MIT Club of Washington DC

The Club of Washington DC is a dynamic, volunteer driven organization serving more than 8,000 area alumni/ae, students, parents, and friends. We welcome your participation by becoming a Club member,  coming to events, or volunteering. In the year ending June 30, 2014, we organized and/or participated in over 100 events.

May Newsletter

Event Highlights


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The following events are not yet open for registration. When they are, they will move to the "Event Highlights" section above.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Christopher Monroe -- Quantum Technology: Putting Weirdness to Use
Quantum information science in the 21st century links two pillars of 20th century thought: information theory and quantum mechanics.  This new field exploits the bizarre features of quantum mechanics--uncertainty, entanglement, and measurement--to perform tasks that are impossible using conventional means.  We anticipate that exotic quantum hardware such as individual trapped atoms and single photons will not only find their way into 21st century technology, but also bring quantum weirdness to the forefront and stimulate new ways of thinking about fundamental aspects of the physical world.

Christopher Monroe of the Joint Quantum Institute and the University of Maryland, is an experimental atomic physicist who specializes in the isolation of individual atoms for studies in quantum physics and applications in quantum information science.  After getting his undergraduate degree from MIT and PhD at the University of Colorado, he spent 1992-2000 at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.  With 2012 Nobel Laureate David Wineland, Monroe led the research team that demonstrated the first quantum logic gate in 1995, and exploited the use of trapped atoms for applications in quantum information science.  In 2000, Monroe became Professor of Physics and Electrical Engineering at the University of Michigan, where he spearheaded the use of single photons to couple quantum information between atoms and also demonstrated the first electromagnetic atom trap integrated on a semiconductor chip.  From 2006-2007 was the Director of the Ultrafast Optics Center at the University of Michigan.  In 2007 he became the Bice Zorn Professor of Physics at the University of Maryland and a Fellow of the Joint Quantum Institute.  In 2008, Monroe's group succeeded in producing quantum entanglement between two widely separated atoms and for the first time teleported quantum information between atoms separated by a large distance.  His Maryland laboratory currently controls the largest collection of interacting quantum bits.

Lecture location TBD; Optional pre-lecture pay-your-own dinner @ location TBD.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Christopher Codella -- IBM Watson
Christopher F. Codella, Ph.D.Computer systems that can directly and accurately answer peoples' questions over a broad domain of human knowledge have been envisioned by scientists and writers since the advent of computers themselves. Open domain question answering holds tremendous promise for facilitating informed decision making over vast volumes of natural language content. Applications in business intelligence, healthcare, customer support, enterprise knowledge management, social computing, science and government would all benefit from deep language processing. The Watson project is aimed at exploring how advancing and integrating Natural Language Processing (NLP), Information Retrieval (IR), Machine Learning (ML), massively parallel computation and Knowledge Representation and Reasoning (KR&R) can greatly advance open-domain automatic question answering. An exciting proof-point in this challenge was to develop a computer system that could successfully compete against top human players at the Jeopardy! quiz show. Attaining champion-level performance Jeopardy! requires a computer system to rapidly and accurately answer rich open-domain questions, and to predict its own performance on any given category/question. The system must deliver high degrees of precision and confidence over a very broad range of knowledge and natural language content with a 3-second response time. To do this Watson evidences and evaluates many competing hypotheses. A key to success is automatically learning and combining accurate confidences across an array of complex algorithms and over different dimensions of evidence. Accurate confidences are needed to know when to “buzz in” against your competitors and how much to bet. High precision and accurate confidence computations are just as critical for providing real value in business settings where helping users focus on the right content sooner and with greater confidence can make all the difference. The need for speed and high precision demands a massively parallel computing platform capable of generating, evaluating and combing thousands of hypotheses and their associated evidence. In this talk Dr. Chris Codella will introduce the audience to the Watson, the Jeopardy! challenge, how we tackled it using Watson, and where Watson is headed next.

Dr. Christopher F. Codella is an IBM Distinguished Engineer and Public Sector Chief Technology Officer, IBM Watson Group. His current activities center around complex data analytics, particularly applying IBM’s Watson technology to build solutions that support the missions of government agencies at all levels. He earned a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Cornell University in 1984. Dr. Codella first joined IBM in 1979 at the East Fishkill, NY semiconductor lab working on advanced memory devices. In 1989 he became a Research Staff Member in the Computer Science Department at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center where he managed the Virtual Worlds Group developing software for collaborative, networked virtual environments. Later, as Senior Manager of the Enterprise Middleware department at the T. J. Watson Research Center, he led a team in development of object-oriented application server technology, distributed systems, reusable software components, component architecture, and web services. He has received IBM's Invention Achievement Awards and Outstanding Technical Achievement Awards for his contributions to Enterprise Java and J2EE, and for leading the development of IBM Research’s Global Technology Outlook for 2003. From 2003 to 2008 Dr. Codella served as Deputy Chief Technology Officer of IBM Federal. Dr. Codella is a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, author of numerous of professional publications and conference papers, and holder of several US and international patents.

Dinner meeting @ Maggiano's Chevy Chase. $46 pp members/guests; $53 pp non-members.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Nergis Mavalvala -- The Warped Side of the Universe
Some of the most violent events in the universe are accompanied by spectacular warpages of space-time that travel to us in the form of gravitational waves. Dr. Nergis Mavalvala will describe how we search for these space-time ripples with the goal of observing the Universe with a new sense entirely. Then, surprisingly, she will link our quest to detect gravitational radiation to the bizarre world of quantum mechanics, thus connecting some of the largest scales of exploration to the some of the smallest. Join us on a journey from the far reaches of the Universe to the subatomic world. 

Dr. Mavalvala is a physicist whose research links the world of quantum mechanics, usually apparent only at the atomic scale, with some of the most powerful, yet elusive, forces in the cosmos. She studies quantum phenomena in interferometric gravitational wave detectors--giant "telescopes" that aim to observe space-time ripples from neutron stars and black holes. She received a B.A. from Wellesley College in 1990 and a Ph.D. from MIT in 1997. She was a postdoctoral fellow and research scientist at the California Institute of Technology between 1997 and 2002. Since 2002, she has been on the Physics faculty at MIT where she is now the Kathleen and Curtis Marble Professor of Astrophysics. She is a fellow of the American Physical Society, of the Optical Society of America, and a 2010 MacArthur fellow. In her spare time, she loves to bicycle long distances, play sports, and hang out with her 6-year-old son. 

Dinner meeting at the Kenwood Club in Bethesda.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Annual "Welcome to Washington" Oktoberfest
Alums new to the area as well as Club members are invited to this annual event. Free food! Date is tentative. Location TBD.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Vegan Dinner & Discussion--Ken Shapiro--"I Am a Vegetarian"
A life-long animal protectionist and vegetarian, Shapiro describes vegetarianism as more than a restrictive diet, a way of living that radically addresses and redresses these relationships.

Joint with the Harvard Club. Dinner meeting at Hogan Lovells in DC. MIT and Harvard Club Members and their guests: $35 pp; non-members $65 pp.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Seminar Series -- The Brain
Six-session series on the brain. Tuesdays October through March: October 21, November 18, December 9, January 13, February 10, March 10. Dinner meetings at Maggiano's Chevy Chase.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Matt Brinckman -- Reviving the American Chestnut Tree
This presentation will cover the history, demise, and restoration efforts of the American Chestnut in the United States, including economic, ecological, cultural, and technical aspects of this iconic tree species. In a matter of a few decades, the American chestnut, Castanea dentata, was brought to ecological extinction by a disease introduced from Asia. The chestnut blight (Cryphonectria parasitica) was first discovered in New York in 1904, at a time when a majority of the forest in the Appalachian region was dominated by chestnuts. The American Chestnut Foundation’s backcross breeding program and restoration efforts will be discussed in detail.

Matt Brinckman joined The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) in 2012 as the Regional Science Coordinator for the Mid-Atlantic region, which includes the VA, WV and MD state chapters of TACF. He holds both BS and MS degrees in Forest Management from Virginia Tech and has an extensive background in silviculture, forest ecology, geographic information systems, tree care, and pest management. Before joining TACF, Matt was an Extension Faculty member in Virginia Tech’s department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation where he led multiple initiatives and dealt with diverse natural resource stakeholders from various levels of industry, academia, and youth. He has also developed multiple, self-paced online tutorials for foresters, loggers, and landowners.Our speaker is The American Chestnut Foundation's  Mid-Atlantic Regional Scientist.

Location TBD.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Daniel E. Hastings -- Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology
MIT has a substantial history of international activities related to research and education, and the expanding global connections of the 21st century are providing the Institute with increasing opportunities to engage in projects and collaborations outside of the U.S. MIT has been involved in Singapore since 1999 with the SMA-1 and SMA-2 programs. These programs laid the basis for the current involvement of the Singapore MIT Alliance in Research and Technology (SMART) and the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD). Singapore represents an existing MIT base in Asia. This is especially of value given that the leading economic indicators as well as R&D indicators show Asia as a place of increasing strength relative to the position of the US. Singapore has shown a willingness to think creatively in the long term about its research needs as well as the research needs to which it can contribute in the future. It has defined several large scale challenges that it faces as a city and which other cities will face. The talk will describe the MIT program in SMART, the large scale interdisciplinary intellectual challenges that are being addressed spanning human systems, energy systems, urban systems and environmental systems as well as the benefits to MIT and Singapore that both sides are seeing.

Professor Hastings is Director/CEO of the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) initiative, and the Cecil and Ida Green Education Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Engineering Systems at MIT. He spearheads SMART Centre’s vision to create the model for globalized research collaborations and shape multinational interdisciplinary research. Prior to this, he was MIT’s dean of undergraduate education from 2006 to 2013, supporting innovations in student learning--both in and outside the classroom--as well as promoting global educational opportunities and student diversity.  He earned a Ph.D. and an S.M, from MIT in Aeronautics and Astronautics in 1980 and 1978 respectively, after receiving his B.A. in Mathematics from Oxford University in 1976. He joined the MIT faculty as an assistant professor in 1985, advancing to associate professor in 1988 and full professor in 1993. Prof. Hastings served the Engineering Systems Division (ESD) as the Director of the Technology and Policy Program from 2000-2003, Associate Director of ESD from July 2001 - April, 2003, Co-Director from May, 2003 - June, 2004, and Director from July 2004 - December 2005.

Prof. Hastings served as Chief Scientist to the U.S. Air Force from 1997 to 1999. In that role, he served as chief scientific adviser to the Chief of Staff and the Secretary and provided assessments on a wide range of scientific and technical issues affecting the Air Force mission.

Dinner Meeting. Location TBD.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Annual Career Workshop
Joint with the Sloan School. Workshop and sandwich buffet. Date is tentative. Location TBD.


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