A Day in the Life: MIT Student

A Day in the Life: MIT Student

August 20, 2019 100 By Stanley Isaacs


(rustling) (drumming) – Hi, my name’s Garrett Parrish, and I’m a senior at MIT studying mechanical engineering and
entertainment technology. I’m also a musician,
designer, an engineer, and I spend my time combining all 3 of those disciplines
using technology. (drumming) I usually wake up at around
8 o’clock in the morning. Start, you know, getting
ready for the day, have my Trader Joe’s raspberry
oatmeal every single day. Then I usually leave the
house about 9:30 or so. I usually don’t have class in the morning, so I either work on some
of my music or my homework, or some of the other
projects I’m working on. Grab some lunch in Kendall
Square or around campus. Go to class, usually in the
afternoon for a couple hours. And then at night I usually have rehearsal or some other, you know, meeting with some of the various activities I do, and then come back to
the house for dinner, hang out with friends,
you know, do my work, and then eventually get back to sleep. (relaxed music) – You mentioned that combining music, technology, engineering. Sort of broadly speaking,
what does that look like? What does that mean? – So, I tried very, very consciously not to pigeonhole myself
into one discipline. I think it’s really important
for everybody to do that. Ever since I was really young I’ve always done both
music and engineering, and that was, you know, my
path throughout high school and into college, because
I’m equally passionate about both and, you know,
both are absolutely critical to who I am as a human being. And I think that when you
can combine them effectively, you can achieve far more than you could with just one of them. So, it was really MIT that
showed me that that was possible, and that I could not have to keep those two parts of my life separate, and just do ’em both at the same time. – So, what is, what does your
living situation look like? – So, I live in a co-ed
literary fraternity of about 60 students
called the Number Six Club. We live on campus, even
though it’s privately owned, and we eat together, socialize together, work together, hang out
together, go out together, and it’s a really, really
wonderful community of people. One of the most interesting parts about it is that there’s a high constituent of international students. So, I’m actually one of only about 3 or 4 Americans that live in the house, and it’s really interesting to be able to be exposed to different cultures from all around the world. We have Greece, Sweden, Germany, Columbia, Venezuela, all over the place. I mean, it’s really cool, because everyone’s kind of an outsider, so it really brings everybody together in, like a true family of students. – Walk me around this room then. Lot going on here.
– Sure, so, this is, I call this my castle,
’cause I really like castles, and because I’m obsessed
with Disney, obviously. – That’s thematic.
– Yeah. So, first and most important
part is the ceiling. This is a replica of the night sky my, the girl who had the room before me actually painted it, but then
I installed all the lights. And one of the great
things about Number Six is that they allow you
to renovate your room, and do what you want
with it within reason, and even reimburse you for parts of it. So, I put in a floor, I
painted, added the lights, and really, you know, made it my own space and a place that I feel
comfortable coming home to. So, it’s not just a dorm room. (relaxed music) So, over here I kinda have my music space. So, this is my electronic drum set, which allows me to play drums
at any time of the night, and not bother anybody. So, this is my desk where
I do most of my work. Right now, I’m working for an arrangement for the jazz ensemble that I play in here. It’s debuting in about a month, and behind my desk I have
a lot of the drawings I do, And I’ve always been fascinated
with the Disney characters, and I really was interested in getting to know more about visual art, and I actually took a
drawing class here at MIT which really opened my
eyes about not being afraid to just, you know, dive into something. So, these are a lot of my first sketches and color drawings of the
different Disney characters, and it’s been a really good experience. (relaxed music) – [Interviewer] So,
what’s this building here? – So, this is Kresge Auditorium. It’s the main concert and
event space on campus, and this is where most
of the music concerts, and recitals, and events happen. – [Interviewer] Okay, and so what does the music scene look like at MIT? – So, there’s a common
misconception around MIT, that it’s all engineering and just science and math.
– [Interviewer] Numbers. – And numbers all the time.
– [Interviewer] Numbers. – But that’s totally not true. There’s a very vibrant art scene. There’s a very vibrant music scene. I’ve mainly been involved
in the music scene here. There’s a jazz ensemble.
There’s choruses. There’s orchestras, symphony orchestras, 1 ensemble, African drumming groups, pretty much anything
that you could imagine. And the administration’s
really, really supportive of students that wanna
get involved in the arts because, you know, everybody here is studying some form of
engineering or science, so the art and music groups, you know, have a really, really nice camaraderie, because everyone is doing it
purely because of passion. (relaxed music) – [Interviewer] So, what
do you major in at MIT? – So, I’m majoring in
mechanical engineering with a flexible
concentration that allows me to focus on something else, and that concentration is
entertainment technology. – Is that a flexible
concentration that you built, or was that sort of pre-existing? – So, there are some pre-existing ones like energy, transportation, robotics, but I decided to create my own flexible, custom concentration in the
entertainment technology. – [Interviewer] And what
did that process look like, building that concentration? – So, it’s surprisingly simple. MIT does have a lot of
support for, you know, students kinda making their
own versions of their majors and Course 2, mechanical engineering, has an option that you
can submit a proposal with a list of classes that are relevant, and you, you know, write some essays about why it’s important to you, why each class contributes to this, and you just make the proposal, and you talk to your advisor and, hopefully, you can get approved. – Great, great, what do you think makes the MIT Engineering Department
different or special as compared to other
schools, from your knowledge? – So, I think there’s been a big push in the past couple decades, you know, to increase STEM
education, and engineering, but the thing about MIT
is that they’ve been doing it long, long before it was ever cool to be building things. – That’s not the concern, the cool factor.
– Right. And the professors here, you know, they’re the people that
invented the internet, invented all of these technologies that, you know, are so
ubiquitous to us now. So, just the amount of community knowledge is just unfathomable, and
you get to learn from these true leaders in every
single technological field. So, you never have to
worry that, you know, you’re learning the right thing, or you’re thinking about things correctly, because they’re just so
good at what they do. They’re just like, “‘Kay,
this is what you gotta know. “You’re gonna be in this situation. “You’re gonna have to
think about it this way. “So, you need to learn this,
and that, and et cetera.” So, it’s just really, really
helpful to be in class, and to be able to just
completely pay attention and be like, “Okay, I know
what I’m supposed to know.” And then just go do it. – – [Interviewer] Yeah, yeah. – And I think there’s a huge focus at MIT on practical learning, and I think that that’s something that a lot of other schools
and a lot of other communities are trying to ramp up,
but the idea of, you know, learning through doing, and
MIT’s motto is “Mind and Hand.” So, you both, you know, study the theory, but then you have really
intense lab classes, and MIT really actually
gives you tangible skills that you can use to build
things, to make things, to design things that, you
know, are hard to get sometimes. – Do you have a good example
of a class where you had a cool learning-by-doing experience?
– Yeah. So, the mechanical
engineering capstone class is called 2.009, it’s the
product engineering process, and it’s a class, truly, like no other. So, there’s 8 teams of students. Each gets a budget of about $7,000, and over the course of the semester, the 20 people on your team have to come up with a product, design it, build it, and then pitch it
by the end of the semester. – – [Interviewer] Do you do every stage? – Every single stage. You’re basically like a little startup, and you go from, you know,
a blank sheet of paper to being on a stage in Kresge, you know, pitching your product to the world. And, you, know, you have
space in lab to do it, you have professors, you
have technical instructors to help you, communication instructors. But just the experience of
being given the opportunity to be in a leadership
position at such a young age when you’re just coming off of all of your rigorous technical education, like, you actually learn a lot
of the other problems that go into making anything, because it’s not just the
equations and everything. It’s, you know, how do
you deal with people? How do you design for a human being? How do you, you know, design
something to be manufactured? And having the opportunity in a safe, you know, constructive
learning environment, to do that when the stakes aren’t huge is incredibly valuable. (relaxed music) – Before I let you go and do all the work that you gotta do. – Yeah.
– Do you have any parting wisdom for high school students, any, like, mantras? – Yeah, so I think
something that I live by is the idea that it’s
okay to be in the middle, and to not, you know,
live in the extreme world, and not pigeonhole
yourself in one discipline. And it’s okay to both
like art and engineering, or both wanna do music and do something completely different, and it’s okay to have different interests, and it’s really important, you know, to show that if you’re
applying to college, or just life in general, generally, ’cause those parts of you that, you know, you don’t always service
through your school major or through your research,
they’re still parts of you. So, they need to be celebrated. (relaxed music) So, if you like this video and wanna learn more about colleges,
don’t forget to subscribe. (relaxed music) Alright, so if you like this video and you wanna learn more–
(Interviewer laughs loudly) – [Interviewer] Do you
need to come back through? – No, that’s okay, I got
my finger on the button.