Family Weekend 2023

Families play giant jenga on the Oval.


Friday, October 27, 2023 - 12:30PM EST


Olin College of Engineering

Family Weekend is Friday, October 27 and Saturday, October 28, 2023 

Reunite and spend time with your student, meet Olin faculty, immerse yourself in an Olin class, watch student team demos, and hear from President Barabino. You can do all of that AND eat great food, enjoy a glass of wine and socialize with other Olin families.

Registration will begin at 12:30 pm on Friday, October 27 and programming will end around 3:00 pm on Saturday, October 28th, leaving time for families to enjoy New England fall activities off campus.

This event is free to attend, but we ask that you register in advance by midnight ET on Thursday, October 19. Register online HERE.

Please contact Vernell Clouden-Duval, Director of Constituent Relations, with any questions (

Friday, October 27  

12:30 – 5:00 p.m. – Check-in (Milas Hall entrance)

12:30 – 5:00 p.m. – Olin Merch sales (Milas Hall lobby)

12:30 – 7:00 p.m. – Lawn Games (Oval)

1:00 – 2:40 p.m. – Class Visits #1 (Miller Academic Center - MAC) 

  • Take a seat in a selection of Olin fall courses
    • Neurotechnology, Brains and Machines; Sam Michalka (MAC 304)
      • Neurotechnology falls in the intersection of engineering, data science, and neuroscience. This area involves work in how humans can use machines to understand how we think and how to make machines that can think. Advances in neurotechnology will likely lead to new treatments for brain disorders, repair and augmentation of our sensory and motor systems, and shifts in computation strategies. In this course, students will learn about cutting-edge technologies used to understand and emulate the brain, develop statistical data analysis skills to conduct and understand neurotechnology research, and discuss the cultural and ethical implications of these advances. Course work will involve analysis of data from neuroscience, reading and synthesizing articles from research journals, and project work.
    • Digital Photography: Seeing is Believing; Helen Donis-Keller (MAC 313)
      • This course is all about the communication of ideas and developing an independent creative voice in the visual arts using digital photography as the medium of choice. Fine art photography and documentary photography are the twin focus areas with individual expression fostered and doing good in the world using photography will be prioritized. Digital Photography: Seeing is Believing, will be a hands-on course taught in studio mode and will be project-based with weekly homework assignments that also includes several major projects allowing longer-term project engagement. Digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras, digital editing tools and printing capabilities are provided and gaining technical facility with these tools is an important goal. We will consider the many interpretations of fine art photography from traditional landscape work to conceptual art. A second equally important focus is how photography can be used to do good in the world, in particular, to call attention to climate change and what to do about it. The work of contemporary fine art photographers and documentary photographers will be studied in depth and trips to museum and gallery exhibits will be scheduled as appropriate as will field trips with the class to capture images in interesting locations. Students with no prior experience with photography are strongly encouraged to enroll in this course and are as welcome as those who have already discovered a passion for creative expression using photography.
    • Engineering for Humanity; Ela Ben-Ur & Caitrin Lynch (MAC 228)
      • This semester-long introductory course at Olin blends Anthropology and Design approaches. Students study topics around aging in society, while also working in design teams with one older adult in their community. We have chosen Aging as a ubiquitous and important focus; any human context can work. Over the semester, we will learn about and with our clients; we will identify specific challenges that our clients face; and together with our clients we will develop concrete solutions to address these challenges. Students will leave Engineering for Humanity with a grounded understanding of the engineering problem solving process, experience in participant-observer fieldwork, and hopefully a feeling of satisfaction at having made a concrete difference in the lives of members of our community. The projects will be specific service projects that students identify and design while working with senior citizens in surrounding communities.
    • A Computational Introduction to Robotics; Paul Ruvolo (MAC 126 - Due to space limits, this class can accommodate up to 8 visitors only.)
      • This course will provide a computationally-focused introduction to the field of robotics. Students will learn how to both select and design algorithms for solving interesting problems in robotic perception and control. Additionally, students will learn to successfully balance tradeoffs between accuracy of an algorithm and its computational efficiency in both space and time. The course will move from structured labs to more open-ended projects as the semester progresses. Specific content areas that the course may address are: computer vision, machine learning, reinforcement learning, path planning, mapping and localization.

2:50 – 4:30 p.m. – Class Visits #2 (Miller Academic Center - MAC) 

  • Take a seat in a selection of Olin fall courses
    • Computer Architecture; Avi Uttamchandani '10 (MAC 318)
      • This course introduces a broad range of computation structures used in computation, from logic gates to specialized (e.g. DSP, cellular automata) as well as general purpose architectures. Design techniques for quantitatively optimizing performance are also taught. Students build a computer from the ground up.
    • Biomes, Climate Change, and Biodiversity; Helen Donis-Keller (MAC 313)
      • Biology, by definition, is the study of life. In this course we will travel from the biosphere to the molecular level as we learn about how life works and the intersections between global warming and the resultant changes to climate that affect all organisms that inhabit planet Earth. Student experience will preference hands-on project-based learning including an experiential learning opportunity in the biology laboratory, in the kitchen laboratory learning how to prepare nutritious meatless meals, and there may be opportunities for fieldwork. There will be several student designed projects that encourage creativity and depth of understanding of topics of interest. Basic principles of genetics, evolution and molecular biology will form a framework for comprehensive understanding and from which biodiversity will be studied and biomes understood. Appreciation for the diversity and kinship of all living organisms is one important outcome and it also requires that all of us understand the obligation to stewardship of the earth through efforts to mitigate climate change and make room for wildlife. This course is for anyone interested in the sustainability of our planet from the perspective of biology. As such the course content is inextricably linked to topics such as environmental justice, agricultural practices, and human population growth. 
    • Identity from the Mind and the Brain: Who am I and How do I Know?; Jon Adler (MAC 417)
      • Perhaps the most fundamental question any developing individual asks himself/herself is: Who am I? The ways we answer this question have evolved over the course of history as the dominant ways of knowing (epistemologies) have shifted. Indeed, the question of how we come to know ourselves has captivated Western scholars since the days of Descartes, but a look at the last fifty to sixty years has also seen enormous changes. Many people invoke psychological and philosophical perspectives in describing their identity, focusing on their personality, their developmental history, and their place in society. But the explosion of neurobiological research has introduced a new and viable outlook: explaining identity at the chemical and electrical level of the brain. There is good reason to think that these different perspectives on identity are mutually exclusive and this tension will underlie everything we discuss in this interdisciplinary course. Indeed, when it comes to a topic as fundamental to human existence as identity, it is absolutely essential to wonder not only "who am I?" but to also ask "how do I know?" In this course, we will approach the question of identity from multiple perspectives, including psychology, postmodern philosophy, and neuroscience. In the process, we will critically examine not only the conception of identity that each perspective supports, but also the assumptions and limitations of each epistemology.

1:30 – 3:30 p.m. – SERV meal packing for Rise Against Hunger

  • Over the course of the weekend students, staff, faculty and parents will work together to weigh out and package meals to be shipped around the world to wherever they are needed. This will be a great opportunity to meet other members of the Olin community and do good together.

2:45 – 4:00 p.m. – Choose Your Own Adventure

  • Olin Shop Tours (MAC, 1st floor)
    • The Shop is an active learning environment charged with integrating the College’s fabrication resources within the curriculum in a more meaningful manner. The Shop’s mission is to empower all interested community members to use and master the tools of fabrication and prototyping through training and guidance.
  • Library Convos and Crafts (Milas Hall, Library)
  • Acronym (Milas Hall, lobby)
    • Acronym is a student-run pop-up coffee shop where students make free coffee and tea for students, faculty, and staff at Olin. Enjoy this special Family Weekend pop-up!

5:00 – 5:30 p.m. – Olin Conductorless Orchestra (OCO) performance (Milas Hall Mezzanine)  

  • The Olin Conductorless Orchestra (OCO) - an ensemble, minus conductor - features instrumentalists in leadership, communicative, and collaborative roles. Dedicated to orchestral performance in the concerted spirit of chamber music, the orchestra forges individual participation, active listening, and group-motivation into performances that have established it as the only conductorless orchestra composed of engineers - in the world!

5:30 – 7:00 p.m. – Family Weekend Cocktail Party with President Barabino (Oval Tent)

7:15 – 8:00 p.m. – Olin Fire Arts Club performance (Great Lawn)

Saturday, October 28  

9:30 – 11:30 p.m. – Registration (Milas Hall entrance)

9:30 – 10:30 p.m. – Continental Breakfast (Milas Hall lobby)

10:00 – 3:00 p.m. – Olin Merch sales (Milas Hall lobby)

10:00 – 11:45 a.m. – Choose Your Own Adventure 

  • Olin Shop Make & Take
  • Lawn games (Around the Oval)
  • Library Convos & Crafts (Milas Hall Library)
  • Student vehicle team showcase (Around the Oval)

12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. – Lunch (Dining Hall)

1:00 – 2:00 p.m. – Lightning Updates (Norden Auditorium, Milas Hall)

  • Staff, faculty and the PLC will share what’s new and notable at Olin.

2:00 – 3:00 p.m. – SERV meal packing for Rise Against Hunger

  • Over the course of the weekend students, staff, faculty and parents will work together to weigh out and package meals to be shipped around the world to wherever they are needed. This will be a great opportunity to meet other members of the Olin community and do good together.

3:00 – 3:30 p.m. – Depart campus 

Register online HERE by midnight ET on Thursday, October 29, 2023.

Room Blocks

Book by: September 27, 2023

200 First Avenue, Needham, MA 02494

phone +1 781-455-9987

Link to book:

Book by: September 26, 2023

100 Cabot Street Needham, Massachusetts 02494

Link to book: Book your group rate for Olin College Family Weekend Room Block