Tech Day Talks: Alumni Faculty on Education and Environment

Can our brains show us when we’re ready to learn? That’s the question John Gabrieli ’87—Grover Hermann Professor of Health Sciences and Technology and Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and director of the Athinoula A. Martinos Imaging Center at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research—posed to a Tech Day audience in June 2016, as captured in this Slice of MIT podcast.

The event featured talks by Gabrieli and fellow alumni-turned-faculty on challenges MIT is addressing in education and the environment. Gabrieli was joined at Tech Day by AeroAstro professor Karen Willcox ’96, PhD ’00. Like Gabrieli, who heads the MIT Integrated Learning Initiative (MITili), Willcox focused her talk on educational innovation, explaining how her Fly-by-Wire project, a blended learning technology, was inspired by research in her field of aerospace engineering.

Switching topics to the health of the planet, John Fernández ’85, professor of building technology in the Department of Architecture and director of MIT’s Environmental Solutions Initiative, talked about the drastic rise in urban development and its impact on the use of resources and energy throughout the world. And Elsa Olivetti PhD ’07, Thomas Lord Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, explained how advances in sustainability require a better understanding of the ordinary materials that are used and thrown out daily.