MIT Makes a Splash at AAAS

The MIT Press collaborated with MIT Open Learning, MIT Technology Review, and the Knowledge Futures Group to amplify the MIT presence at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Washington, DC on February 14–17 in Washington, DC.

MIT is no stranger to the AAAS meeting—our faculty and students are often on-hand to present and the MIT Press has previously had a booth in the exhibit hall—but this partnership brought greater visibility and focus to our efforts. Located in a prominent spot of the exhibit hall, our expanded booth received steady foot traffic from MIT students, alumni, faculty, and fans throughout the meeting who were delighted to find their “home” at the conference. The MIT booth was particularly popular with students from the American Junior Academy of Science who were eager to share their research projects and to learn more about MIT.

Daily activities included picking up free copies of the Tech Review; entering raffles to win a book bag filled with books related to the Moon Landing, a seat in MIT xPRO's Quantum Computing course, or a seat in any MOOC from MIT Open Learning; learning about the Knowledge Futures Group’s open access publishing platforms; or signing up to be part of the Tech Review’s Global Panel.

The collaboration was the brainchild of Press director Amy Brand who saw an opportunity to capitalize on the strengths of MIT and to celebrate our collective commitment to science communication and interdisciplinary excellence.

“AAAS is an exhilarating meeting where one might jump from a conversation about genetics or climate change to a discussion of quantum computing or chemical engineering in the span of minutes,” explains Brand. “Our partners are each, in their way, ambassadors for this crosspollination of ideas, science, and technology. Whether we are publishing books and magazines, producing new open access publishing platforms, or transforming teaching and learning with digital technologies, we are advancing MIT’s mission to the world.”

Sanjay Sarma, vice president of MIT Open Learning, sees synergy in the mission of AAAS and his group’s efforts to create partnerships that develop new learning capabilities and extend MIT's knowledge and classrooms to the world. “The tagline for AAAS is ‘Science Transcending Boundaries,’ which really resonates with the work we do at Open Learning to remove educational barriers across the globe through digital technology,” says Sarma. “Our team was inspired by the researchers, communicators, and learners they met at the event, and they look forward to returning next year.”

Bob Millard, chair of the MIT Corporation, speaks at the MIT Reception at AAAS in Washington, DC on February 15, 2019

The highlight of the expanded MIT presence was a reception held on Friday night at the OMNI Shoreham Hotel at which Bob Millard, chair of the MIT Corporation, shared a few words of praise for AAAS and MIT’s mutual commitment to furthering knowledge and creating innovative technologies to improve the world. Also on-hand to celebrate were former MIT president Susan Hockfield, members of the Washington, DC Alumni Club, and MIT Press authors.

“It was wonderful to see the MIT community come together under the umbrella of our shared understanding of what MIT represents and what we offer to the world,” says Bob Prior, executive editor at the MIT Press and emcee for the evening. “Bringing together these diverse audiences of alumni, writers, and researchers created opportunities for surprising connections and robust conversations.”

Indeed, conversation and goodwill flowed easily among the crowd who lingered late into the night before departing with a small gift from the MIT Press—a copy of Science not Silence or a selection from the Essential Knowledge Series.