Back to school, MIT Advanced Study Program

 It has been a long while since I was in school. The part time MBA at Boston University seems like a decade ago (it was). Why am I putting myself through this again? And at a place where most people are smarter than me? I believe, after spending so much time in the industry, I am dying for some academia work. While I am here in Boston, isn't the Institute the place to be?


Wednesday was orientation. The ASP office staff couldn't be nicer. They really offer a support system so that us adult students, some doing this part time, can survive the hard work. There are luncheons and dinners socials, copy machines and even office space. Full timers get their own cube. Part timers share. Part of the support reason I think is that many of the students are from overseas. With the eight of us newbies that showed up at orientation, exactly half are from overseas.

Doing Things Differently

MIT does everything differently. January each year is IAP time. So the Spring term starts in February. All the ASP students (or Fellows, as we are called) will return Monday during the day to register for classes with the adviser Dawna. She has been working at MIT for a long time and she is super helpful, super nice and knows pretty much everything. Then class starts the next day. And would you believe it that this is the first year that class registration is partially done online? Last term it was filling in paper forms and walking them between buildings.

While we are on the subject of buildings, of course buildings on campus are numbered, sequentially, from the time they were built. Since building names (as most other college will use) are also just symbolic references, why not numbers? It's shorter. And yes, departments are also numbered, but you know that already.

New and Old Tech

A good part of orientation is spent on IT -- MIT runs a open network. This means that the entire MIT network (MITNet) is not behind any firewall. In a way their solution is good. It is very hard to maintain a central firewall system that works for such a large technology focus university. Instead, MIT uses Kerberos as a way to authenticate each access device to each server. Setting up the all so important Kerberos username and installing all the certificates is not easy if you are not a techie. So Kirky spent a good amount of time explaining the ins and outs of all the IT setup so that we can all get connected.

Getting IDs

Then we are off to get our IDs. I got my student ID at the basement of the Straton center, then back to the ASP lounge and use their computer to get my online ID assigned. Apparently the ID system is a batch process so the user ID will not be fully activated until the next day. Later in the evenings I seems to be able to generate my Kerberos certificates at least. So all is good, now wait for registration day.