Build Week Builds Community (and Other Cool Things)

January 24, 2020

Forty students returned to campus one week early to participate in Olin’s first ever Build Week. Modeled after Build Days of Olin’s past, the Build Week “crew” of Riya Aggarwal ’22, Dieter Brehm ’22, Sam Daitzman ’22 and Victoria McDermott ’20, guided the enthusiastic group of students, and faculty and staff in a variety of campus betterment projects, reflections on Olin’s past, and discussions about its future.

The Build Week crew, aided by Susan Mihailidis, director of academic affairs and sponsored programs, and Jeff Goldenson, senior lecturer and special advisor for strategic initiatives, hoped to create an event that would empower everyone to have a voice and a role, as well as to encourage collaboration and focus on ideas and projects that make Olin a better place.

Click here for photos from Build Week.
A student with a blue and white Olin College sweatshirt smiles while talking with two other people.

Students share a laugh together in the Olin Library during Build Week 2020.

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The week-long format allowed for extensive exploration and development of those ideas. Participants worked on a dozen projects, including: painting a mural for the dining hall; fixing the dorm kitchens; creating a trail map for Parcel B; cleaning stockrooms and creating a marketplace; updating symbols of access logos; making a plan for community lottery lunches; troubleshooting and fixing the solar panels in the garden; designing and screen-printing Build Week t-shirts.

Mark Somerville, interim provost and dean of faculty and professor of electrical engineering, kicked off the week with a welcome and remarks about Olin’s past and the transformative effects the experience of building a college has had on the lives of Olin alumni. “The best education is one that’s about learning as you go,” said Somerville. “It’s about the idea that creating together and having that creation of value happening at the same time as the learning—having those two things be mutually reinforcing—that's the sweet spot. That’s what’s special about Olin.” For Somerville’s full remarks, click here.

Rob Martello, associate dean and professor of the history of science and tech, hosted a well-attended session titled: WODTODs (What Olin Does That Others Don’t). Martello, Somerville and other founding faculty and staff entertained students and colleagues with stories from Olin’s early days. One memorable story, captured on video, explains the origin story of Olin’s curriculum:

At the concluding celebration and report out, Sam thanked everyone for a great week, and called attention to the sense of community created by the Build Week participants. “We built things, but we also built community. We focused on taking care of ourselves and taking care of each other, and I’m really proud of everyone for devoting the time and care to that.”