ESP Biography



MICHELE PRATUSEVICH, MIT sophomore directing Splash!




Major: 6-3

College/Employer: MIT

Year of Graduation: 2013

Picture of Michele Pratusevich

Brief Biographical Sketch:

I grew up in the suburbs of New York City with Russian as my first language (even though I was born in the USA). Throughout high school I challenged myself with lots and lots of puzzles and games, so I enjoy a challenge any time. I dabbled in many hobbies, including ballroom dance, tennis, classical guitar, card tricks, jigsaw puzzles, programming, recreational mathematics, set theory, and many more. I haven't settled on a hobby yet and like to try new things. Throughout high school I spent time volunteering for the local ambulance youth corps. My interests lie in applied mathematics, statistics, optimization, and modeling problems. I enjoy cooking and spending time with my younger sister. Here at MIT I am involved with MIT-EMS and the MIT Education Studies Program. Oh, and the axiom of choice is true.



Past Classes

  (Look at the class archive for more.)


Programmimg with Microcontrollers: The Basics of Arduino in Spark! 2013 (Mar. 16, 2013)
Microcontrollers are small computers that can be used to control hardware like LEDs, motors, latches, and much more. They are smaller than a "computer" like the one you use for writing papers and making presentations, but they are still capable of making exciting machines. In this class, we'll talk about the basics of microcontroller programming using the Arduino microcontroller as a mechanism for learning these concepts. Come ready to play with motors, LEDs, wires, and some programming! If you already know how to program using Arduinos (and have done it before) then you will find this class boring. Knowing some programming will be helpful, but not required - it will just make my breezing over the "structure of programming" make less sense.


Computer Vision in an Hour in Spark! 2013 (Mar. 16, 2013)
Computer vision is a field that tries to build systems that can "see" much like our brains can. In this class we'll talk about some interesting results from the field and relate them to the vision systems in our brain. We'll talk about what the "important" information is in an image, what some big questions are in the field, and why some seemingly simple questions are hard to answer. I'll try to cover a little bit about how some basic algorithms work as well.


Spectrometry: Seeing What Light is REALLY made of! in Spark! 2013 (Mar. 16, 2013)
In this class we'll talk about what light is really made of. We'll build spectrometers (for less than $2 each!) to analyze different kinds of light and talk about the differences. We'll use our spectrometers for identification and talk about why we care.


Structural Engineering Disasters in Splash! 2012 (Nov. 17 - 18, 2012)
In this class, we'll explore (and test!) how and who and what led to the destruction of several well known structures such as the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. The focus will be on structural engineering, and on the 'de-engineering' nature did to destroy these man-made projects. Come prepared to break things. The Tacoma Narrows Bridge Disaster: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHgQALH9-7M&


Programmimg with Microcontrollers: The Basics of Arduino in Splash! 2012 (Nov. 17 - 18, 2012)
Microcontrollers are small computers that can be used to control hardware like LEDs, motors, latches, and much more. They are smaller than a "computer" like the one you use for writing papers and making presentations, but they are still capable of making exciting machines. In this class, we'll talk about the basics of microcontroller programming using the Arduino microcontroller as a mechanism for learning these concepts. Come ready to play with motors, LEDs, wires, and some programming!


From zero to infinity .... and beyond! in Splash! 2012 (Nov. 17 - 18, 2012)
Learn what numbers really are. In this class, we will start with nothing (literally nothing) and construct (sometimes rigorously, sometimes not) the natural numbers $$\mathbb{N}$$, the rationals $$\mathbb{Q}$$, the reals $$\mathbb{R}$$, and multiple types of infinity (for those of you nerds out there, $$\aleph_0, 2^{\aleph_0}$$). But we won't stop there.... then we'll use these infinities to do more interesting math!! This class will draw on principles of set theory, analysis, logic, and combinatorics to walk through some of the most taken-for-granted mathematical properties of the universe.


Computer Vision in an Hour in Splash! 2012 (Nov. 17 - 18, 2012)
Computer vision is a field that tries to build systems that can "see" much like our brains can. In this class we'll talk about some interesting results from the field and relate them to the vision systems in our brain. We'll talk about what the "important" information is in an image, what some big questions are in the field, and why some seemingly simple questions are hard to answer. We'll talk about why color is cool and why image blending is making the field of computer vision challenging.


Mission Impossible: The MIT/UMBC Spark/Splash Collaborative in Spark! 2012 (Mar. 10, 2012)
MISSION OBJECTIVE: Join forces with UMBC's Splash to save the lives of your daring companions and complete your mission. The year is 3012, and you are the team of FedEx spaceworkers aboard one of the largest FedEx delivery ships in the universe. But, an unexpected problem has arisen during delivery and now you are struggling for survival in deep space. Now you must step up to the task and complete your delivery. Successful deliveries will earn you the materials necessary to repair your ship and return home. ARE YOU UP FOR THE TASK?!?! You will be communicating with students from UMBC's Splash (quite similar to MIT's Spark) to complete your objectives. This class will be run simultaneously with a class at UMBC, so you will be doing these communication exercises in real time!


Spaghetti Bridges! in Spark! 2012 (Mar. 10, 2012)
Put your engineering skills to the test with angel hair pasta and crazy glue! We will build bridges in teams to hold the most weight when spanned across about 10 inches of space. Each team will be given a limited number of supplies, including pasta and glue to build their bridges! Before building, we will talk about some basic physics that governs some design principles behind bridge-building, so that your bridges are as strong as they can be!


History and Evolution of the Bicycle in Spark! 2012 (Mar. 10, 2012)
Learn about the history of bicycle engineering. We'll talk about take apart the innards of a bike: we'll repack bearings, respoke wheels, break and re-form chains, etc. Towards the end of the class, we will also talk about cool new bike materials and technologies like bamboo and carbon fiber frames, in addition to some cool do-it-yourself bikes. Come learn to appreciate the amount of engineering that went into designing a bicycle.


Face Detection Demystified in Splash! 2011 (Nov. 19 - 20, 2011)
When you take pictures with your digital camera, do you ever wonder why a square pops up around a face on the screen? We'll talk about why in this class! We will build up an intuition about why the concept of face detection works, then explain the face detection technique in greater detail.


Make Your Own Jigsaw Puzzle! in Splash! 2011 (Nov. 19 - 20, 2011)
Like solving jigsaw puzzles? Have your own ideas for jigsaw puzzle patterns? Want to make a custom jigsaw puzzle? Here's your chance! Come up with a pattern or simple picture you want on your jigsaw puzzle and come ready to draw it!


Comparative Film: Old and New Hollywood in Splash! 2011 (Nov. 19 - 20, 2011)
There was a transition in the Hollywood culture around the 1960s with the decline of the studio system. The new styles of Hollywood led to more films of unique genres with European film influences. In this class we'll explore the differences between the New and Old Hollywoods in terms of genre, themes, and styles. Hopefully you'll come out of this class with a new appreciation for film and with many new film recommendations!


Mathemagic! in HSSP Summer 2011 (Jul. 10, 2011)
Like puzzles but hate math in school? Think math has cool applications but don't know what they are? Come find out about recreational mathematics - fun topics that require no higher math knowledge (nothing more complicated than exponents. If we can get away without logarithms, we won't use them). Each class will cover a particular topic with a couple of applications from that topic. Topics taught in this class will be taken from Martin Gardner's <b>The Colossal Book of Mathematics</b>.


Ultra-light Spaghetti Bridges! in Spark! 2011 (Mar. 12, 2011)
Want to put your engineering skills to the test? Then come build bridges out of spaghetti! Three different thicknesses of pasta will be provided with as much hot glue as you want. There will be a competition to see who can make the lightest bridge to hold 1 kg of weight. Depending on the wants of the class, we can change up the competition to something more exciting.


Bessie's Cow-path Walk in Spark! 2011 (Mar. 12, 2011)
Bessie is a near-sighted cow who wants to get to a pasture placed somewhere randomly along a path. We will go over the best algorithm to solve this problem, how it is relevant to other problems in computer science, competitive analysis, and runtime analysis. We will briefly cover randomized algorithms and do some cool drawing of cows.


Sort Yourselves in Splash! 2010 (Nov. 20 - 21, 2010)
The modern world is all about data - data in databases, data in lists, data in Google, data on your computer. But with all this data, we have to know how to use it. One of most fundamental ways to use data is to sort it. This class will explore various sorting algorithms - we'll even sort in $$O(n)$$ time! Impossible you say? Well, I say you're wrong.


AP Chemistry: Section 2 in Delve 2011-2012 (Sep. 18, 2011)
AP Chemistry


From zero to infinity .... and beyond! in HSSP Spring 2010 (Apr. 17, 2010)
Learn what numbers really are. In this class, we will start with nothing (literally nothing) and construct (sometimes rigorously, sometimes not) the natural numbers $$\mathbb{N}$$, the rationals $$\mathbb{Q}$$, the reals $$\mathbb{R}$$, and multiple types of infinity (for those of you nerds out there, $$\aleph_0, 2^{\aleph}$$). But we won't stop there.... then we'll use these infinities to do more interesting math!! This class will draw on principles of set theory, analysis, logic, and combinatorics to walk through some of the most taken-for-granted mathematical properties of the universe.


How To Make a Jigsaw Puzzle in Splash! 2009 (Nov. 21 - 22, 2009)
Do you like to solve jigsaw puzzles? Or do you just like to make impossible puzzles for others to solve? In both cases, I'll show you how to make your own jigsaw puzzle using very simple materials. Challenge your friends with your new puzzle; make it as easy or as diabolical as you like!


Become a LaTeXer! in Splash! 2009 (Nov. 21 - 22, 2009)
Want to learn how to use LaTeX to format your mathematical formulae like this: $$\sum_{n = 1}^{\infty}\frac{1}{n^2} = \frac{\pi^2}{6}$$? Want to make your English teachers think you're crazy for having your papers formatted nicely in scientific form? Come learn the basics of LaTeX, the standard mathematical typesetting language. Works on any platform. We provide the computers. But we'll tell you how to install it on your own computers. Although we'll provide example mathematics to typeset, you'll probably get more out of the class if you bring your own mathematics to typeset (e.g. notes or homework from your math class). If you want to use your laptop instead, you should install MiKTeX and TeXnicCenter (either together from http://www.tug.org/protext/, or separately from http://miktex.org/2.8/setup and http://www.texniccenter.org/resources/downloads/29), or another LaTeX editor (if you don't use windows) before you arrive; the installation of MiKTeX can take about half an hour to an hour.


Puzzles Puzzles Puzzles! in Splash! 2009 (Nov. 21 - 22, 2009)
Hundreds of puzzles. Hundreds of challenges. Logic bends itself to solve such problems. Come for the logic, the puzzles, the mind-boggling solutions, and the mental ticking that comes with thinking too much. You will be bombarded with oodles and oodles of puzzles. And we will talk about how to solve them. Bring your own puzzles: there may be time to share at the end!


Comparative Film: Old and New Hollywood in DELVE (2011)
There was a transition in the Hollywood culture around the 1960s with the decline of the studio system. The new ...