THE IDEA FACTORY by Pepper White


Learning to Think at MIT
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 An informative and entertaining report on how a Johns Hopkins graduate faced the challenge of his young life when he embarked on a master's program in engineering at one of the toughest science schools on earth. Among the most intimidating credentials to go for in the field of technology are ``MIT cubed''--a bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree from the venerable Massachusetts Institute of Technology. North Carolina native White, son of a musician and a writer and product of a ``well-rounded'' environmental-engineering and liberal-arts education at Johns Hopkins, would have been happy with MIT simple--a master's degree in engineering. But even that accomplishment seemed dauntingly unreachable as, on registration day, he traversed MIT's infinite corridor from Building 13 to Building 6, still expecting to learn that his admission to MIT's graduate school was the result of a clerical error. From his first days spent floundering through classroom lectures (it was several semesters before White learned what a scientific model is)-- buddying up to millionaire professors who'd built companies around their patented inventions, attempting to solve technical conundrums and build miniature machines--to the final dash to the finish as other students fell victim to suicide and burnout, White struggled to maneuver through an intellectual boot camp while trying to maintain a modicum of emotional equilibrium. Here, he plays his advantage as a liberal-arts type who's a semi-outsider to full advantage as he searches for the meaning behind the madness. Despite his denunciations of MIT's merciless environment, his writing itself stands as a heartening example of MIT's broader aim- -to teach its students how to think. Required reading for all college applicants with a yen for science.

Pub Date: Sept. 5th, 1991
ISBN: 0-525-93347-6
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1991