The Edgerton Center turns 20
  • Professor Kim Vandiver talks with students at the 2010 Engineering Design Workshop funded, in part, by NASA
    Professor Kim Vandiver talks with students at the 2010 Engineering Design Workshop funded, in part, by NASA
    Ed Moriarty
  • D-Lab founder and senior lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering Amy Smith in the classroom
    D-Lab founder and senior lecturer in mechanical engineering Amy Smith in the classroom
Monday, September 17, 2012

In August, the Edgerton Center celebrated 20 years of hands-on learning. The center was founded in 1992 to carry on the legacy of Professor Harold “Doc” Edgerton, an innovator and a beloved teacher who encouraged students to try out their ideas. Professor J. Kim Vandiver, who helped found the center, reflects on the impact the Edgerton Center has had over the past 20 years.

Q. How is the legacy of Doc Edgerton made visible today in the MIT Edgerton Center?

A. Harold “Doc” Edgerton died in 1990. His family and I wanted the new Edgerton Center to carry on Doc’s legacy — not only to highlight his many contributions to high-speed photography, but to continue to support future generations of MIT students in "Learning by Doing."

Doc began Strobe Alley (in the fourth floor of Building 4) by hanging up pictures on the wall — his and everyone else’s. Today, we have Strobe Alley with interactive displays that highlight engineering and scientific principles, Doc’s equipment and fascinating high-speed photos.

As a graduate student in the spring of 1972, I asked Doc if I could take 6.163 (Strobe Project Lab) because I really wanted to learn how to do high-speed photography. The course was the beginning of a really long and wonderful friendship. We still teach Strobe Project Lab, a course that enables MIT students to get involved in high-speed photography. And every year in June we teach a short course for professionals in high-speed photography that Doc began long before I was his teaching assistant in 1972. Read more on MIT News