ESP Biography

ALAN ZHU, MIT senior studying Writing and CS

Major: 21W, 6-3

College/Employer: MIT

Year of Graduation: 2023

Picture of Alan Zhu

Brief Biographical Sketch:

I am trying to teach classes for every program that ESP offers, but all in the Miscellaneous category. Fortunately, my interests offer me plenty of content in that regard: they include writing, mathematics, computer science, music, airports, trivia, high-speed rail, making new plans for the future, subway systems, singing and playing random showtunes, reading about international politics, consuming fruit, belting the song “Country Roads,” real pianos, complaining about biology, Supreme Court cases, talking about South Dakota, et. al.

Past Classes

  (Clicking a class title will bring you to the course's section of the corresponding course catalog)

X15554: 2.97 Seconds Per Pokemon !? in Spark 2023 (Mar. 18 - 19, 2023)
Join us as we attempt to name all 1008 Pokemon in 50 minutes! The website we will be using is

X14515: Something, Definitely in Spark 2021 (Mar. 13 - 27, 2021)
(Not to be confused with "Anything, Probably", and "Nothing, Possibly.") Think "cheese platter", but imagine instead of different types of cheese, you have different kinds of knowledge. The class will consist of short (3-5 min.) and hopefully fun introductions to curated, meaningless topics which are definitely something. For example, if you asked someone on the street "what do you know about South Dakota?", they'd probably tell you, "well, it's definitely a state" and probably not much else. Other example topics include the MBTA, highway numbering systems, neutrinos, and Pokémon Rumble. Sign up to find out what else we'll talk about!

X14330: Streets! in Splash 2020 (Nov. 14 - 15, 2020)
Streets! What are they? Well, hopefully you have some idea of what a street is, but perhaps you want to know more about highways systems, the Manual on Unified Traffic Control Devices, or just big/long streets around the world. If so, look no further than this class.

X14088: Did We Start the Fire? History from 1949-1989 as Told by Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start The Fire" in HSSP Summer 2020 (Jul. 11, 2020)
Ever wanted to learn the history of the world from 1949 to 1989 but never had any idea how? Well, fortunately, in "We Didn't Start the Fire", Billy Joel meticulously lists every important event which occurred during those four decades [citation needed]. In this class, we'll go through each and every reference made by Billy Joel in a song that he notoriously called "like a dentist's drill," and hopefully learn something about history along the way.

X13239: Everything You Never Wanted to Know About South Dakota in Splash 2019 (Nov. 23 - 24, 2019)
Ever wanted to know anything about the 46th most populous state in the Union? No? Well, too bad, because, in this class, you'll be able to learn everything (and we mean everything!) about the godforsaken land known as South Dakota. Taught by two South Dakotans, this class will discuss topics as strange and varied as cows, The World's Only Corn Palace (TM), Mount Rushmore, and why is our state is better than North Dakota.

X13317: A Brief History of in rem Cases in the United States in Splash 2019 (Nov. 23 - 24, 2019)
Have you ever heard of the Supreme Court case "United States v. Forty Barrels & Twenty Kegs of Coca-Cola"? How about "United States v. One Book Called Ulysses"? In rem jurisdiction refers to when a court exercises power over an object, instead of a person or other entity. This can lead to some relatively ridiculous outcomes—what are they? Find out in this class!