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MIT Sloan Student Blog Archive

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March 07, 2009

Live from the Energy Conference

Surprisingly, it was Lars Josefsson, President and CEO of Vattenfall at the MIT Energy Conference, that made the most compelling case for sustainability. In fact, sustainability was one of the three pillars he envisioned as key to the future for the network of European utilities.

The Sloan Energy and Environment Club and the MIT Energy Club are hosting the yearly energy conference with international leaders and innovators in the field. This year's conference is addressing bio-energy, the next stage of wind power generation, baseload and energy storage dynamics, demand-response for electricity, and energy use in emerging global economies.

So what does this have to do with sustainability? Although there are different definitions for sustainability, the working definition I like is that sustainability is the approach to managing resources (natural, human, capital, and technological) in such a way that our earth will remain habitable beyond the subsistence-level for the next 100 to 200 years. I add the 100 years after having sat through the Sustainable Energy class taught by Professors Michael Fehler, Jeffrey Freidberg, Michael Golay, William Green Jr., Andrew Peterson, and Jefferson Tester last fall. Applying a time frame to sustainability makes it a less unwieldy concept to grapple with, and has consequences for how businesses can conceive of depreciating their assets, the cost of equity and debt, the durability of products, and the health and lifestyle consequences of the labor and consumer markets that they touch.

Mr. Josefsson determined that energy efficiency and a thoughtful addressing of the bi-products problem of nuclear energy generation are issues which are considered under the umbrella of sustainability.

The intersection of economic development, international trade and market growth, and climate change are potentially a point of tension for the generations to come as countries struggle with how to  manage the commons: air, and water. The issue of how we account for our impact will increasingly take on more importance. I was lucky to attend a Sustainable Development presentation by the MIT anthropology department that opened up a new level of discussion among us students about what words like "development", "environment", and "democracy" mean across cultures, and brought to the forefront issues that will be addressed at this year's MIT Sustainability Summit.

The Sustainability Summit, "New Dimensions of Growth" will be held on April 24th and address the economic recession as it effects sustainability, metrics for sustainability, and new opportunities and partnerships created through sustainability.

The mission of the MIT Sloan School of Management is "to develop principled, innovative leaders who improve the world and to generate ideas that advance management practice." With action-based learning, a customized program and the commitment to a small class size, strong links to the other schools at MIT, including the engineering, social sciences, and new media programs, and global engagement and visibility, this school is uniquely positioned to address the sustainability challenges that my generation and those to come after will face.

February 11, 2009

Macroeconomics: growth vs. sustainable growth dynamics

One of my favorite classes this semester is Applied Macroeconomics, taught by Professors Robert Rigobon and Tavneet Suri. For that class, I was just reading Paul Kurgman's article "How Fast Can the U.S. Economy Grow? Not as fast as 'new economy' pundits would like to think."

The article proposes that the idea of international trade, investment, and new technology making it possible for growth rates to grow exponentially is silly. Given that the article was written in 1997, and given the current state of the economy, it's easy to say eleven years later, that of course it is true. There are limits to growth. But the article also brings up the issue of "sustainable growth," which Professor John Sterman addressed two weeks ago in his Strategies for Sustainable Business lecture.

Professor Sterman is a great lecturer. He is clear, dynamic, knowledgeable, passionate... Officially, he is the Jay W. Forrester Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management and Director of MIT's System Dynamics Group but well known among the students for teaching System Dynamics and leading the Beer Game, which I wrote about last year. If you find yourself at Sloan you should take his classes.

Two weeks ago we modeled population growth, climate change, and technological innovation within a larger social and economic system. It was fascinating, and horrifying. 

January 15, 2009

Applying to an MBA program

Why did I come to business school? 

Tonight I was at a networking event sponsored by the Association of MIT Alumnae (AMITA). The alumnae there shared a plethora of career and life experience. One of the women there said that I should write my story, so as I made my way home I thought about what I would say.

I passed four people on the Kendall Square subway station platform. There was a young woman who pirouetted, and I thought: there's a ballet dancer. There was a guy staring at a poster with "Improving the fight against cancer" written on it and I thought: there's an oncologist. I passed a woman with a pale face as she stared at the floor in deep introspection. I thought: there's a psychologist. I passed another woman looking intently at the Sylvania white ecologic fluorescent lights (made in Canada). I thought: there's a photonics engineer.

Years ago when I was in China, I understood for the first time what the word global meant. Pollution and changes in the climate were not just occurring here. The polluted Charles is not the only polluted river. Pollution, waste, climate change is global--it's in everyone's backyard.

So, I changed jobs. I transitioned from a technical role to one as a "researcher" in central Mexico. I wasn't paid to be a researcher, and in no way was I officially a researcher. If you were to ask the director of the ecological center what my role was, she would not have said "researcher".

Whatever she'd originally thought my role should be, on my first day she handed me a stack of papers and said, "translate these". They were technical briefings from the World Water Forum, and for me they were an introduction to the ecological consequences of global climate change. At that time I was also editing a compilation of my grandfather's recommendations for real economic development, and witnessing first-hand the widespread pollution, water-scarcity, and economic problems of the region.

The ecological center was once nearly surrounded by a river. About fifty years ago, the river had been tall and mighty enough that a wall of earth, carved-through and bare, stood exposed to us bystanders standing more than 30 feet below. There just was no water. It only took fifty years for all of it to evaporate away. In fifty years the region was semi-desert, due to the mismanagement of the lands around it.

The area had been almost completely deforested. It's pretty hot in central Mexico, so you can imagine how quickly the deforestation accelerated the evaporation of rainwater. As soon as the water hit the hot dry dirt, it changed from liquid to gas, leaving the town and its inhabitants thirsting for the underground aquifers that each year yielded less and less water.

When the river dried up, someone came up with the idea to use the carved out space as a landfill. So, where the river once flowed fifty years ago is now piles of rotting trash with an unimaginable smell. Broken plastic tray toys, crumpled and saggy sheets of newspapers, empty and sometimes broken green beer bottles, rounded used diapers, sometimes the hollow carcass of a dead black and white cow, countless plastic bags waiting for their chance, years from now, to decompose in the sun.

The worst part of it, believe it or not, was that when it did rain, the river would flood, rushing all of that stuff with it downstream to the more populated areas and towns. To top it off, the chemicals that factories would dump in the "river" would also swell up with the tide, and weave and gurgle their way down past the homes of the people who live along what once was the river.

All these experiences came together for me in one simple question about incentives. Why would a company or companies, a town, a society, be incentivized to waste? How could a country develop in a way that doesn't destroy its natural resources? These questions led me to MIT Sloan.

Tonight, an undergrad asked me if I'd found the answer to my question, because, she said, "no one ever teaches us about that. We never think to ask why companies pollute."

Perspective matters.

Last fall, three friends--a biologist, a stock and commodities trader, and a sociologist and I--had a discussion over the ideal economic system in which to live. As the intensity of our debate rose from amused chuckles to serious droughts of silence, I found myself contrasting Adam Smith's ideology and the U.S. entrepreneurial spirit with my many eye-opening experiences abroad. The deepest source of disagreement among us seemed to be on the role of individuals within society. But what about companies? What about the economic and social systems of organization within which the individual operates?

John Maynard Keynes (1883–1946) addressed two "errors of pessimism" in his essay "The Economic Possibilities of our Grandchildren." At that time, the world was also facing a drastic economic depression. According to him, the first error was “the pessimism of the revolutionaries who think that things are so bad that nothing can save us but violent change," and the second was the "pessimism of the reactionaries who consider the balance of our economic and social life so precarious that we must risk no experiments.”

Why did I come to business school? To focus, to learn, to change.

September 15, 2008

Meeting of the minds

Sunny, warm.

There are three people meeting in the lobby of E51. There is an international student focused on making sustainable business a core subject taught in business schools. There is a New York Times subscriber with a pulse on the changing U.S. energy landscape with oil prices at $100/barrel. There is an entrepreneur itching to get out from under the cover of silo-work and bureaucratic organizations with a passion to make things happen.

I realized how important it is that these three people talk after I read the New York Times Op-Ed article about drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The sustainability student would argue that the amount of oil that could be extracted from the region is not enough, and not of a high quality, to merit destroying the irreplaceable resources there. Additionally, the pollution created in the region would affect not only the many wild species living there, but also the businesses that depend on them for their livelihoods, and even salmon-eating households in New York, Chicago, or California. 

The energy enthusiast would agree that the U.S. economy would simply collapse without affordable energy. A sense of urgency would roll over her or him, knowing that the energy and economic future of the U.S. depends in part on investments in the innovations created in institutes like MIT. Whether it be carbon sequestration processes or more efficient solar panels, smart-grids or flywheels for storing energy generated from renewable sources, the investment decisions with positive projected cash flows have to be made.

The entrepreneur may consider creating a company in the opportunities found among the cracks of the current energy landscape, or in the worst case scenario, selling real estate in outer space. 

This summer, I had the chance to be all three of these people. My two internships exposed me to new thinking on energy finance, entrepreneurship, and sustainability. Now back on campus, I'm overwhelmed with the future that we face as MBA students. We are going to have to build and manage the organizations that are the primary actors in these three arenas. The MBA class of 2010 is already well into the core. Only a semester here, they are in the midst of an intellectually and academically challenging time. Their lives are about to change, if they are willing to question some of their assumptions, and do some hard thinking and reflecting with their classmates and professors.

The career trajectories of these three students are each important, which is why they meet here at the Sloan School of Management.  Despite their seemingly diverse interests, they have a lot in common: they want to learn and do; they are not afraid of challenges; they are willing to speak their minds; and most importantly, they are all concerned with and focused on the future.

Read more about Sustainability@MIT, the MIT Energy Club, and the Entrepreneurship Center.

May 10, 2008

The value of your experience

Sunny and slightly chilly.

One good thing about being at MIT is that it is really an entrepreneurial place--there's an entrepreneurial "ecosystem" which includes the E-Center, as well as courses taught by current and former entrepreneurs with their battle scars and all, anecdotes and knowledge to share. How good is the ecosystem of entrepreneurs though, in a time when everyone seems to want to be or train entrepreneurs? Some exposure to other programs and events has shown me that this one is actually is pretty good. We get to ask and give advice, share our experiences, try our hands at new ventures through classes and with mentors, and live and breathe the experiences of entrepreneurs--as much as that's possible without actually living someone else's life (in reverse).

Several weeks ago I interviewed one of the co-founders of Z Corporation and last week I got to ask a few questions of one of the co-founders of Nantucket Nectars and of a co-founder of A123 Systems. There are some things you can only get first hand. Afterwards, my friend Melissa and I were deconstructing the various entrepreneurship narratives that we heard from these very different co-founders. She mentioned how in the book Good to Great, Jim Collins finally gives up his attempt to frame success, admitting that each person's story is uniquely his and her own. As I walked to the Marriott to meet another friend to go over our homework, looking at my feet, I wondered about my own story of success. What path am I marking now?

Before getting as overwhelmed as I was, here are some lucky things that MIT has to offer:

  • Wonderful friends who have great breadth of experience as former entrepreneurs. The stories I've heard are shocking, compelling and frankly humbling.
  • Alumni mentors and professors who take the time to listen to you and carefully give you advice based on what you ask for.
  • An amazing network of creative and real people who have accomplished some noteworthy things.

These last few weeks were very busy. I participated in Energy Week and events leading up to the Energy Conference, Earth Day (Week), and the Sustainability C-Function. My brother graduated from his dual master's program at the University of Michigan, so I had the chance to see Ann Arbor and that school's campus and culture. Now, with one week left of classes, I find myself slowly saying goodbye to my Sloan friends in the class of 2008.

What can I say about them? At the Sloan Olympics this morning I saw people who I consider true friends, who've listened and counseled me. We played Tug 'O War, raced around the track, told "clean" jokes, cheered, ate and tossed water balloons at each other. Although I feel sadness knowing that the second years are going on into their new lives (armed with new knowledge and exposure), I've been thinking about what kind of school I want to help create for the class of 2010. To the incoming class, I can only say welcome. Like the great entrepreneurial ecosystem that it is, you can make MIT Sloan the school what you want it to be.

March 30, 2008

Spring break in Ghana

We are somewhere over the Atlantic on the way back to Boston via New York, from Ghana--the "Warrior King". The trip was transformative. The 25 or so students who participated in the class were welcomed in Ghana by friends, family, high level officials, pioneering and established businesses, and MIT alumni. We toured much of the Accra metropolitan area, as well as Kumasi. All of these exposures--economic, cultural, historical, political--started to reveal a country that moved me although I don't exactly know why.

Dinner Children
Shrine Market

LagartoA formal, for-credit class at Sloan, the special seminar prepared us for the trip through a series of lectures and activities. The first session shook out my assumptions about the African continent--primarily that it is a primitive and homogeneous place.

Ghana is a diverse country. There are many tribes, traditions and languages spoken. The wide gap in the standard of living between the poor and the middle class, and between the middle class and the ruling class is hard to ignore. Likewise, a walk through the market in Accra, and several company visits showed us a similar spread in the world of commerce and trade. However, regardless of the situation--whether we were at a university or in a government building, a new start-up or a large manufacturing plant, we were always welcomed with an unusual warmth.

We are all reflective on the plane and I'm sad to leave. Aside from a great introduction to a stable and developing country, the trip was a nice chance to get to know other Sloanies, and to uncover, in such a diverse setting, some of our surprising commonalities.

Read more about the Ghana trip.

March 16, 2008

I didn't follow your advice, but...

Early this afternoon my phone rang. It was a friend who always makes me laugh out loud. She called to say it was sixty degrees where she lives in North Carolina, and that she planned on going hiking. "Hiking?" I said, "it's 29 degrees here." She laughed.

Fine, sometimes it's cold in Boston. Today isn't too bad though and anyone who's from here can tell you that the spring is around the corner. There are tell-tale signs: increasingly more daylight, the days have started earlier, and more importantly, you can smell it. Yup. You can. That frozen-over cold gives way to the smell of all the leaves that were frozen underneath the snow all winter. People put perfume on. They bake. The bin of recyclables starts to thaw. You can smell it's almost spring.

So my friend and I start to update each other on our lives. I tell her midterms just finished and that I pitched an idea to an investor, interviewed innovators over the phone, co-wrote two papers on markets and innovative business practices, and took a big exam. I almost tell her that I've been catching up on rest and sleep this morning. I really haven't. I've been thinking about my summer internship. Inevitably, every MBA student asks themselves what they really want to do with their lives and time is so precious that the summer can't be wasted.

Last Thursday afternoon, Louis Gerstner, the former CEO of IBM came to talk to the Sloan community. What did he talk about? Practice, practice, practice. He said that the four hours every Saturday morning that one person spends working on their golf swing should be balanced by the same amount of time working on being a manager and leader. Practice being a manager and a leader. What are leaders about?  He said, "they are about passion. They are willing to open up an show themselves--they don't hide behind facts or memos."

Internships. Passions. My friend reminds me of something I told her when we were undergrads. She says, "I didn't follow your advice, but I remembered what you said. You said, sometimes you can't be afraid, you just have to jump." Did I say that? Shades of a wilder and carefree girl come back to haunt me. What do I want to do with my life?

This week, midway trough Sloan Innovation Period (SIP), I fly to Ghana with twenty five or so other MBA students. In April, I am helping to organize Energy Week events on campus leading up to the Energy Conference, and then the Sustainability Consumption Function and Earth Day (Week). I walk through the buildings on campus and what I really want is to put stickers on the revolving doors that remind people how much we contribute to CO2 emissions by not using them. I want to find a home for all of the things I'd rather sell or recycle than put in the trash. I want to have already found a summer internship.

February 29, 2008

Leadership, like love

Who do you listen to? How do you decide to follow? And, more importantly, for students like us who will be the business leaders of the world, how do we chose to lead?

I'm listening to Susan Hockfield's conversation with Charlie Rose online. Among other things she is talking about research, higher education, stereotypical thinking around women not being engineers, and about being a woman in a leadership position. Ruth Simmons, the president of Brown University, where I studied as an undergraduate student was also on the show some time ago.

Like other Sloan Women in Management, I am incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to be associated with such leaders. As a member of SWIM, I have had the chance to have lunch with incredible leaders like the CTO of Xerox, Sophie Vandebroek and DuPont Executive Vice President, Ellen Kullman. I am so lucky. The lunch conversations were incredibly frank, eye-opening, guiding, and practical. Their astute and warm leadership styles started me thinking about the role models we pick for ourselves.   

The conversation around leadership started this morning. I was sitting in the lobby of building E-52 staring into my computer screen and cradling my coffee mug. Finance recitation had just finished and I was thinking about valuation. Value. Value creation. The summer before starting my studies at Sloan, I was reading about the value-creating education ideas pioneered in Japan in Ethical Visions of Education: Philosophies in Practice. The idea goes something like this:

Value is created from "beauty and good", and that is what allows people to expand their capacity as members of society. Because they are more capable, they can likewise expand the activities which society itself engages in.

Value-creation has a slightly different definition in the world of strategy, and valuation is a lot more different in the world of finance. 

Abby Phelps and I started talking about a presentation that we'd both attended last night on corporate social responsibility by a senior executive at Coca Cola. The speaker said he'd seen both good leadership and bad leadership throughout his career. He also said something that made me think about the legacy of the work we choose to do in society. Who will take up the work that we've put so much time and effort into? These were some of the things we were talking about when I asked Abby what she thought leadership was. "Leadership, like love, is hard to define. It is something you always have to work at."

With all of the chances we have at Sloan to lead, all of the exposure we get to established firms, growing firms and brand new start-ups, and all of the freedom we are given to create the projects that we lead, leadership is something we think about. Leading is different than managing. Managing requires a certain level of competence, but leadership is another thing. Setting the course is another thing.

Last Thursday night I had a conversation with a student admitted to MIT Sloan about social entrepreneurship and corporate social responsibility. Because the school doesn't advertise the magnitude and breadth of all of the work that we do in this area, it may help to point to the bigger picture regarding what the school is doing regarding its relationship to the world as a whole.

Aside from pioneering Open Courseware (OCW) and an incredible portfolio of society-changing ideas and solutions, MIT has chosen to focus on the problems of energy and the environment. The school is truly a global leader in this area, especially because we are a creative, passionate and enthusiastic group, and because the culture of the school is to let us invent, innovate and use our hands and our minds. It doesn't hurt that MIT is at the forefront of energy and environmental research because of the school's commitment to it (read more about the Energy Initiative) and because of the great access we have to technology at the institute. And, as the research done by one of MIT's Nobel Prize winning economists, Robert Solow, showed, 50% of the post-WWII economic growth in the U.S. was attributable to technology. 

The elementary school I went to is called the John M. Tobin School. That may be the reason why I paid attention to an email that I got with a quote from Nobel Laureate James Tobin (1918 - 2002). The email began with the quote "The most important decisions a scholar makes are what problems to work on." James Tobin believed that the goal of academics is not just to teach students with 100% commitment and produce outstanding research, but also to serve the public. MIT has created the kind of environment where these three things are possible.

January 29, 2008

Sustainability, tunnels and ice skating

Sleepy gray, chilly.

This morning was one of those chilly gray mornings. The little weather app that I installed into my Mozilla browser said it felt like 34 degrees Fahrenheit. I was up early to volunteer for and attend the Alliance for Global Sustainability conference. This year's conference,
Designing Pathways for a Sustainable World: at Scale, in Time, and for All, is hosted at MIT in the Stata Center. The keynote speaker was Dr. R.K. Pachauri, Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and General Director of The Energy and Resources Institute. The IPCC was awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize for Peace last December, along with former United States Vice President, Al Gore, "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change".

Photo of Dr. Pachauri from http://www.pensee-unique.frIn this morning's program Dr. Pachauri talked a lot about the consequences of climate change. Some of the contents of his report were familiar:

  • The Arctic region is warming twice as fast as the rest of the globe.
  • There will be a major clamor for natural resources in that region, which can easily lead to political conflict, and which make up part of sustainable development concerns.
  • We need to be concerned about 0 to 5 degrees Celsius temperature increases because of the impact that warming will have on water resources. These include decreases in water availability in mid-latitude and semi-arid latitudes, complete ecosystems threatened by the loss of water, reduced food production capability in some areas, and the hundreds of millions of people exposed to drought.
  • Our inertia in reducing CO2 emissions means that we will have to adapt to the consequences which will result from decades of global warming that will continue after we decrease or cease emissions. We need to start developing an early warning system to help us adapt and identify the most vulnerable locations and develop their adaptive capacity.

He also reported some new information:

  • Adaptation:
    • We will have develop ways to cope with water scarcity, develop disaster preparedness programs and establish measures for good governance.
    • Our adaptation efforts must include building the infrastructure to cope with extreme weather and events. Other efforts must include developing new strains of crops that are more resistant to  temperature changes. For example, there is evidence from Northern India that yields of wheat are negatively affected by climate changes in the area.
    • Adaptation will also have to include changes to the ways that people earn their livelihoods, since, basically there will have to be new ways en masse for people to make a living.
    • Adaptation alone won't be enough because beyond a certain point it, will be too costly and too severe to try to adapt to the new elemental, social and economic conditions that will result from climate change.
    • Continued CO2 emissions at our current level will lead to between 1.8 to 4.0 degrees Celsius increase in temperature for the next two centuries. The rising sea levels that result from global warming will effect vulnerable regions like the tundra, mountains and coral reefs, small islands, delta regions like Shanghai, and large parts of coastal Africa and Asia.
    • There are irreversible consequences to continued global warming for places like Greenland and West Antarctica, where water level will rise several meters, and force some populations to migrate to other regions because of the loss of land. It is also likely that 20-30% of species will become extinct due to warming exceeding 1.5 to 2.5 degrees Celsius.
    • We only have a small window of time before sea levels begin to rise, due to thermal expansion in the oceans.
    • It is essential to invest in public transportation and promote correct R&D, especially in developing countries, create incentives and technology flows so that the portfolio of technologies currently available or in development make it to the market.

The conference runs throughout the week so I'm sure there is more information coming.

Last week I took one cool IAP course that was an intro to mobile device development. I was hoping my dad, who was in town briefly, would be able to attend with me, but his schedule didn't allow it. Other Sloan students have taken advantage of yoga and meditation courses offered during IAP. I also got to sit in on various courses that didn't require pre-registration, and were open to anyone curious on the subject. In retrospect, my days were a little too packed with courses, but there was a lot to learn and get exposed to. In fact, I doubt that any Sloanie who took IAP courses had an experience like the one Dylan Howard reported in www.learningtoloveyoumore.com.

IAP has also given me the chance to explore the campus a little further. For example, I've found and traversed the tunnels that go from one end of campus to another, and in the process, come across what looked like an IAP glass-blowing lab. Emerging from building E25, after what seemed like hours later, I felt strangely proud.

I also got to go ice skating! A few friends and I were kicking around ideas about what would be fun to do together, and my roommate introduced me to the skating rink on campus. And I only fell once, thank you very much. 

January 14, 2008

Independent Activities Period

Overcast and snowing.

If you haven't heard the metaphor about drinking from a firehose yet, let me share it with you: being at MIT is like drinking from a firehose. It is not like sipping tea or leaning into the trickle flowing out of the water fountain. IAP is no different.

Night view of San Francisco photo by Chester Liu, MIT Sloan MBA Candidate, Class of 2009Although these few weeks have been a little slower-paced than the core semester, there's still a lot happening. Many students are participating in "externships" with companies or interviewing for the more traditional career tracks--consulting and banking. Others, like me, participated in the E&I Silicon Valley Trek (see the Boston Globe story) and the Massachusetts Energy, Bio and Tech Trek. Both Treks were packed with company visits including innovators like Google, VMWare and EnerNOC, more traditional companies like NSTAR, and opportunities to meet alumni and VCs. Personally, the visit to the Brayton Point Power Plant--a coal-fired power plant--was a dream come true, not only because I would have not been exposed to the power-generation process up-close otherwise, but also because of the capital investments they have made to be environmentally sustainable.

Night view of San Francisco photo by Chester Liu, MIT Sloan MBA Candidate, Class of 2009

Aside from exposure to so many business models and technology innovation in Silicon Valley and Massachusetts, the most valuable part of the Treks was being able to spend time with my classmates and getting to know and work with them.

Nadia, to respond to your questions about the E&I program: this IAP I am taking classes which include the Nuts and Bolts of Business Plans, several  programming courses and one statistics course. Although we aren't required to have a business plan before entering the E&I program, there is an expectation that throughout our time at Sloan, the E&I-ers we will create or participate in the creation of at least one. We are given many opportunities to do that through the MIT 100K Entrepreneurship Competition, MIT IDEAS Competition, and the new and awesome $200,000 Grand Prize MIT Clean Energy Entrepreneurship Prize Competition. We also have on-going exposure to what's happening via seminars like the Energy Futures Week and resources like the MIT Technology Licensing Office.

I have been able to sneak in some much-needed family time both in Cambridge and Puerto Rico, catch up with a friend from high school and college in San Francisco who is working on a cool project called See How You Feel, go to a friend's baby shower and get the update on the Build a School in Africa Project. The Project has helped to build the third school in the village of Koloni-Foulala for grades 7-9. Because there are very few "higher grade" schools in the entire country, this school is a very big deal in Mali.

Snow_storm_2_011408_Malaika_Thorne Snow_storm_1_011408_Malaika_Thorne Meanwhile, it's snowing here--the first snow storm of 2008. During this IAP--a breather of sorts--I can enjoy the little things that make up life's soundtrack. There's the soft drone of the news on the radio. I hear the old man who lives in the house next door shoveling the walk way.