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MIT n : an engineering university in Cambridge [syn: Massachusetts Institute of Technology]

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Extensive Definition

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a private university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. MIT has five schools and one college, containing 32 academic departments, with a strong emphasis on scientific and technological research. MIT is one of two private land-grant universities and is also a sea grant and space grant university.
MIT was founded by William Barton Rogers in 1861 in response to the increasing industrialization of the United States. Although based upon German and French polytechnic models of an institute of technology, MIT's founding philosophy of "learning by doing" made it an early pioneer in the use of laboratory instruction, undergraduate research, and progressive architectural styles. As a federally funded research and development center during World War II, MIT scientists developed defense-related technologies that would later become integral to computers, radar, and inertial guidance. After the war, MIT's reputation expanded beyond its core competencies in science and engineering into the social sciences including economics, linguistics, political science, and management.
MIT's endowment and annual research expenditures are among the largest of any American university. MIT graduates and faculty are noted for their technical acumen (72 affiliated Nobel Laureates, 47 National Medal of Science recipients, and 29 MacArthur Fellows), entrepreneurial spirit (a 1997 report claimed that the aggregated revenues of companies founded by MIT affiliates would make it the twenty-fourth largest economy in the world), and irreverence (the popular practice of constructing elaborate pranks, or hacking, often has anti-authoritarian overtones).


Initial years and vision

In 1861, The Commonwealth of Massachusetts approved a charter for the incorporation of the "Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Boston Society of Natural History" submitted by William Barton Rogers. Rogers sought to establish a new form of higher education to address the challenges posed by rapid advances in science and technology during the mid-19th century with which classic institutions were ill-prepared to deal. The Rogers Plan, as it came to be known, was rooted in three principles: the educational value of useful knowledge, the necessity of “learning by doing”, and integrating a professional and liberal arts education at the undergraduate level.
Because open conflict in the Civil War broke out only a few months later, MIT's first classes were held in rented space at the Mercantile Building in downtown Boston in 1865. Construction of the first MIT buildings was completed in Boston's Back Bay in 1866 and MIT would be known as "Boston Tech." During the next half-century, the focus of the science and engineering curriculum drifted towards vocational concerns instead of theoretical programs. Charles William Eliot, the president of Harvard University, repeatedly attempted to merge MIT with Harvard's Lawrence Scientific School over his 30-year tenure: overtures were made as early as 1869 with other proposals in 1900 and 1914 ultimately being defeated.


The attempted mergers occurred in parallel with MIT's continued expansion beyond the classroom and laboratory space permitted by its Boston campus. President Richard Maclaurin sought to move the campus to a new location when he took office in 1909. An anonymous donor, later revealed to be George Eastman, donated the funds to build a new campus along a mile-long tract of swamp and industrial land on the Cambridge side of the Charles River. In 1916, MIT moved into its handsome new neoclassical campus designed by the noted architect William W. Bosworth which it occupies to this date. The new campus triggered some changes in the stagnating undergraduate curriculum, but in the 1930s President Karl Taylor Compton and Vice-President (effectively Provost) Vannevar Bush drastically reformed the curriculum by re-emphasizing the importance of "pure" sciences like physics and chemistry and reducing the work required in shops and drafting. Despite the difficulties of the Great Depression, the reforms "renewed confidence in the ability of the Institute to develop leadership in science as well as in engineering." The expansion and reforms thus cemented MIT's academic reputation on the eve of World War II by attracting scientists and researchers who would later make significant contributions in the Radiation Laboratory, Instrumentation Laboratory, and other defense-related research programs.
MIT was drastically changed by its involvement in military research during World War II. Bush was appointed head of the enormous Office of Scientific Research and Development and directed funding to only a select group of universities, including MIT. During the war and in the post-war years, this government-sponsored research contributed to a fantastic growth in the size of the Institute's research staff and physical plant as well as placing an increased emphasis on graduate education.
As the Cold War and Space Race intensified and concerns about the technology gap between the U.S. and the Soviet Union grew more pervasive throughout the 1950s and 1960s, MIT's involvement in the military-industrial complex was a source of pride on campus. However, by the late 1960s and early 1970s, intense protests by student and faculty activists (an era now known as "the troubles") against the Vietnam War and MIT's defense research required that the MIT administration to divest itself from what would become the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory and move all classified research off-campus to the Lincoln Laboratory facility.

Challenges and controversies

MIT has been nominally coeducational since admitting Ellen Swallow Richards in 1870. (Richards also became the first female member of MIT's faculty, specializing in sanitary chemistry.) Female students, however, remained a very small minority (numbered in dozens) prior to the completion of the first wing of a women's dormitory, McCormick Hall, in 1963. By 1993, 32% of MIT's undergraduates were female and in 2006, the number had increased to near-parity (47.5%).
A 1998 MIT study concluded that a systemic bias against female faculty existed in its college of science, although the study's methods were controversial. A 2003 MIT news release cites various statistics suggesting that the status of women improved during the latter years of President Vest's tenure. Susan Hockfield, a molecular neurobiologist, became MIT's 16th president on December 6, 2004 and is the first woman to hold the post. While the student body has become more balanced in recent years, women are still a distinct minority among faculty.
The 1984 dismissal of David F. Noble, a historian of technology, became a cause celebre about the extent to which academics are granted "freedom of speech" after he published several books and papers critical of MIT's and other research universities' reliance upon financial support from corporations and the military.
In 1986, Professor David Baltimore, a Nobel Laureate, became embroiled in an investigation of research misconduct that led to Congressional hearings in 1991.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, many American politicians and business leaders accused MIT and other universities of contributing to a declining economy by transferring taxpayer-funded research and technology to international — especially Japanese — firms that were competing with struggling American businesses.
In 1991, the Justice Department filed an antitrust suit against MIT and the eight Ivy League colleges for holding "Overlap Meetings" to prevent bidding wars over promising students from consuming funds for need-based scholarships. While the Ivy League institutions settled, MIT contested the charges on the grounds that the practice was not anticompetitive because it ensured the availability of aid for the greatest number of students. MIT ultimately prevailed when the Justice Department dropped the case in 1994.
In 2000, Professor Ted Postol accused the MIT administration of attempting to whitewash potential research misconduct at the Lincoln Lab facility involving a ballistic missile defense test, though a final investigation into the matter has not been completed.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, a number of student deaths resulted in considerable media attention to MIT's culture and student life. After the alcohol-related death of Scott Krueger in September 1997 as a new member at the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, MIT began requiring all freshmen to live in the dormitory system. The 2000 suicide of MIT undergraduate Elizabeth Shin drew attention to suicides at MIT and created a controversy over whether MIT had an unusually high suicide rate. In late 2001 a task force's recommended improvements in student mental health services were implemented, including expanding staff and operating hours at the mental health center. These and later cases were significant as well because they sought to prove the negligence and liability of university administrators in loco parentis.
In 2006-2007, MIT's denial of tenure to African-American biological engineering professor James Sherley prompted accusations of racism in MIT's tenure process, eventually leading to a protracted public dispute with the administration, a brief hunger strike, and the resignation of Professor Frank L. Douglas in protest.
In April 2007, Dean of Admissions Marilee Jones resigned after she "misrepresented her academic degrees" when she applied to an administrative assistant position in 1979 and never corrected the record despite her subsequent promotions.


See also Labs and Centers and Departments
MIT is "a university polarized around science, engineering, and the arts." MIT has five schools (Science, Engineering, Architecture and Planning, Management, and Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences) and one college (Whitaker College of Health Sciences and Technology), but no schools of law or medicine.
MIT is governed by a 78-member board of trustees known as the MIT Corporation which approve the budget, degrees, and faculty appointments as well as electing the President. MIT's endowment and other financial assets are managed through a subsidiary MIT Investment Management Company (MITIMCo). The chair of each of MIT's 32 academic departments reports to the dean of that department's school, who in turn reports to the Provost under the President. However, faculty committees assert substantial control over many areas of MIT's curriculum, research, student life, and administrative affairs.
MIT students refer to both their majors and classes using numbers alone. Majors are numbered in the approximate order of when the department was founded; for example, Civil and Environmental Engineering is Course I, while Nuclear Science & Engineering is Course XXII. Students majoring in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, the most popular department, collectively identify themselves as "Course VI." MIT students use a combination of the department's course number and the number assigned to the class to identify their subjects; the course which many American universities would designate as "Physics 101" is, at MIT, simply "8.01."


MIT's Cambridge campus spans approximately a mile of the north side of the Charles River basin. The campus is divided roughly in half by Massachusetts Avenue, with most dormitories and student life facilities to the west and most academic buildings to the east. The bridge closest to MIT is the Harvard Bridge, which is marked off in the fanciful unit – the Smoot. The Kendall MBTA Red Line station is located on the far northeastern edge of the campus in Kendall Square. The Cambridge neighborhoods surrounding MIT are a mixture of high tech companies occupying both modern office and rehabilitated industrial buildings as well as socio-economically diverse residential neighborhoods.
MIT buildings all have a number (or a number and a letter) designation and most have a name as well. Typically, academic and office buildings are referred to only by number while residence halls are referred to by name. The organization of building numbers roughly corresponds to the order in which the buildings were built and their location relative (north, west, and east) to the original, center cluster of Maclaurin buildings. Many are connected above ground as well as through an extensive network of underground tunnels, providing protection from the Cambridge weather. MIT also owns commercial real estate and research facilities throughout Cambridge and the greater Boston area.
MIT's on-campus nuclear reactor is the second largest university-based nuclear reactor in the United States. The high visibility of the reactor's containment building in a densely populated area has occasionally caused controversy, but MIT maintains that it is well-secured. Other notable campus facilities include a pressurized wind tunnel, a towing tank for testing ship and ocean structure designs, and a low-emission cogeneration plant that serves most of the campus electricity and heating requirements. MIT's campus-wide wireless network was completed in the fall of 2005 and consists of nearly 3,000 access points covering of campus.


| 6.3% || 1.8% || 12.1% |- ! Asian American | 26.4% || 11.7% || 4.3% |- ! Hispanic American | 11.6% || 2.9% || 14.5% |- ! Native American | 1.3% || 0.3% || 0.9% |- ! International student | 9.2% || 39.3% || (N/A) |}
MIT enrolls more graduate students (approximately 6,000 in total) than undergraduates (approximately 4,000). In 2006, women constituted 44 percent of all undergraduates and 30 percent of graduate students. The same year, MIT students represented all 50 states, the District of Columbia, three U.S. Territories, and 113 foreign countries.
The admissions rate for freshmen in 2007 was 11.9% with over 69% of admitted freshmen choosing to enroll. Although graduate admissions are less centralized, they are similarly selective: 19.7% of 16,153 applications were admitted with 61.2% of admitted candidates enrolling.
Undergraduate tuition is $33,400 and graduate tuition is $33,600 per year although 64% of undergraduates receive need-based financial aid and 87% of graduate students are supported by MIT fellowships, research assistantships, or teaching assistantships.


MIT has an extensive core curriculum required of all undergraduates called the General Institute Requirements (GIRs). The science requirement, generally completed during freshman year as prerequisites for classes in science and engineering majors, comprises two semesters of physics classes covering Classical Mechanics and E&M, two semesters of math covering single variable calculus and multivariable calculus, one semester of chemistry, and one semester of biology. Undergraduates are required to take a laboratory class in their major, eight Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (HASS) classes (at least three in a concentration and another four unrelated subjects), and non-varsity athletes must also take four physical education classes. In May 2006, a faculty task force recommended that the current GIR system be simplified with changes to the science, HASS, and Institute Lab requirements.
Although the difficulty of MIT coursework has been characterized as "drinking from a fire hose," the failure rate and freshmen retention rate at MIT are similar to other large research universities. Some of the pressure for first-year undergraduates is lessened by the existence of the "pass/no-record" grading system. In the first (fall) term, freshmen transcripts only report if a class was passed while no external record exists if a class was not passed. In the second (spring) term, passing grades (ABC) appear on the transcript while non-passing grades are again rendered "no-record."
Most classes rely upon a combination of faculty led lectures, graduate student led recitations, weekly problem sets (p-sets), and tests to teach material, though alternative curricula exist, e.g. Experimental Study Group, Concourse, and Terrascope. Over time, students compile "bibles," collections of problem set and examination questions and answers used as references for later students. In 1970, the then-Dean of Institute Relations, Benson R. Snyder, published The Hidden Curriculum, arguing that unwritten regulations, like the implicit curricula of the bibles, are often counterproductive; they fool professors into believing that their teaching is effective and students into believing they have learned the material.


MIT historically pioneered research collaborations between industry and government. Fruitful collaborations with industrialists like Alfred P. Sloan and Thomas Alva Edison led President Compton to establish an Office of Corporate Relations and an Industrial Liaison Program in the 1930s and 1940s that now allows over 600 companies to license research and consult with MIT faculty and researchers. As several MIT leaders served as Presidential scientific advisers since 1940, MIT established a Washington Office in 1991 to continue to lobby for research funding and national science policy.
MIT's proximity to Harvard University has created both a quasi-friendly rivalry ("the other school up the river") as well as a substantial number of research collaborations such as the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, Broad Institute, Center for Ultracold Atoms, and Harvard-MIT Data Center. In addition, students at the two schools can cross-register without any additional fees, for credits toward their own school's degrees.
MIT has a long-standing cross-registration program with Wellesley College as well as an undergraduate exchange program with the University of Cambridge known as the Cambridge-MIT Institute. MIT has limited cross-registration programs with Boston University, Brandeis University, Tufts University, Massachusetts College of Art, and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. MIT Portugal Program, and MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI) program. The planned European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) is modelled on MIT.
MIT students, faculty, and staff are involved in over 50 educational outreach and public service programs through the MIT Museum, Edgerton Center, and MIT Public Service Center. Summer programs like MITES and the Research Science Institute encourage minority and high school students to pursue science and engineering in college. Project Interphase accelerates incoming freshman whose educational backgrounds did not fully prepare them for MIT coursework.
The mass-market magazine Technology Review is published by MIT through a subsidiary company, as is a special edition that also serves as the Institute's official alumni magazine. The MIT Press is a major university press, publishing over 200 books and 40 journals annually emphasizing science and technology as well as arts, architecture, new media, current events, and social issues.


In the 2008 US News and World Report (USNWR) rankings of national universities, MIT's undergraduate program was #7. The MIT Sloan School of Management is ranked #2 in the nation at the undergraduate level and #4 among MBA programs by USNWR's 2008 rankings. MIT has more top-ranked graduate programs than any other university in the 2008 USNWR survey and the School of Engineering has been ranked first among graduate and undergraduate programs since the magazine first released the results of its survey in 1988.
Among other outlets in the world university rankings, MIT is ranked #1 in the Globe by Webometrics, #1 in technology, #2 in citation, #4 overall, #5 in natural science, and #11 in social science among world universities by the THES - QS World University Rankings, in the top tier of national research universities by TheCenter for Measuring University Performance, #5 among world universities by Shanghai Jiao Tong University's 2006 Annual Rankings of World Universities, and #1 by The Washington Monthly's rankings of social mobility and national service in 2005 and 2006. The National Research Council, in a 1995 study ranking research universities in the US, ranked MIT #1 in "reputation" and #4 in "citations and faculty awards."

Faculty and research

MIT has 998 faculty members, of whom 188 are women and 165 are minorities. Faculty are responsible for lecturing classes, advising both graduate and undergraduate students, and sitting on academic committees, as well as conducting original research. Many faculty members also have founded companies, serve as scientific advisers, or sit on the Board of Directors for corporations. 25 MIT faculty members have won the Nobel Prize. Among current and former faculty members, there are 51 National Medal of Science and Technology recipients, Faculty members who have made extraordinary contributions to their research field as well as the MIT community are granted appointments as Institute Professors for the remainder of their tenures.
For fiscal year 2006, MIT spent $587.5 million on on-campus research. The federal government was the largest source of sponsored research, with the Department of Health and Human Services granting $180.6 million, Department of Defense $86 million, Department of Energy $69.9 million, National Science Foundation $66.7 million, and NASA $32.1 million.

Research accomplishments

In electronics, magnetic core memory, radar, single electron transistors, and inertial guidance controls were invented or substantially developed by MIT researchers. Harold Eugene Edgerton was a pioneer in high speed photography. Claude E. Shannon developed much of modern information theory and discovered the application of Boolean logic to digital circuit design theory.
In the domain of computer science, MIT faculty and researchers made fundamental contributions to cybernetics, artificial intelligence, computer languages, machine learning, robotics, and public-key cryptography. Richard Stallman founded the GNU Project while at the AI lab (now CSAIL). Professors Hal Abelson and Gerald Jay Sussman wrote the popular Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs textbook and co-founded the Free Software Foundation with Stallman. Tim Berners-Lee established the W3C at MIT in 1994. David D. Clark made fundamental contributions in developing the Internet. Popular technologies like X Window System, Kerberos, Zephyr, and Hesiod were created for Project Athena in the 1980s. MIT was one of the original collaborators in the development of the Multics operating system, a highly secure predecessor of UNIX.
MIT physicists have been instrumental in describing subatomic and quantum phenomena like elementary particles, electroweak force, Bose-Einstein condensates, superconductivity, fractional quantum Hall effect, and asymptotic freedom as well as cosmological phenomena like cosmic inflation.
MIT chemists have discovered number syntheses like metathesis, stereoselective oxidation reactions, synthetic self-replicating molecules, and CFC-ozone reactions. Penicillin and Vitamin A were also first synthesized at MIT.
MIT biologists have been recognized for their discoveries and advances in RNA, protein synthesis, apoptosis, gene splicing and introns, antibody diversity, reverse transcriptase, oncogenes, phage resistance, and neurophysiology. MIT researchers discovered the genetic bases for Lou Gehrig's disease and Huntington's disease. Eric Lander was one of the principal leaders of the Human Genome Project.
MIT economists have contributed to the fields of system dynamics, financial engineering, neo-classical growth models, and welfare economics and developed fundamental financial models like the Modigliani-Miller theorem and Black-Scholes equation.
Professors Noam Chomsky and Morris Halle are both noted linguists, Professor Henry Jenkins is prominent in the field of media studies, Professor John Harbison has won a Pulitzer Prize and MacArthur Fellowship for his operatic scores, and former professor Marcia McNutt is one of the world's most influential ocean scientists.


In 1969, MIT began the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) to enable undergraduates to collaborate directly with faculty members and researchers. The program, founded by Margaret MacVicar, builds upon the MIT philosophy of "learning by doing." Students obtain research projects, colloquially called "UROPs," through postings on the UROP website or by contacting faculty members directly. Over 2,800 undergraduates, 70% of the student body, participate every year for academic credit, pay, or on a volunteer basis. Students often become published, file patent applications, and/or launch start-up companies based upon their experience in UROPs.

Current initiatives

In 2001, MIT announced that it planned to put all of its course materials online as part of its OpenCourseWare project by 2007. Building upon MIT's leadership in the free software movement, Nicholas Negroponte of the MIT Media Lab started the One Laptop per Child initiative to expand computer education and connectivity to children worldwide. Upon taking office in 2004, President Hockfield launched an Energy Research Council to investigate how MIT can respond to the interdisciplinary challenges of increasing global energy consumption.

Traditions and student activities

MIT faculty and students highly value meritocracy and technical proficiency. MIT has never awarded an honorary degree nor does it award athletic scholarships, ad eundem degrees, or Latin honors upon graduation. It does, on rare occasions, award honorary professorships; Winston Churchill was so honored in 1949 and Salman Rushdie in 1993.
MIT students' passion for their subjects is balanced by the perception that their classes are more rigorous than their "grade inflated" peer institutions— a love-hate relationship embodied by the school's informal motto/initialism IHTFP ("I hate this fucking place," jocularly euphemized as "I have truly found paradise," "Institute has the finest professors," etc.).
Many MIT students and graduates wear a large, heavy, distinctive class ring known as the "Brass Rat." Originally created in 1929, the ring's official name is the "Standard Technology Ring." The undergraduate ring design (a separate graduate student version exists, as well) varies slightly from year to year to reflect the unique character of the MIT experience for that class, but always features a three-piece design, with the MIT seal and the class year each appearing on a separate face, flanking a large rectangular bezel bearing an image of a beaver.


main article Student activities at MIT see also MIT hacks MIT has over 380 recognized student activity groups, including a campus radio station, The Tech student newspaper, the "world's largest open-shelf collection of science fiction" in English, model railroad club, a vibrant folk dance scene, weekly screenings of popular films by the Lecture Series Committee, and an annual entrepreneurship competition.
MIT's Independent Activities Period is a four-week long "term" offering hundreds of optional classes, lectures, demonstrations, and other activities throughout the month of January between the Fall and Spring semesters. Some of the most popular recurring IAP activities are the 6.270, 6.370, and MasLab competitions, the annual "mystery hunt", and Charm School.
Many MIT students also engage in "hacking," which encompasses both the physical exploration of areas that are generally off-limits (such as rooftops and steam tunnels), as well as elaborate practical jokes. Recent hacks have included the theft of Caltech's cannon, reconstructing a Wright Flyer atop the Great Dome, and adorning the John Harvard statue with the Master Chief's Spartan Helmet.


MIT's student athletics program offers 41 varsity-level sports, the largest program in the nation. They participate in the NCAA's Division III, the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference, the New England Football Conference, and NCAA's Division I and Eastern Association of Rowing Colleges (EARC) for crew. They fielded several dominant intercollegiate Tiddlywinks teams through 1980, winning national and world championships. MIT teams have won or placed highly in national championships in pistol, track and field, swimming and diving, cross country, crew, fencing, and water polo. MIT has produced 128 Academic All-Americans, the third largest membership in the country for any division and the highest number of members for Division III.
The Institute's sports teams are called the Engineers, their mascot since 1914 being a beaver, "nature's engineer." Lester Gardner, a member of the Class of 1898, provided the following justification:
The Zesiger sports and fitness center (Z-Center) which opened in 2002, significantly expanded the capacity and quality of MIT's athletics, physical education, and recreation offerings to 10 buildings and 26 acres of playing fields. The facility features an Olympic-class swimming pool, international-scale squash courts, and a two-story fitness center.


main article Housing at MIT MIT guarantees four-year, dormitory housing for all undergraduates and provides live-in graduate student tutors and faculty housemasters who have the dual role of both helping students and monitoring them for medical or mental health problems. Students are permitted to select their dorm and floor upon arrival on campus, and as a result diverse communities arise in living groups; the dorms on and east of Massachusetts Avenue are stereotypically more involved in countercultural activities. MIT also has six graduate student dormitories, which house about one-third of the graduate student population.
MIT has a very active Greek and co-op system. Approximately one-half of MIT male undergraduates and one-third of female undergraduates are affiliated with one of MIT's 36 fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups (FSILGs). Most FSILGs are located across the river in the Back Bay owing to MIT's historic location there, but there are also a few fraternities in MIT's West Campus and in Cambridge. Since 2002, all freshmen are required to live in the dormitory system for the first year before moving into an FSILG.

Noted alumni

Many of MIT's over 110,000 alumni and alumnae have had considerable success in scientific research, public service, education, and business. 27 MIT alumni have won the Nobel Prize and 37 have been selected as Rhodes Scholars.
Alumni currently in American politics and public service include Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke, New Hampshire Senator John E. Sununu, U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman, MA-1 Representative John Olver, CA-13 Representative Pete Stark. MIT alumni in international politics include British Foreign Minister David Miliband, former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, former Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Chalabi, and former Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu.
MIT alumni founded or co-founded many notable companies, such as Intel, McDonnell Douglas, Texas Instruments, 3Com, Qualcomm, Bose, Raytheon, Koch Industries, Rockwell International, Genentech, and Campbell Soup.
MIT alumni have also led other prominent institutions of higher education, including the University of California system, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, Carnegie Mellon University, Tufts University, Rochester Institute of Technology, Northeastern University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Tecnológico de Monterrey, and Purdue University. Although not alumni, former Provost Robert A. Brown is President of Boston University, former Provost Mark Wrighton is Chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis, and former Professor David Baltimore was President of Caltech.
More than one third of the United States' manned spaceflights have included MIT-educated astronauts, among them Buzz Aldrin (Sc. D XVI '63), more than any university excluding the United States service academies.

Pop Culture


In the movie Good Will Hunting, a janitor at MIT (Will Hunting played by Matt Damon) is caught solving a very complex mathmatical formula posted on a blackboard. The MIT professor (Prof Lambeau) tracks Will down and discovers that he is a mathematical genius with personal problems, and takes him to his old college roommate (Sean), now a psychologist, played by Robin Williams. In the movie, Professor Lambeau is stated to have won a Fields Medal, a very high honour in mathematics. In reality, only two MIT professors have been awarded Fields Medals - Jesse Douglas in the inaugural year 1936 and Daniel G. Quillen in 1978. (ref: When the movie Good Will Hunting won the academy award for Best Screenplay, the Green Building was lighted in the form of the Oscar statuette (ref: There is one potential error in the movie: Professor Lambeau studied mathematics at MIT, which is realistic, but his roommate Sean studied psychology. While it is possible to have a concentration or minor in the field of psychology at MIT, it is not a major field of study.
Other movies have mistakenly given characters MIT ties that are not possible. Both Iron Man's Tony Stark played by Robert Downey Jr. and Contact's Eleanor Arroway played by Jodie Foster are supposed to have graduated "Cum Laude" from MIT, although MIT does not offer Latin honours. However, in Iron Man, Tony Stark's best friend Col. James 'Rhodey' Rhodes played by Terrence Howard correctly shows his affiliation with MIT by wearing the Brass Rat, the MIT class ring. In a close up shot, the ring has been identified by MIT students as indicating that the wearer graduated in 1987 (ref:
Characters in other movies have had "honorary degrees" from MIT although it does not and has never awarded honorary degrees.


The character Mike Cannon played by James Lesure in the NBC TV show Las Vegas is supposed to have two degrees from MIT.


Further reading

''See the bibliography maintained by MIT's Institute Archives & Special Collections
  • The Cold War and American Science: The Military-Industrial-Academic Complex at MIT and Stanford
  • Imagining MIT: Designing a Campus for the Twenty-First Century
  • The Hidden Curriculum
  • Nightwork: A History of Hacks and Pranks at MIT
  • Mind and Hand: The Birth of MIT
  • When M.I.T. Was "Boston Tech", 1861-1916
  • Designing MIT: Bosworth's New Tech
  • MIT Campus Planning,: An Annotated Chronology

External links


  • [ Official List of Campus Media at MIT]
  • MIT OpenCourseWare - Free online publication of nearly all MIT course materials
  • The Tech - student newspaper, the world's first newspaper on the web
  • Tech Talk - MIT's official newspaper
  • Technology Review - mass market technology and alumni magazine
  • MIT Press - university press & publisher
  • MIT World - video streams of public lectures and symposia
  • [ VooDoo] - MIT's Journal of Humour since 1919
  • Counterpoint - MIT/Wellesley journal
  • Tech Engineering News, journal from 1921-1976
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