MIT class ring

Massachusetts Institute of Technology's class ring, often called the "Brass Rat", is crafted each year by a student committee. The class ring has three main sections: the bezel, containing MIT's mascot, the beaver, the MIT seal (seal shank), and the class year (class shank). The side surfaces show the Boston and Cambridge skylines. A campus map and the student's name are engraved on the inner surface. The phrase "Brass Rat" is derived from the resemblance of the gold beaver to a rat. Among other reasons, the beaver was chosen as mascot (and therefore for the front bezel of the ring) because he is considered to be the engineer of the animal world. [cite web|title=Shiny new beaver mascot has debut|publisher=MIT News Office|date=2000-05-10|url= | accessdate = 2006-12-29]

The MIT class ring is large, conspicuous, and recognizable from a distance. Class of 1975 president William Wang said that there are "three recognizable rings in the world—the Brass Rat, the West Point ring, and the Super Bowl ring." [cite web|title=Class of 1975 finds homes in business or remote Thai village|author=Wright, Sarah H. | publisher=MIT News Office|date=2000-06-07 | accessdate=2006-05-30 | url=]


The Brass Rat is traditionally worn with the Beaver "sitting" or "shitting" on the wearer until graduation. This represents the hardships imposed on students at MIT. In addition, the skyline of Boston is facing the student, representing the outside world awaiting. After graduation, the ring is turned around, and the Cambridge skyline is visible to the graduate, as a reminder of times spent at MIT.

The undergraduate ring is designed and presented in the year of each class. The design is unveiled during the Ring Premiere, which is followed weeks later by the Ring Delivery. The latter is a tradition since 1999 (Class of 2001), and is typically a formal occasion. Ring Delivery has been held on a harbor cruise, at prestigious restaurants, and at the Boston Public Library (Class of 2008). Most recently, the Ring Delivery was held at the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse in downtown Boston (Class of 2010). Although parts of the ring change each year, there is typically the MIT seal on one shank of the ring, and a depiction of the Dome on the other side. The 2008 Brass Rat was the first in recent years to revert to the original style of the ring, placing the seal and Dome above the "MIT" and "08" respectively.

Grad Rat

[ 2005] Grad Rat] The Graduate Student ring, or "Grad Rat", is redesigned every 5 years. Unlike the undergraduate ring, the [ Grad Rat] is personalized according to the department in which the graduate student resides and the degree to be received (i.e., Ph.D, Sc.D, S.M., etc.). The Grad Rat has typically been less popular among graduate students at MIT than the Brass Rat is with undergraduates, with as few as 30% of graduate students opting to buy the ring compared with 85% of undergraduates who purchase the Brass Rat. [cite web | url = | title = Grad Rat Proves Popular | accessdate = 2006-12-28] However, in recent years the Grad Rat has been gaining in popularity among graduate students. Factors contributing to the increasing popularity of the Grad Rat include the aforementioned personalization, increased visibility and marketing, and perhaps most importantly the ability to change these personalizations (including major, graduation year, and degree) free of charge.


The ring was first proposed in 1929 and labeled the "Standard Technology Ring". [cite web | url = | title = Ring History ('93 class webpage) | work [] | accessdate = 2006-12-26]

Bezel_(1930)Image:1930MITRingShank.jpg|Shank_(1930)Image:Brass_Rat_Advertisment_1933.jpg|Advertisement_(1933)In the Spring of 1929, C. Brigham Allen, President of the class of 1929, appointed a ring committee consisting of one member of each of the classes of 1930, 1931, and 1932. The committee was headed by Theodore A. Riehl, and its sole purpose was to provide a ring which the Institute Committee would approve as the Standard Technology Ring. In October the committee submitted its first detailed report to the Institute Committee and requested a decision as to whether the Institute Dome or the Beaver should be used on the face of the ring. This precipitated a vigorous discussion concerning the exact status of the Beaver as the Institute mascot. Investigation showed that, on January 17, 1914, President MacLaurin formally accepted the Beaver as the mascot of the Institute at the annual dinner of the Technology Club of N.Y. Lester Gardner '97 explained the decision: "We first thought of the kangaroo which, like Tech, goes forward in leaps and bounds. Then we considered the elephant. He is wise, patient, strong, hard working, like all who graduate from Tech, has a good hide. But neither of these were American animals. We turned to Mr. Hornady's book on the animals of North America and instantly chose the beaver. The beaver not only typifies the Tech (student), but his habits are peculiarly our own. The beaver is noted for his engineering, mechanical skills, and industry. His habits are nocturnal. He does his best work in the dark." There was no record of any action having been taken by the Institute Committee so that the body went on record as approving the Beaver for the official mascot of Technology. Opinion was still divided on the question of Dome versus Beaver, but with the realization that many schools had domes somewhere similar to Technology's, the Institute Committee decided to use the Beaver on the face of the ring. The Dome lent itself particularly well to use on the shanks.

Since that time, subsequent classes have appointed a Ring Committee to design their own MIT ring. The goal of these committees has been to create a ring that keeps the design that is unmistakably the MIT ring, yet introduce changes that will allow that ring to always be identified with their class. This tradition has developed throughout the years producing one of the most cherished symbols of an MIT education that is recognized worldwide.


The ring is offered in several sizes, in various gold purities: 10, 14 or 18 carat (42%, 58% or 75% gold alloy) as well as white gold and Celestrium (jeweler's steel). The Celestrium ring is often called the "Stainless Steel Rat," a joking reference to the series of novels by Harry Harrison, or "Tin Rat" by older alumniFact|date=February 2007. A typical ring: medium size, 14 carat gold, would cost US$403 in 2006 (class of 2008 ring). In recent years the dn|Balfour company has been the exclusive manufacturer of the Brass Rat, although several other companies have made the ring through an annual competitive bidding and design process. [cite web | url = | title = List of ring manufacturers by year | work = [] | accessdate = 2006-12-29] The ring is manufactured through a lost-wax casting process.


The Brass Rat has many invariant central themes (such as the Beaver, and the class year) as well as new themes added over the years, such as the IHTFP motto.Each year then adds to the design numerous hidden jokes and references to experiences shared by the class of that year.The map on the inside of the ring is typically a map of the MIT campus.

Brass Rat elsewhere

*A giant Brass Rat was manufactured to fit a cannon from Caltech's Fleming House, which was appropriated in an MIT hack in 2006-04-06.
*In May 1979, a Brass Rat was welded to the finger of the John Harvard statue in Harvard University. [cite web | url = | title = Hack brings Yard Plate to campus | work = [ The Tech] | date = 1990-09-14 | accessdate = 2006-12-31]

In Film

*"Stir Crazy": Grossberger (played by Erland Van Lidth De Jeude) [cite web | url = | title = Clip of Grossberger wearing Brass Rat from "Stir Crazy" | work = [] ]
*"Iron Man": Lieutenant Colonel James "Rhodey" Rhodes (played by Terrence Howard) and Tony Stark (played by [Robert Downey Jr.] ) [cite web | url = | title = MIT admissions article on Iron Man with production stills | work = [ MIT Admissions] ]

ee also

*Class ring
*MIT hack

External links

* [ MIT poetry mentioning the ring]
* [ Replacing an MIT class ring]


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