Graduate Orientation activities start on Thursday, September 14 with iBegin@Caltech for international students, and run through Friday, September 22. All students are expected to attend Orientation events from Monday, September 18 to Friday, September 22.
All times are Pacific Daylight Time (PDT). Mandatory participation is indicated by an asterisk(*) and attendance will be tracked. Students unable to attend any mandatory sessions must contact the Graduate Studies Office.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 14 – SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 16
Required for all incoming international students. See the full schedule of events here.
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 18
Caltech's annual convocation ceremony offers a warm welcome and introduction to the Institute for new graduate students, new undergraduate students, and new postdoctoral scholars. The program includes greetings from President Thomas F. Rosenbaum, a brief introduction to student life at Caltech by Kevin M. Gilmartin, Vice President for Student Affairs, and a keynote address from Dr. Laurie Leshin, Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
At 9:45 AM, please line up on the south side of Beckman Lawn, so that all new graduate students can process into Beckman Auditorium at 10 AM sharp.
Each academic option will provide option-specific orientation programming for new graduate students.
All students receiving a stipend (assistantship or fellowship) are required to complete Employment Authorization (Form I-9). Please be sure to bring appropriate identification with you and allow up to 10-15 minutes wait time. Human Resources staff will be available to help you complete all of the forms necessary to receive your first paycheck and answer any questions you may have about direct deposit or tax forms.
Former Caltech instructor and research associate Jorge Cham creator of "PHD Comics" (phdcomics.com), a popular website about grad school and academia, returns to Caltech to help welcome new graduate students to Caltech with humor and perspective.
Jorge Cham is the Emmy-nominated and best-selling cartoonist creator of the popular online comic strip "Piled Higher and Deeper" (known as PHD Comics - phdcomics.com).
Often called the Dilbert of academia, PHD Comics has appeared in numerous newspapers and is published online where it's been read by millions of readers from over 1000 universities and colleges worldwide.
He is also the Executive Producer, Co-Creator and Creative Director of "Elinor Wonders Why," one of the highest-rated animated shows on PBS Kids, and the co-author of two popular science books: the best-selling and award-winning "We Have No Idea: A Guide to the Unknown Universe," and "Frequently Asked Questions about the Universe" (Riverhead Books). Jorge is also the co-host and co-creator of "Daniel and Jorge Explain the Universe" an ongoing popular podcast and radio show (iHeartRadio, 600,000 monthly downloads).
Jorge Cham was born and raised in the Republic of Panama. He obtained his B.S. from Georgia Tech and his M.S. and Ph.D. from Stanford University, specializing in Robotics. He was subsequently an Instructor and Research Associate at Caltech from 2003-2005, where his work focused on developing Smart Neural Implants. He travels and regularly presents all over the world to thousands of graduate students, researchers, faculty and administrators on his experiences.
Dean Chan and the Graduate Studies Office staff invite you to join us for an evening of good food, new friends, and fun. Not quite Vegas, but you'll have an opportunity to try your luck at our Caltech casino in Dabney Lounge. At the end of the night, turn in your winning chips for fantastic prizes!
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 19
Check in with the Graduate Studies Office, enjoy a breakfast bar including waffles and coffee, and pick up a highly coveted Caltech Graduate Studies Office swag bag!
David Chan, Harold and Violet Alvarez Professor of Biology and Dean of Graduate Studies, will offer words of welcome, and introduce you to the Graduate Studies staff and Orientation Guides as well as leaders from the Graduate Student Council (GSC). Several critical academic topics will be discussed including academic expectations and the Caltech Honor Code.
Dean Chan will moderate a panel of esteemed faculty members representing each of the six academic divisions at Caltech.
Viviana Gradinaru, Lois and Victor Troendle Professor of Neuroscience and Biological Engineering
Biology and Biological Engineering (BBE)
Brian M. Stoltz, Victor and Elizabeth Atkins Professor of Chemistry
Chemistry and Chemical Engineering (CCE)
John O. Dabiri, Centennial Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering
Engineering and Applied Science (EAS)
Heather A. Knutson, Professor of Planetary Science
Geological and Planetary Sciences (GPS)
Marina Agranov, Professor of Economics
The Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS)
Nicholas Hutzler, Assistant Professor of Physics
Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy (PMA)
After lunch you'll have the opportunity to meet with representatives from various Caltech offices to learn more about the programs and services they provide in support of the graduate student community. There will also be plenty of swag and other giveaways, so be sure visit as many tables as possible!
We've assembled several Caltech experts from across the Institute to provide more in-depth information regarding various aspects of the graduate student experience at Caltech:
- Research Integrity – presented by Grace Fisher-Adams, Chief Research Policy Officer
- Safety and Security – presented by Hampton Cantrell, Chief of Security and Parking Services
- Prioritizing Health & Wellness in Graduate School – presented by Dr. Lee Coleman, Senior Clinician, Coordinator of Groups and Outreach
- Diversity Matters – presented by Yazmin Gonzalez, Associate Director of the Caltech Center for Inclusion and Diversity (CCID)
- "Can I Get That Animal-Style?" – Everything You Need to Know About Living in SoCal! – presented by YOUR Fall 2023 Orientation Guides
You've heard a lot of information today! Join your assigned Orientation Guide for small group discussion about all things Caltech and hear their best advice for ensuring a smooth transition to graduate school.
Join us at historic Tournament Park for a Hawaiian-themed dinner, a shaved ice truck and a variety of outdoor yard games. This will be a great way to end the day of orientation activities while making new friends and enjoying the remainder of the summer sun.
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 20
The Teaching Conference is a required component of Graduate Orientation and fulfills your mandatory training should you ever be a TA at Caltech; it is also a valuable professional development activity whether you will formally teach at Caltech or not, as it addresses aspects of professional teaching, mentoring, and communication that are more broadly applicable. All incoming graduate students should plan to participate in all components of the Teaching Conference, including both the online pre-Conference module and the in-person Conference.
Sponsored by the Center for Teaching, Learning & Outreach (CTLO)
Handel's Homemade Ice Cream Truck is quickly becoming a grad student favorite at Caltech! Visit the truck for a cool, customized unforgettable treat!
To unwind from your full days of orientation, join the Graduate Student Council (GSC) on Wednesday night to explore some fantastic pubs/bars in Old Pas! We'll be walking ('crawling?!') to three pubs and treating you to one drink at each pub. Spouses/partners and non-incoming students are welcome; however, they will have to buy their own drinks. Keep your eyes peeled for the full pub schedule and link to RSVP in an email closer to the date!
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 21
Caltech fosters a safe and inclusive community to promote student success in and outside of the classroom. Join the Equity and Title IX Office to learn how Caltech is ready to support you during your graduate tenure. In our presentation we will discuss how we all can keep Caltech's campus culture welcoming and safe. We will also review your rights and obligations as graduate students at Caltech, discuss boundary setting and clear communication strategies, and make clear campus policies and resources related to discrimination, sexual misconduct and unlawful harassment. We want everyone at Caltech to feel they are understood, supported, and have full access to educational opportunities. This will allow everyone greater confidence in building healthy professional and personal relationships at Caltech and beyond. Please bring your smartphones to enable your full participation in polls and quiz questions!
Presented by Hima Vatti, Assistant Vice President Equity, Equity Investigations and Title IX Coordinator.
Master's students unite! All incoming students in a master's program at Caltech are invited to join the Graduate Studies staff for lunch and discussion. This will be an excellent opportunity to meet other master's students and build community across options.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 22
Visit some of the campus spaces you haven't gotten to see yet! Speak with representatives from various campus offices and collect helpful information and giveaways, don't forget to have your passport stamped by each area you visit.
Center for Student Services Building (CSS)
- Bursar's Office
1st floor, room 120
- Caltech Center for Inclusion and Diversity
2nd Floor, room 255
- Career Advising and Experiential Learning Center (CAEL)
3rd Floor, room 310
- Equity and Title IX Office
2nd Floor, room 205
- Hixon Writing Center
3rd Floor, room 360
- International Student Programs (ISP)
2nd Floor, room 250
- Registrar's Office
1st floor, room 125
- Undergraduate Deans' Office
2nd Floor, room 210
- Graduate Studies Office
2nd Floor, room 230
East campus (Hill St.)
- Office of Residential Experience
Big Yellow House - Corner of Del Mar & Hill
- Performing and Visual Arts
Music House, 305 South Hill Avenue
South end of campus
- Athletics, Recreation & Physical Education
Braun Gym Lobby
- Student Wellness Services
1239 Arden Road
West end of campus (Wilson St.)
- Caltech Y
505 S. Wilson
Caltech President Thomas F. Rosenbaum and Professor Katherine T. Faber invite all incoming graduate students to an outdoor dinner at their home.
For those who would like to walk over as a group, we invite you to meet the Orientation Guides (OG's) outside the Center for Student Services on Holliston at 5:25pm.
Caltech Library invites all new grad students to an outdoor screening of Pitch Perfect. Free snacks and drinks and small cushions for sitting will be provided!
Arriving at her new college, Beca (Anna Kendrick) finds herself not right for any clique but somehow is muscled into one that she never would have picked on her own: alongside mean girls, sweet girls and weird girls whose only thing in common is how good they sound when they sing together. When Beca leads this a cappella singing group out of their traditional arrangements and perfect harmonies into all-new mash-ups, they fight to climb their way to the top of college music competitions.
ADDITIONAL WELCOME EVENTS!!!
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 13
Opportunity for incoming and current grad students to experience and explore Athletics' facilities and discover all that they have to offer. There will be food, games, and fun for everyone.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 23
Arrive early for festivities, food, and merchandise outside the auditorium.
Artificial Intelligence propels discovery across scientific fields and drives progress in our digital and physical lives. But it also surfaces thorny economic, ethical, and safety questions.
At Caltech, researchers work at the leading edge of computation, data science, and machine learning, expanding the capabilities of AI while also examining its effects on society. Join Caltech for a public event that explores the science behind depictions of artificial intelligence in films such as The Terminator, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Matrix, and WALL-E.
Moderated by Latif Nasser, co-host of Radiolab, a panel of experts will use pop culture storytelling as a springboard to discuss the state of AI technology and where it is heading; whether we can trust AI; and how to protect against misinformation, bias, and other challenges. Audience members will have the opportunity to ask questions and engage with AI technology themselves.
This outdoor event will pit teams of graduate students against each other in thrilling battles to see who the best team is! We will be playing fun outdoor games (no prior experience necessary!) on Beckman Mall and then enjoying some well-earned food and drinks. It's a fun space to get to know your peers and upper year students! Keep your eyes peeled for more information and link to RSVP in an email closer to the date!
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 29
Join this annual celebration that includes great food, fireworks, a movie and dancing!
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 7
Join the Office of External Relations for a free screening of the film "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" which will be followed by a Q&A dealing with medical (and by extension all scientific) ethics led by Caltech Professor Michael Alvarez.