a late night.

  1. Learn how you study best

For me, I need to read the book and take notes, then try example problems with a book open and notes spread out everywhere.  For other students, my study space may look too chaotic and impossible to focus in.  Learn how to set up your study space to match your learning style.  Creating a plan for how to study for a certain exam can make a difference.

  1. Sleep

I will not promise that you will get a full 8 hours every night, but a good amount most nights will make a huge difference.  To make sure I am maximizing my sleep, I tracked my REM cycles for a few months and now use that to determine how much sleep I need to feel refreshed.  To do this, I used an app on my smart phone that calculated the efficiency of my sleep every night.  I learned that going through 2 REM cycles, or about 3 hours, was enough for me to sleep as efficiently as I do on a night where I got a full 8 hours.

Part of the Study Crew in action! CAE’s for life!!

ddd

Leslie Lyons, 3rd year Civil Engineer

Innovation At Its Finest

Here at IIT, there are many opportunities for students and faculty alike to innovate. The first example that comes to mind is the Idea Shop, a prototyping lab that has two different types of laser printers, a laser cutter, CNC milling machines, a vacuum former, 3D scanners, as well as various more traditional shop tools. Getting started in there is as easy as walking in and asking the shop manager, John Welin, to show you around to get started. If you’ve ever heard of the X-cube, sold in shops around the country now, that was an invention prototyped in the Idea Shop.

Another chance to step up and make something new are the IPROs that are part of the degree plan of every IIT student. An interview with an IIT alumnae who now works for ComEd (the largest electric utility company in Illinois) as a hiring manager shed some light on the role IPROs play in looking for jobs and internships. Paraphrasing, this former IIT student stated that IPROs are one of the things employers look at most when hiring IIT students, as IPROs are essentially semester-long projects to solve real-world problems presented by academia and companies alike. It isn’t uncommon to be working on an IPRO sponsored by a company and then be offered a job or internship at the company if you produce good results in your project. Some students and faculty have even turned their results from IPROs into their own start-up companies!

It’s safe to say that if every opportunity to innovate on campus were shared, this post would be way too long. Therefore, I’ll end on this note: IIT has begun its plans to make a new innovation center, the Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovationn and Tech Entrepreneurship, which will host the Idea Shop, IPROs, and its Entrepreneurship programs all in one place. The building is anticipated to open its doors in 2017!

Written by Adam Denchfield, Applied Physicsideashop_main_550x350 ipro_main_550x350

Tired of winter? So are we…

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With all of this talk of more cold weather ahead, our students are turning their attention to the day they will once again reap the benefits of a Chicago summer. First-year mechanical engineering student, Kevin Hupp, reflects on the warmer days to come:

One advantage of attending IIT is that we are very close to downtown Chicago, and the city provides many things to do both day and at night.  A less advertised, and closer attraction to IIT is Lake Michigan and the 31st St. Beach – JUST ONE MILE FROM IIT!

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As a lifelong resident of the Chicagoland area, visiting Lake Michigan has always been a part of my summer time activities, and nothing has changed that in my time here at IIT.  Throughout the first few weeks of the fall semester, while the Chicago August weather has recently been reaching record highs, Lake Michigan becomes an oasis with a balmy wind and ice cold water.

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As the weather begins to cool off, jogging and biking along the lake is perfect break from studying.  Also as an added bonus, the lake front trails are almost exactly a mile from campus, so no need to worry about keeping track of the distance on your way to or from.  Need a bike?  Even if you don’t have a bike with you on campus, the cost of renting a Divvy bike from either of the two stations located on IIT’s campus is only $7 for a whole day.  As you travel up the trails along the lakefront you might pass sights such as the Burnham Harbor, four popular Chicago museums, Navy Pier, North Avenue Beach, and maybe even the Lincoln Park Zoo if your legs will take you that far.

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When the weather starts to get cold here in Chicago, the activity by the lake comes to a temporary halt.  The occasional fitness crazed individual may be seen making a jog to the lake front, but for the most part, the residents here at IIT stay in the comfort of their heated residence halls and enjoy indoor activities. As we enter March, the countdown has begun to the dog days of summer and the mass exodus of Chicagoans to summertime on Lake Michigan (cue Kanye’s “Homecoming”).

Kevin Hupp ’17

Work at the Museum of Science and Industry this semester!

The Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) is the largest science museum in the western hemisphere, holding more than 35,000 artifacts and almost 14 acres of interactive exhibit space. MSI is contained in the former Palace of Fine Arts from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, and opened in 1933 under philanthropist Julius Rosenwald’s vision to create a hands-on industry museum in the United States. The museum recently celebrated its 80th birthday and continues to achieve its mission to “inspire the inventive genius in everyone” along with the help of some IIT students.

Photo courtesy of msi.org

Each semester, 12 Illinois Tech students have a chance to volunteer at the museum as part of a unique partnership between the university and the museum. Over the course of the volunteership, the students learn up to three interactive and hands-on demonstrations that they present to the general public at the museum. They get to work on their presentation and public speaking skills while working under the close mentorship of lead interns at the museum. The demonstrations that students present cover a fun variety of topics including Newtonian physics, sound, and magnetism. During the volunteership, students also get to explore and learn about one of the most well-known science museums in the country and meet people from all over the world. After completing their volunteer sessions at the museum, students are eligible to apply for a full-time paid internship at the museum over the summer.

During the internship, eight students learn and present a variety of live science demonstrations to museum guests on a daily basis. Over the course of the internship last summer, the Illinois Tech interns learned seven different programs and facilitated them with over 30,000 guests throughout the duration of the 12-week internship.

Interns work alongside a team of other year-round, full-time facilitators at the museum who help them learn demonstrations and improve communication skills. The year-round facilitators assist the IIT interns by observing their demonstrations and offering constructive criticism and feedback in regard content, style, and delivery.

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The programs that summer interns have learned and presented in previous summers include demonstrations from across all realms of science, from astronomy to biology. One show, “Happy Brrthday,” is an interactive mock birthday party for a famous scientist or inventor that features several experiments with liquid nitrogen and culminates in making liquid nitrogen ice cream for the audience. Another program, “Bangs, Flashes, and Fire,” MSI’s most highly-attended show, involves a series of explosive chemistry experiments where the audience learns about matter, combustion, and chemical reactions.

"Bangs, Flashes, and Fire" exibit

“Bangs, Flashes, and Fire” exibit

The MSI-IIT internship partnership is now entering its 7th year and is an exclusive partnership between the museum and Illinois Institute of Technology. This partnership began with a common trustee between IIT and MSI, and the program aims to foster communication skills in students while making science education accessible to the community through the delivery of several fun and interactive live science demonstrations at MSI.

The MSI-IIT Internship program has been one of the best parts of my experience at Illinois Tech. I volunteered at the museum during the fall of 2012, and I was selected as an intern for the summer of 2013. Now, I serve as a lead intern for the museum and help train new volunteers and interns as a part of the program.

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Volunteering and interning with the museum has helped me with so many things; my public speaking skills have improved, and I’ve learned a lot of fun scientific information that I’ve been able to share with the public. As a physics education major at IIT, this internship is the perfect combination of science and education for me, but it’s also helpful for students in any major. Regardless of one’s intended career path, they’ll need to be able to communicate their work to others outside their field, and the MSI-IIT Internship program allows students to practice doing just that. Volunteering and interning at the museum also helps student gain more self-confidence; a big part of presenting to the general public is learning how to improvise and trust yourself to do well, which translates into other areas.

The MSI Internship Program has become a highly competitive opportunity for IIT students over recent years. In order to become eligible for the volunteership and internship, students need to attend an information session taking place next week during the lunch hour on February 10th, 11th, and 12th. For more information, check out the Facebook event for the sessions here: https://www.facebook.com/events/275629295932291

Study Abroad: You Should Do It

Blog post by: Amy Czarkowski, 4th year Architecture undergraduate student

I recently went to Paris to study abroad. I’m an architecture student in my fourth year, and for the Fall 2013 semester I packed my bags (clothes, archie supplies, and the bare essentials) and hopped on the nine hour flight from Chicago to Paris, France.

Was I scared? Yes.

Did I know French? No.

But was the experience one I would never trade in a million years? Yes.

Not only did I learn about how another part of the world lives, but I also changed as a person. I grew more worldly and got more of a backbone. I learned that my awkwardness isn’t as crippling in meeting new people as I thought. And even though I didn’t know the language of many people who I talked to, I still held conversations (with lots of dramatic arm movements). And when I ran into people around Paris who needed help finding their way around? I could help! I got stopped numerous times by people who spoke English (and some who didn’t) and was able to point them in the direction that they wanted to go.

I really became a part of the atmosphere and population of Paris in my four months studying there and living in a Parisian apartment on the hill of the Sacre Coeur in the North of Paris.

I also was able to practice my languages! I speak Spanish, and our week-long class trip to Barcelona helped me polish up on what I had forgotten. I also learned many French words, even though when I first went I only knew how to say ‘cheese omelette’ ‘butterfly’ ‘hello’ ‘thank you’ and ‘I’m very sorry, but I don’t speak French.’ I ended up being able to order food without hassle (though watch out for the McDonald’s there. 13 bucks for a meal.) And really, don’t worry if you don’t know the language. In my experience, as long as you try, people will always help you. English is a very widely known language, but that doesn’t mean that you can just default to it. You’ll be met with annoyance if you do so. Try to speak the language of the place that you are going to, and you’ll get really far and people will always be open to helping you.

I didn’t only see Paris, either. We went on class trips to Barcelona and Amsterdam and I also went solo to Mannheim and London. Doing those two trips by myself took a lot of planning and finding my own hostels and getting the bravery up in order to hop a train alone, but they were truly life-changing and amazing. I gave my all to make the best and the most of those four months, even battling my way through hangovers and horrible throat colds. I saw so much architecture and culture and so many interesting people; people from all over Europe speaking all kinds of different languages and dressing in so many different ways. And when you end up meeting another American in your journeys, it’s amazing to be able to talk about Chicago and IIT.

I met lots of new people in my travels, ate SO MUCH AMAZING FOOD, and got closer with the rest of my 18-person architecture studio who I was traveling with. I have memories that I never ever want to lose, and probably never will. Some parts were difficult, but that’s the price you have to pay in order to have an amazing experience that will change your life. The world is an amazing place, and it can’t be seen only through pictures and video. You’ll never know what is out there until you pack your bags and go!

And don’t worry. Chicago will still be here when you get back.

What I’m Thankful for this Holiday Season!

We’re in the midst of Thanksgiving break here at Illinois Tech; students are spending their time of celebrating with their families and friends, catching up on sleep, and studying for the finals week ahead.  I thought I’d take a moment to share some of my favorite things about attending IIT.

Here’s the top ten things I’m thankful for at Illinois Tech:

10. Being on a small campus — Everything on campus is so easy to get to, and you never have to spend too long out in the cold weather while walking to class!

9. Holiday lights outside McCormick Student Village — the decorations make campus feel so much happier as the weather gets colder and finals week begins!

8. Global Grounds – Our on-campus coffee shop has a great supply of caffeine and snacks.

7. Office of Campus Life’s Stress Free Zone — Even when finals week is underway, there are some relaxing things to do around campus!

6. The CTA — It’s easy to get anywhere in the city with the Green Line, Red Line, and State Street bus running through campus.

5. The Bog — There’s so many fun things to do on Thursday and Friday nights!

4. Galvin Library — being open 24 hours a day is great for late-night study sessions.

3. The Student Activities Fund, which allows student organizations to plan awesome events!

2. The One Stop — Illinois Tech’s office where you can get absolutely any IIT-related question answered by their ever-helpful and knowledgeable staff.

1. Living in the beautiful city of Chicago — there’s so much to explore!

-Kori Bowns

B.S. Candidate, Physics Education
Volunteer Coordinator, ILFTC
Business Manager, TechNews
President, Illinois Tech Robotics

 
What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? Tweet it to us at @IITUGAdmission !

A Tech Tradition– The Pumpkin Launch!

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October brings a lot of things to the life of a college student. Leaves start changing colors, weather starts getting colder, and the days start getting longer as the reprieve of winter break slowly inches nearer.  But Illinois Tech students have more to look forward to than receiving midterm grades and drinking pumpkin spice lattes—October also brings Pumpkin Launch to the IIT community!

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Pumpkin Lunch is one of the most looked-forward-to events that take place on IIT’s campus. Students across a variety of disciplines build great machines designed to hurl a pumpkin as far as possible across Illinois Tech’s Ed Glancy baseball field. Each year, teams compete to win awards for distance and accuracy, and this year, a fun new award was added for crowd favorite.

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Over 100 students worked toward launchers for this year’s competition, which is a part of IIT’s annual family weekend where students’ friends and families get a chance to engage in the spirit of the university. Many IIT students, staff, alumni, and other spectators come out to watch the event, but some looked forward to the blunders as much as they did the successful launchers. Some launchers catastrophically failed before completing their launches, and others occasionally fired a pumpkin backwards or even straight up into the air!

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This year’s launch was a ton of fun to watch and one of the most successful Pumpkin Launches yet! Nearly every launcher had successful launches; in previous years, several launchers only shot straight up or backwards, and some had difficulty launching at all.  It was really great to see the improvement that our teams of students had. This year’s launch also had some of the most impressive first-place winners ever as well. The winner for the distance competition, Long Shot, made by a small team of mechanical engineering students, shot their pumpkin over three hundred feet, almost over the outfield fence! The winner for the accuracy competition, Mach 1, a team made up of students on the Illinois Tech Robotics team, had a launch accuracy of over 99%, where each new launch hit the remains of the pumpkin before it. Next year will surely be more impressive as these students continue to hone their skills! Pumpkin launch remains my favorite event of the fall semester at Illinois Tech.

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Pumpkin Launch is a great fun event to kick off autumn at Illinois Tech, and everyone who attends the event has a blast! Students competing in the event get a chance to work with their fellow students and get a chance to apply what they’re learning in class to an exciting hands-on project. Spectators of the event get to observe impressive feats of engineering constructed by IIT students, and in addition to the pumpkin carnage, Pumpkin Launch always includes a few side attractions such as pumpkin carving and fun fall-themed food. Pumpkin Launch is just one of the many ways that Illinois Tech offers a unique collegiate experience to students.

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-Kori Bowns