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

The Off Campus “Meal Plan”

After reading an article shared about Ricobene’s Steak Sandwich (here’s the article) I thought students ought to know about a few other popular spots near campus.

I am originally from Massachusetts and have lived in Bridgeport for three years.  During my three years I have eaten everywhere in the neighborhood, here are my favorites:

Bakery—Impallaria

If you don’t think Impallaria is the coolest bakery in town then you’re wrong, dead wrong.  Impallaria has been serving up fresh Italian baked goods since 1950 and the experience shows in how worth the guilt the treats are. While they are famous for their chocolate cake donut I am a frequent éclair and cannoli guy.  The cannoli selection is more limited than the all time world’s best cannoli of Mike’s Pastry in North End Boston, but the ricotta levels are on point.  Also, throw out what you know about éclairs before you walk in.  This monster is a quarter pound of custard.  At only a few bucks beware of your waistline.  Located at 30th and Wallace it’s a great weekend stroll (especially if you walk there by 29th because Bridgeport’s charming neighborhood vibe from our campus’s pseudo-urban feel).

ddw

Mexican/Fast Food–Carbon  

Authentic? Eh.  Crave-worthy? YES!  Weather you order from their website, GrubHub, over the phone, or walk in you’re gonna have a good time.  If you like steak and elote don’t waste your time with anything other than the Stelote Burrito—it’s exactly what it sounds like.  Need some savory spice in your life?  Get roasted red pepper sauce with everything and put it on everything. 26th and Princeton if you’re going in person.

Italian—I’m torn here

Want a cool date spot close by? Go to Franco’s.  Being from Boston this is exactly what I expect from an Italian restaurant: small, the grandmother’s recipes are made by her grandsons and served by her granddaughters; all while she watches from her chair in the corner.  Take a date, take a friend, its ten minutes from the res halls at 31st and Princeton.  Lastly, get the gnocchi, that is all.

Want a lot of food right now?  Order from Mangia Fresca.  This place is actually owned by the cousins of the Impallaria owners.

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Coffee

A lot of people like Bridgeport Coffee.  They roast their own beans which makes then a bit more in line with current coffee trends, but forget about the story behind your beans and focus on what’s important: taste.  Drop what you’re doing and go to Jackalope.  Jackalope coffee has a great atmosphere of chaos and the coffee is stellar no matter what your get.  Like it hot? Agave Latte.  Like it Cold?  They have Stumptown Cold Brew Coffee on tap—yes tap.  It’s on 32nd between Halsted and Emerald.  Here is a photo of one my lattes with a foam teddy bear.  These guys and gals don’t mess around with coffee.

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Ice Cream and Ice

While there are not many options, we don’t need many.  If you want ice cream go get some with a side of doo wop from Scoop’s.  The owners are the same as Mangia Fresca so you can always pair your Butter Pecan ice cream with some decent espresso.  31st and Wallace, cash only.

Can’t handle the Ice Cream? That’s fine!  Grab an Italian Ice from Ferro’s just across the highway on 31st.  It’s also a grill/greasy-spoon so you can get cheese fries on the side.  This is also a cash only establishment.

Late Night

Even been craving burgers and fries at 4 am?  Me too, its fine, no need to admit it out load. Maxwell Street Depot is 24 Hours a day and cheap.  The fries come unsalted, but do not fret!  If you need some sodium to feel warm and fuzzy about your spuds they have it on the windowsill to add as you desire.  Only catch is you have to bring cash.  The walk is short here from dorms as it is at 31st and Canal.

I hope this helps you in all your dining endeavors.  May your food journeys be plenty and delicious.

Max Wiese, Applied Mathematics

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

Love To Dance Collective: A Short History

LTD is a fairly young student organization on campus, only two years old this semester – and it is also a prime example of how feasible it is to start a student organization at IIT. We have auditions each semester, as well as an Open Class, where any student can come and take a break from their studies, get a small workout and learn some choreography!

We have already had auditions for this semester and have since been preparing for our first performance with Wesley Lo, a first year biomedical student, as the lead choreographer. This semester we are also VERY excited about the new multipurpose room in Keating Sports Center, with a barre, mirrors and harlequin floor; perfect for our rehearsals.

I spent my first semester at IIT focusing on school – but I really did miss dancing. In high school, dance was about 20 hours of my week, and it has always been an important outlet for me. Towards the end of my first semester here at IIT, I became friends with Sydney Hardwick and was very excited when she told me about her idea for starting another dance group on campus. A short time after, LTD was approved by SGA (Student Government Association), and we started to work hard to make LTD known on campus.

LTD feels like a family to me, and I am so happy to be a part of it. I have met and made friends with other dancers, gained leadership and choreography experience, and had a blast performing and working with a diverse group of students who share my love of dance.

If you have any questions about LTD or would like to be added to our mailing list for information about auditions and upcoming events – please contact us at ltddanceteam@gmail.com. We hope to see you at our next performance!

Check out our YouTube page to see some of our past performances. youtube.com/user/LTDdanceteam/videos

Lindsey Rice

Third-Year Architectural Engineering Student

Vice President of LTD

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