HEAF students loaded up the bus bright and early and hit the road to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for an adventurous day during Spring Break. Michael Johnson, HEAF’s President and CEO, Stephane Essama, HEAF Leadership Council Deputy Chair, Petiri Reed, HEAF Associate Board Nominating Chair and HEAF program staff joined 28 of our students on this trip.

The trip was special for Michael Johnson, who is an alumnus of MIT. He told the students that he comes back to MIT often, but that this time was different because he had his people, his crew with him on this trip. He was proud not only to show HEAF students the wonders of MIT, but also to show off HEAF students to MIT.

It was a beautiful New England spring day, so the obvious choice was to have lunch outside. John Dozier, MIT’s Institute Community and Equity Officer, joined the students for lunch. John said he was “excited about HEAF being at MIT because students are the future, and we are depending on them.” He explained that his job is to help think about “how we get from where we are to where we want to be, and how it relates to the community”. The students loved hearing about MIT and the connection with the Marvel Universe which references MIT in multiple movies and is Iron Man’s alma mater.

After lunch, students toured the MIT campus. They learned about the history of MIT, what life on campus is like, and they even learned some of the famous MIT hacks (jokes) that students have performed on the school throughout the years. While on the tour, students asked some great questions, and got excited about possibly having a future at MIT.

Next up on the agenda was a trip to the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics to meet with Professor Wesley Harris and his team. Professor Harris was very impressed by the responses HEAF students gave to his questions, and by the questions they posed to him. “You represent so much to us and for us – our future. There are serious issues that YOU will solve in the future, like food insecurity” said Professor Harris. Students were enthralled by Professor Harris’s remarks, and were thrilled to have an opportunity to experience first-hand the famous MIT Wind Tunnel. Trying to walk around the wind tunnel with 40 mph winds blowing at them was both fun and educational – and that was a small breeze compared to the 230 mph winds the tunnel can produce! The original wind tunnel on campus was none other than the famous Wright Brothers Wind Tunnel, which became a campus landmark in 1938. The department used the wind tunnel that the Wright Brothers themselves made famous up until 2017, when MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics replaced the tunnel with the most advanced academic wind tunnel in the country. You can read more about the wind tunnel and its history here.

For the last stop of the day, students had the amazing opportunity to visit the famous MIT Media Lab, which is not open to the public. The media lab has hundreds of different life-changing research projects existing under its roof from biotechnology to robotics, our students were inspired by the possibilities.

“I’m so pleased our students had the opportunity to experience MIT first-hand, exposure to college opportunities is a critical part of their paths to success,” Michael Johnson said. “We are so grateful to Stephane Essama for not only chaperoning our trip, but also for generously underwriting the day.”

For more information on supporting future HEAF college tours and other activities, email [email protected]