Momentum is an interdisciplinary design course (16.682) offered to first and second year undergraduate students during MIT’s Independent Activities Period (IAP). Momentum 2023 was held January 9th - February 3rd, 2023.
Please stay tuned for more information about our sponsor and challenges for Momentum 2024!
MOMENTUM 2023 sponsor and challenges were:
NASA Challenge Statement: Explore methods to decelerate a solar sail from transit speed upon arrival at Neptune & achieve attitude control with a lightweight & low power solution
Speed Challenge: How can we slow down a ScienceCraft (a solar sail with a 5-10 g/m2 areal density) upon reaching Neptune, either to make an orbiter or to increase the period of science observations in a flyby mission?
Attitude Control Challenge: What is the best way to achieve attitude control using lightweight and low power solutions?
Momentum is designed to prepare students for a future in the fields of science and engineering. Students are placed in teams and are challenged to use an engineering approach to solve a problem faced by the world today. Throughout the course students receive assistance with resume building, oral presentations, interviewing, and participate in a networking event with industry representatives. The course culminates with group presentations to a panel of industry representatives and is open to representatives of our IACME partners.
Students receive coursework during the first week of IAP, then in the remaining weeks they work in small teams to address the theme. In the past, themes have ranged from developing assistive technology to exploring the intersection of virtual reality and education! The course culminates with group presentations to industry representatives. Click here for a sample list of activities by week.
Momentum is, by design, an intense and profoundly rewarding experience. Furthermore, no prior knowledge of programming or engineering is expected or required to participate in Momentum.
During Momentum, students can expect to:
Receive 6 elective units of course credit
Obtain hands-on design experience
Gain experience working in a team
Solve a real-world issue and present their solution to a panel of industry judges
Receive feedback on their design and implementation from the Momentum teaching staff
Enhance their programming and engineering skills
Strengthen their transferable skills
Network with industry representatives
Have the opportunity to interview for potential summer internships available at IACME partner organizations
Momentum 2023 Highlights
Momentum 2022 Highlights
Momentum 2020 Highlights
Momentum 2019 Highlights
More videos from previous Momentum years are available in our Video Library.
Read More About Us
Check out this article on MIT News for more.
Design Reviews and Progress Reports
One key element of Momentum is that students have access to the expertise of the Momentum teaching staff. From TAs with a variety of backgrounds to the course instructor to visiting lecturers, students have a huge pool of knowledge to draw from. To best guide students, Momentum has two formal “check-ins” prior to the final competition. In these check-ins, termed design reviews and progress reports, students present their proposed solution to the Momentum teaching staff. Students indicate their current progress and proposed timeline, and voice any questions or concerns they have. The teaching staff helps guide the student projects by pointing out problem areas as well as complementing insightful solutions.
Poster Presentation and Competition Day
Momentum culminates with teams presenting their solutions to a panel of judges and to the general MIT community. It is a full day of activities which ends with a networking event where students interact with representatives from OME’s industry council, known as Industrial Advisory Council for Minority Education (IACME).
Quotes from Participants
“Momentum has made me realize that I am very excited about hands on work--the problem solving, design, and actual coding/EE work. I also have a better understanding of how I like to work--intensely and closely with a small group of teammates. Due to the plethora of opportunities we had to interact with industry representatives (interviews, etc.), I have a much better idea of what I would like to do in the future. I also am now applying to many positions this summer that I never would have thought to apply to! Overall, I would venture to say that Momentum has been a life changing experience. Thank you!”
"[TA] and [TA] were wonderful TAs! It was very obvious that they really cared about the topic and they always helped my team whenever we encountered an obstacle. They made sure that everyone on the team understood the task, helped us debug our code, and answered any other questions that we had. The GECD workshops were very helpful and insightful, I particularly enjoyed the public speaking workshop. It was very interesting to learn that small changes in posture or simply smiling can dramatically change the way information is delivered."
Momentum 2020 Overview
Capital One Project: Examine ways to engage unbanked and underbanked populations. Through an end-user focused approach, identify the reasons why these populations do not currently utilize the banking industry. The prototyped solution will aim to connect these populations in innovative ways with financial tools to empower their financial security.
General Motors Project: Focus on developing new mobility interfaces for GM's autonomous vehicles. Designs and prototypes will assist individuals with impaired hearing, vision, and other physical disabilities and focus on allowing these individuals to take full advantage of the autonomous vehicle experience.
Momentum 2019 Overview
In autonomous ride experiences of the future, design focus has shifted from driver to passenger. Momentum 2019 challenged students to design a transformational entry and egress experience for passengers of autonomous vehicles. Through a combination of user-centered design and quick prototyping methodologies, participants learned what it takes to identify a problem worth solving before prototyping on a real vehicle, a GM Chevy Bolt.
Momentum 2018 Overview
Virtual reality has the potential to reinvent the way we think about education! In 2018, Momentum challenged students to work at the forefront of this integrative educational frontier. Each student team produced a 10-minute educational demonstration for the Momentum competition that utilized the Windows Mixed Reality Headset (shown above) and Unity. Each solution was scored by a team of judges from industry and academia, and winners were declared in the following categories (in addition to one overall winner).
Momentum 2017 Overview
How does a person who has lost access to one or more of their senses navigate in an unfamiliar environment? How do they move without bumping into objects? How do they receive feedback from the world around them? This is the real-world scenario that the Momentum challenge simulated in 2017.