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Harvard SEAS, Newsletter, Spring 2007

Harvard SEAS, Newsletter, Spring 2007

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Biannual newsletter of the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Biannual newsletter of the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

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Published by: Harvard School of Enginering and A on Jan 11, 2010
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D ean’  sM e s sa g e
Spring/Summer 2007
Valuing Values
he winner of any prize, whether it’s anOscar or a Nobel, inevitably thanks “allthose who made it possible.” While it maysound like a platitude, there is often a deeptruth behind such a statement. The awardwinner is thanking an institution and itsmembers for providing a supportive andpositive environment in which to work—and for instilling and practicing the kind of values like innovation and creativity thatallowed a dream to become real.
Shared purpose
As I have discussed in past newsletters, wehave long nurtured an open and inclusivephilosophy. Ofce doors remain open. For-mal academic departments do not exist.Faculty members collaborate across disci-plinary boundaries. As we move toward ournew vision for the School, it is even moreimportant to have a shared sense of pur-pose, values, and culture. This, in fact, wasa signicant item of discussion at a recentfaculty retreat and at my rst Dean’s Advi-sory Group meeting. Everyone agreed thatwe need to decide what our values shouldbe; better integrate such principles intoteaching, research, and service activities;and, more broadly, weave them into ourculture by offering appropriate resourcesand rewards. While we have done much tofoster HSEAS’ unique culture, we are com-mitted to enhancing several key attributesin the coming years.
• Citizenship and community 
I am pleased to say that camaraderie is com-mon here, from the large number of facultyand administrators who serve as freshmanadvisors to the willingness of several starplayers to “take one for the team”. Speci-cally, I recall when one of our electrical en-gineering faculty members stepped up toteach a course at the last minute when an-other colleague could not. Likewise, I knowseveral faculty members who routinelyteach classes in other departments or, whenneeded, outside their own areas of researchexpertise. It is also increasingly routinefor applied physicists to mentor electricalengineering or physics junior faculty orcomputer scientists to extend expertise andguidance to bioengineers.
• An attitude of “can do”/”saying no to no.” 
The power and applicability of the trialand error and problem-solving approachthat is a hallmark of successful engineer-ing and applied science research and designis nearly universal. For example, for theirsenior projects, undergrads report on allthe roadblocks they faced, such as when aparticular design didn’t work or when unex-pected results changed the direction of theirresearch. But I would like such an attitudeto permeate all aspects of the School so thateveryone thinks and acts like engineersand applied scientists in terms of their ap-proach to problem solving, whether theyare trying to resolve a scheduling problemfor a student or helping ensure that facultymembers get their grants in on time. Afterall, anybody must get a feel for our cultureof a place right when they call the academicofce, visit our website, or walk throughany ofce door.
• Entrepreneurial 
Our new school seal (p. 20) honors engineer,entrepreneur, and donor Gordon McKay,who combined a technological break-through with his entrepreneurial spirit (p.6). In an effort to retool a shoe sewing ma-chine, McKay ushered in an entirely newway of doing business and was able to adapthis machinery and sales model numeroustimes as the country changed. I am pleasedto say that today, more and more of our fac-ulty, students, and alumni take inquisitive-ness and innovation as something of a per-sonal credo, whether it is nding new waysto treat disease (p. 5) or applying mathemat-ics to nance.
Working across elds has long been a traitat DEAS—and will continue to be one atHSEAS. Over the past few months, research-ers have taken inspiration from biology tobuild bug-like robots (p. 10) and applied les-sons from natural systems to computationalones (p. 14). Likewise, the CitySense project(p. 5), which brought together computer sci-entists, a technology company, and a city, isan example of what’s possible through part-nerships that extend beyond campus. Wewill continue to integrate engineering andapplied sciences at every level, especially inemerging areas such as systems biology andbiologically-inspired engineering. More-over, we can serve as an institutional modelby seamlessly blending engineering withapplied sciences.
Stepping up
In my mind, nding new ways to institu-tionalize our values is perhaps the most im-portant issue we face. This means, for exam-ple, providing the right incentive structureto further promote a spirit of citizenshipamong the faculty; offering new rewardsand giving more recognition for dedicatedand innovative teaching; and small grantsto support collaborative research, industryinternships, or even exchange programs.While incentives are necessary, successultimately comes down to something farless tangible. Our goal is to make HSEASthe kind of place where people share com-mon values while also feeling that they arevalued. At the same time, we want to sup-port a dynamic culture that celebrates bothindividual creativity and recognizes theimportance of the collective good or insti-tutional priorities.If we are successful, when one person makesa grand discovery in research, secures agrant, or pulls off a last minute miracle,everyone will feel like they are succeedingand are part of a valuable endeavor. Wheth-er or not we win future Oscars (we do havesome alumni who work in the movie biz)or Nobel Prizes, we want to create a stagebig enough for everyone to take a bow.
Venkatesh “Venky” NarayanamurtiDean, Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Undergrads can now pursue computer scienceand applied mathematics as secondary fields.
 Lnk sandn od e s
2IHSEAS – Spring/Summer 2007
The change from “Division” to “School” shows up ineverything from websites to parking passes.The University will commit $50M to promotesynergy in science and engineering.The Institute for Innovative Computing made itsformal debut on March 21, 2007. $2M from DARPA will fund a center on nano andmicro-electro-mechanical systems.
It’s Ofcial: The HarvardSchool of Engineering andApplied Sciences (HSEAS)
In February, the Harvard Corporationand Board of Overseers ofcially rati-ed the Faculty of Arts and Sciencesvote on the creation of Harvard Schoolof Engineering and Applied Sciences. Inthe words of H. Gunther Rudenberg, S.B.Physics ’44 and Ph.D. ’50, “Hurrah! Hur-rah! Hurrah!”The change in status grants the Schooladministrative and operational inde-pendence and a reporting and oversightrelationship with the University’s cen-tral administration that is similar tothat of other Harvard Schools. In addi-tion, HSEAS is now allowed to displayits own seal (p. 20).The new school will maintain academiclinkages to FAS. The DEAS traditions of teaching non-concentrators, support-ing joint faculty appointments (a thirdof the faculty members now have jointappointments, with particularly stronglinkages to Physics and Earth & Plane-tary Sciences), and sustaining cross-dis-ciplinary research collaborations willcontinue.Undergraduates in engineering and ap-plied sciences will continue to be admit-ted by and enrolled in Harvard College.Likewise, graduate students will beenrolled in the Graduate School of Artsand Sciences. Engineering and appliedsciences faculty will continue to teachcourses for the broader undergraduatepopulation. New linkages and collabo-rations are expected with FAS-Biology,Chemistry, and parts of the social sci-ences and humanities as well as withcertain professional schools.On non-academic administrative issues,however, HSEAS expects to enhanceits historical autonomy (in nance, re-search administration, and other opera-tional issues) and is working with FASand the Central Administration to man-age this transition process.The transition reects the increased pres-ence and importance of the role engi-neering and applied sciences have playedand will continue to play at Harvard. Alaunch event and symposia for HSEAS,“Engineering a Renaissance: A Celebra-tion of the Past, Present, and Future,” willbe held on September 20, 2007.
Harvard Commits $50Million for Synergy
The Harvard Corporation has autho-rized the establishment of a new, Uni-versity-wide standing committee onscience and engineering to guide theUniversity into a new era of collabora-tive, cross-disciplinary science initia-tives. The Corporation also created a $50million fund to provide initial supportfor the committee’s work, pending thecommittee’s submission of a budget.Dubbed Harvard University Scienceand Engineering Committee (HUSEC),the committee will be chaired by theProvost and made up of 15 to 18 mem-bers in total, including Harvard facultyscientists and engineers, relevant Deans(Deans of the Medical School, the Fac-ulty of Arts and Sciences, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, andthe School of Public Health), and lead-ers from the Harvard-afliated hospi-tals. HUSEC will advise the University’ssenior leadership on, among otherthings, the creation and funding of newcross-School departments and commit-tees and the allocation of resources fornew interdisciplinary science ventures,including faculty slots, resources forstudents and education, and physicalspace and equipment.
The IIC Introduces Itself
The Institute for Innovative Com-puting (IIC) stepped into the digitallimelight at an inaugural celebrationheld on March 21. The IIC is a new in-terdisciplinary research and develop-ment center at Harvard, tting snugglyinside 60 Oxford Street and dedicatedto innovative computing tools to ac-celerate discovery across all scienticdisciplines. For more information, see
Life On & Around Oxford Street
 Lnk sandn od e s
photo by Carl Psykle
Fishing Expedition
Love it or hate it, you can likely nd “it” in Wikipedia.Consider the entry on “squirrel shing,” an unusual sportthought to have been partially popularized (if not invented)by two engineering graduate students, Nikolas Gloy andYasuhiro Endo, at Harvard in the late 1990s.According to the encyclopedic site: “Squirrel shing is thesporting practice of ‘catching’ squirrels and attemptingto lift them into the air using a peanut tied to a string orshing line, and optionally some kind of shing pole. Thepractice of squirrel shing has since taken root on collegecampuses and parks all around the United States.”
Gaming the System
reported on a new Harvard ma- jor in “Mario Kart”—a tongue-in-cheek ref-erence to the popular Nintendo racing game.Pedagogic purists can rest easy; the emergingeld of interactive media offers the seriousscholar more than endless button bashing.Ben S. Decker ’08 created a concentration in“‘ludology’—the study of video games fromboth a technological and humanities per-spective—encompasses several academicareas,” reported the
. “He plansto take classes in psychology, econom-ics, computer science, and media studies,cross-enrolling at MIT for the media stud-ies courses. Decker’s interest in the areastemmed in part from a sophomore tuto-rial paper exploring the psychological basisfor why video games are enjoyable.”
Random Bits
— JEREMY KNOWLES,Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences
“Continued rapid growth in key areas of engineering and lifesciences, in particular, is not only vital for the competitiveposition of the University … but also in maximizing the return onour investment in buildings and infrastructure.”
A special undergraduate concentrationwill explore why videos games, like theclassic Donkey Kong, Jr., are so addicting.
 HSEAS – Spring/Summer 2007I
biosensors, plasmon devices, optoelec-tronics, bottom-up nanofabrication, andplasmonic uorescent sensors.Other participating academic/researchinstitutions include the Harvard Medi-cal School, the University of Massachu-setts at Amherst, and the Charles StarkDraper Laboratory. Industrial partnersinclude U.S. Genomics, RSoft DesignGroup, LumArray, and Luminus Devices.
Secondary Fields inCS and AM Debut
Harvard undergraduates now havean opportunity to pursue computerscience and mathematical sciences(including applied math) as secondaryelds, or minors.The new options are among the 28 avail-able to students as a result of the ongo-ing Harvard College Curricular Review.Both the computer science and math-ematical sciences programs will requirestudents to complete four half-courses.Although a joint thesis is not required,the expectation is for students to read-ily combine their interests among areas,just as graduate students and faculty do.“We expect both programs to be verypopular, especially for economics and bi-ology concentrators,” said Marie Dahleh,Assistant Dean for Academic Programs.“They will provide another way for stu-dents to become exposed to the increas-ingly interdisciplinary nature of engi-neering and applied sciences.”
DARPA Gives $2 Millionfor NEMS/MEMS Center
The Defense Advanced Research ProjectsAgency (DARPA) has funded a new multi-institution research initiative in nano-and micro-electro-mechanical systems(known as NEMS/MEMS), in afliationwith HSEAS. The three-year programhas over $2 million in total funding fromDARPA and industry partners.Led by Ken Crozier, Assistant Professorof Electrical Engineering, the HarvardCenter for Microuidic and PlasmonicSystems (MIPS) will carry out funda-mental research into surface plasmon(SP) nanostructure design, fabrication,imaging, and integration with micro-uidic systems.The Center will also bring togetherexperts from a variety of areas, includ-ing microuidics and nanofabrication,
The odd sport of squirrel shing(not phishing) may owe its origins toCS students at Harvard. And worry not,the feisty critters are not harmed.

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