Orientation

Welcome to GAME and the MechE department at MIT! GAME is the Graduate Association of Mechanical Engineers, the student organization for the MechE graduate department, and we put on lots of events throughout the year to help grad students have the best possible graduate experience. GAME is hosting lots of events throughout orientation to welcome our incoming grad students and help you get adjusted to the department, MIT, and the city! Your orientation chairs, Caroline and Yajing, have put this webpage together for you—we’ve compiled all the events, resources and tips a new MechE grad student would want to know about, all in one place.

Orientation Events

In addition to GAME, the MIT Graduate Student Council (GSC) also hosts lots of orientation events for all incoming graduate students. The full calendar of GSC orientation events can be found on the GSC Orientation 2018 website. Some of the best GSC orientation events (in our opinion) are listed below in addition to the GAME events.

Monday, 8/27—Graduate Welcome Address & OneMIT Banquet

The Graduate Welcome address is given by MIT’s president, and kicks off Graduate Orientation. The OneMIT Banquet is a really cool event, and is a great way to meet other grad students outside of your department, so definitely sign up for this event!

Wednesday, 8/29, 12–1 PM, 3-270—GAME Welcome Lunch

Come meet the people behind the emails! Your orientation chairs, as well as representatives from many other MechE organizations, will kick-off GAME orientation and introduce you to the MechE department. There will be TONS of delicious food from awesome local restaurants as well, so you can get a taste of Cambridge!

Wednesday, 8/29, 6:30-10PM—GSC Boat Cruise

A dance party on a boat, sailing around the Boston harbor at night, what more could you ask for?

Friday, 8/31, 8:30–10 AM, MechE Lounge (1-114)—GAME Mentor-Mentee Meetup and Coffee Hour

As a MechE tradition, you are invited to the GAME coffee hour every Friday morning. Come get some coffee and bagels, and meet with your MechE friends! This would also be a great time for you to chat with your mentor (if you have signed up for one)!

Friday, 8/31, 4 PM, Lobby 7—GAME Kayaking on the Charles River

Meet in Lobby 7 to walk over together. Kayak around the Charles River, and see Boston and Cambridge from the water, it’s absolutely beautiful! 

Saturday, 9/1—GSC Hiking Trip in the White Mountains of New Hampshire

Don’t miss this one! The White Mountains are absolutely beautiful, and only 2 hours away. If you want to go hiking and don’t feel like going that far, there’s plenty of hiking close by too (and not quite as intense), see the City (without a car) section below.

Sunday, 9/2, 10 AM – 5 PM, Kendall T stop—GAME Beach Trip

Did you know you can get to the beach just by taking the T?! Carson beach is just off the Red line, and you can get to it in about 30 minutes from MIT. Bring your swimsuit, towel, and pack a lunch, and spend the day at the beach. You can play volleyball, soccer, go biking around, or work on your tan.

Sunday, 9/2, 6:30-10PM—GSC Prudential Skywalk

Orientation is a great excuse to get some Boston touristy activities checked off, and this is definitely one worth doing. You get sweet views of Boston at sunset, and at a discounted price!

Monday, 9/3, 9AM-2PM—GSC Apple Picking

This is probably the best GSC orientation event. You go to an adorable farm, and get to pick (and eat) so many apples! There’s a blueberry patch there too worth checking out.

Tuesday, 9/4, 9–10 AM, 3-270—MechE Welcome Meeting

This is a mandatory event. The department will welcome you and go through some important information for new students.

Tuesday, 9/4, 10 AM – 12 PM, 3-030—MechE Reg Day Brunch

Today is Registration Day, which means you’ll meet with your advisor to sign up for classes (don’t worry, you don’t have to preregister as an incoming student) but more importantly, that means free food for all MechE grad students!

Wednesday, 9/5–First Day of Classes

Thursday, 9/6 3:30–5 PM, MechE Comm Lab Orientation Event - Ice Cream Social

Enjoy delicious ice cream and learn about the MechE Communication Lab, a resource designed for mechanical engineers, by mechanical engineers! RSVP here.

Thursday, 9/6, 8 PM – late, Asgard—GAME Pub Crawl

Arguably the most important orientation event, and a MechE tradition, the Pub Crawl follows the same route as during visit weekend. We’ll start at Asgard, continue on to The People’s Republik, then head over to John Harvard’s, and finish up at Hong Kong. There will be karaoke, free drinks, and good times had by all. All MechE grad students are invited. Don’t forget your 21+ ID (passports for international students)!

Tuesday, 9/11, 4-7 PM, Kresge BBQ Pits—GAME BBQ

Kick off the new semester with delicious BBQ. We’ll grill up hot dogs, hamburgers, and veggie burgers. This isn’t just an orientation event, all MechE grad students will be invited, so come hang out with your labmates, and meet older grad students too.

 

Academics

How do I register for classes?

As an incoming student, you don’t have to preregister (in following semesters you will), so you’ll pick all your classes on registration day, and just sign up for them through online registration. We’ll go into more detail on this process at the GAME Welcome Lunch. Your advisor will then have to go and approve them, and then you’ll finalize your selections by submitting.

How do I know what classes to take?

Typically, most grad students with a research assistantship take 2 classes (12 credits each) and then 24 credits of research in their first few semesters. This may vary if you have a teaching assistantship or a fellowship. You should go through the course catalog and look at classes that are related to your research areas. Once you meet with your advisor, they’ll probably give you some suggestions about what to take, but it’s good to have an idea of what you think might be good to take beforehand. Talking to other grad students in your lab is another good way to figure out what classes are going to be the most relevant for your research.

How do I find an advisor if I haven’t yet?

First of all, don’t worry if you don’t have an advisor yet. If you are still talking to professors and deciding, you’re in a good place, and have plenty of company. If you’re worried about finding a professor or getting funding, reach out to the MechE graduate office, and they can help you. Make sure you keep reaching out to professors, many are still finding out about funding during the summer, so they might have a new opening to hire a grad student that they didn’t know about in May! If you have external funding, it’s OK to wait a semester before securing a research advisor, but definitely make sure you’re in contact with potential advisors throughout your first semester, you don’t want to wait too long. If you don’t have a research advisor by the start of the fall semester, you’ll be assigned a temporary advisor who will help you register for your fall classes.

HELP - I can’t figure out how to X!

The best resources to help you get settled into your new MIT experience are the other grad students around you, your advisor, and the MechE Grad Office! Leslie, Una, and Amy keep the department running, and can help solve any question you bring to them.

 

MechE Organizations

MEGAWomen

MEGAWomen is the Mechanical Engineering Graduate Association of Women, which is a group for all the graduate student and postdoc women in the department. They host events throughout the year to help foster a sense of community among the women in the department.

MakerWorkshop

MakerWorkshop is a student-run machine shop, open to all students in the MechE department. It’s located at 35-122, right next to the ME machine shop, and is open in the afternoons and evenings (after the ME machine shop has closed). Check out the MakerWorkshop website for up-to-date shop information, and come to a Maker Monday to get access to the shop for classwork, research and personal projects.

MechE Comm Lab

The MechE Communication Lab, staffed by MechE grad students and postdocs (“Comm Fellows”), is a peer-coaching resource to help you with all of your technical communication needs. Working on a grant application? A paper? A presentation or poster? Then check out our online resources (the “CommKit”), and make an appointment with a fellow today! We support students and staff in the department at all stages of communication, from brainstorming and getting organized, to edits the day before something is due. Fellows are trained in communication best-practices, and coach clients using strategic questions that help you learn to improve your communication skills. Best of all, fellows all come from within our department, so they are familiar with the situations and audiences that you’re preparing for. Check out our materials and sign up for an appointment today through our website above!

ME REFS

REFS is a peer mediation program offering support to ME students for any reason, such as stress about classes, family issues, roommate problems, or issues with your advisor. If you need someone to talk to, ME REFS is there for you.

MechE Alliance

The MechE Alliance is a program that connects current MechE students to MechE alumni, to build connections that could help you get an internship or job, and help alumni stay connected to the department.
 

Important Info

WebSIS

WebSIS is the web-based student information system for MIT students. There are several tasks on WebSIS for you to complete as soon as possible, including filling your biographic and emergency records and managing your student account. 

Medical Report Forms

Don’t forget to submit these! The submission deadline for the fall term has passed, so if you haven’t turned these in, make sure to do so as soon as possible. MIT requires all students to fill these out to prove they have proper immunizations. 

International Students Office (ISO) Check-in for International Students

All new international students are required to check in with the ISO located in E18-219, upon arrival at MIT and sign up for an Immigration Information Session. The ISO will give you clearance to obtain an MIT ID card, use MIT facilities and register for classes.

Getting an ID Card

Once you get to campus, you’ll need to go get an ID card from the Atlas service center, E17-106. Pro tip—try the coffee machine while you’re there, it’s delicious. Make sure you know your Student ID number, and bring a government issued ID with you. 

I-9 Forms

Students funded by RAs and TAs will need to fill out I-9s. You should receive information about this via email, and this should be filled out online, and then completed at the Atlas service center. If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to reach out to the MechE grad office, they’re here to help! 

Final Transcripts

All incoming students, except MIT undergraduates, are required to send or bring with them an original copy of their final transcripts with all grades posted through Spring 2018 to the following address:

MechE Grad Office, 1-112, MIT, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139

Graduate Writing Examination (GWE)

The MechE Department requires all incoming graduate students to take the Institute’s online Graduate Writing Examination (GWE). Depending on the results, you will either (a) pass the exam, (b) be required to take a relatively short, but intensive workshop in during the Independent Activities Period in January, or (c) be required to take a course in writing. Try your best to pass this exam if you don’t want to take the workshop in January!

English Evaluation Test (EET) for International Students

MIT requires that all graduate students for whom English has not been the language of instruction in both elementary and secondary school take an English Evaluation Test. This year the test will be given on Tuesday, August 28, 2018, 9AM-12PM in 10-250. Bring several #2 pencils and a pen with you and make sure you arrive there between 8:30 and 8:50AM. You will receive a scheduled time for a brief oral interview at the exam. Do not worry about this test. If you don’t perform well, you will only be recommended to take some English classes — which will be truly helpful for you!

EHS Training

If you are working for a lab that is dealing with chemicals, you will need to take some trainings offered by the MIT Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) Office. Contact the EHS Rep in your lab for more information. Once you get situated in the lab and get added to your PI’s EHS list, you can find your training needs on the the Atlas Learning Center.

 

Useful links:

MechE Resources

MechE Grad Guide

This is a guide put together by the department with a lot of useful academic information and degree requirements.

MIT TechCash
You can deposit money to your MIT student ID card (which you can use for laundry and cafes on campus) by clicking 'Quick deposit' at this link.

Salary Deposit

You can set up direct deposit of your monthly salary through your Atlas account. Click financial record, then managing your account. If you have any issues, you can ask sfs@mit.edu (student financial services) for help.

Email List (Moira and Mailman)

News and info for different groups and clubs at MIT is often disseminated through email lists. You can manage your email list and subscribe to other MIT listserves through this system.

Harvard Library Privileges

The MIT libraries has a reciprocal borrowing agreement with Harvard College Library (HCL) for MIT community members. You can apply online for an HCL ID card, and then once you have the HCL ID, you will get access to the Harvard libraries and the M2 shuttle!

Massachusetts ID Application for International Students

If you need a government ID, but you don't want to carry your passport around, and you do not have a driver’s license, you can always apply for a Mass ID.

 

The City (without a car)

Grocery Stores

If you’re living in the graduate dorms, the closest grocery stores are Trader Joes and Whole foods off Memorial Drive, and Target, H-Mart and Whole Foods in Central Square.

Shopping

If you need to get some new clothes with great deal but don’t feel like driving an hour to the Wrentham Village Premium Outlets, check out Assembly Row in Somerville, which you can get to by bus.

Biking

Cambridge is a very bikable city. If you think you might want to get a bike to get around (such as going to the grocery store, getting to campus, etc) one good option is to get a bike at the MIT Police Bike Auction. This will happen in September or early October, so keep an ear out for info about it. Info will also be posted on the MIT facilities website closer to when it gets scheduled. It’s an easy way to get a good, cheap bicycle.

Hiking

You can get to awesome hiking using the T! Take the Orange line all the way to Oak Grove, and you can walk to the edge of the Middlesex Fells reservation from there. There’s plenty of awesome hiking to do in Middlesex Fells, and it makes for a great daytrip—pack a picnic lunch and you’re ready to go!

Sailing

If you know how to swim, then MIT will let you take out a sailboat at the MIT Sailing Pavilion. They offer classes throughout the summer and fall, but these book up fast so sign up as soon as they open! With a little practice, you can upgrade your rating to be able to take out a wider range of boats in a wider range of wind/wave conditions! The best part (besides the sun and water), is that it’s FREE!! For more details about getting access, and what else the Sailing Pavilion has to offer, check out the Sailing Pavilion website.