by George J Elbaum
The MIT Club of Wisconsin is a network of 670 alumni with the mission to enhance the value of the MIT degree, build community, and celebrate our shared experience. The Club is led by an active board headed by President Christie Lin, PhD (MIT Course 22, ’11, ‘12), and its activities serve MIT alumni, current students, and friends of the Club by providing behind-the-scenes industry tours, lectures on the latest research, and unique social events. The Club also serves as a resource for the local K-12 schools by providing a platform in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics).
Once a year, the Club responds to the annual EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) AirVenture at Oshkosh, a giant, week-long gathering of pilots and airplanes and aviation enthusiasts and spectators from around the world for spectacular demonstrations of aerial acrobatics, instructional lectures on aircraft home-building and maintenance, commercial exhibits, plus pavilions of aircraft manufacturers, home-built kits, aircraft parts, plus anything and everything connected with aviation. This year’s AirVenture 2019 welcomed a record 642,000 enthusiasts, 10,000+ aircraft and pilots, including 1057 homebuilts, 939 vintage airplanes, 400 warbirds, 105 seaplanes, and 62 aerobatic aircraft. A total of 1500 forums, workshops and presentations were held for the do-it-yourself community and attended by 75,000 people. My son Jordan joined me at AirVenture, the first time that either of us attended it, and both of us were very impressed with its huge scale and smooth operation.
For AirVenture 2019 the Club hosted a brunch, aviation speakers, and hands-on science and engineering activities, and I was invited to speak at the brunch. The Club’s invitation to members of the MIT Alumni Association described me as an “aviation junkie” (which, after a moment of reflection, I took as a compliment), so I shortened my presentation of my Holocaust childhood and added my adventures & misadventures in aviation, from surviving a near-collision, crashing an airplane, and years of hang gliding including a helicopter rescue after crashing. I especially enjoyed the interaction with the audience during the talk and afterwards.
The event was organized by Christie Lin, board member Mel Lucarelli, MD (MIT ‘90), with photography by Cynthia Lin (MIT ‘07, ‘15). As loyal alumni, Christie, Mel and Cynthia used the event very effectively to promote the Club, enroll 5 new members and conduct a raffle – no opportunity goes wasted 😊.