MIT Admissions

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Erick P. '17

Apr 23, 2015

History of the Brass Rat

Posted in: MIT Facts, Life & Culture

The Brass Rat, the MIT class ring. MIT students get theirs sophomore year and wear the beaver "sitting" on them until graduation. At Commencement, the ring is flipped over so that the beaver is sitting on the world. Legend has it that it is the third most recognized ring in the world, after the Superbowl Ring and the Pope Ring.

The tradition began in the spring of 1929 when senior class president C. Brigham Allen brought together a member from each of the Classes of 1930, 1931, and 1932 to design a ring that the Institute Committee would approve as the Standard Technology Ring. They couldn't decide whether to put the beaver or the Dome on the bezel of ring. The Committee looked to the original discussion over the mascot, calling upon the now-famous defense of the beaver by Lester Gardner, class of 1897.

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, hardworking, and, 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.

With that in mind, along with the fact that many other schools had buildings similar to our Great Dome, the Committee ultimately decided to honor our hard-working and industrious mascot on the ring, allowing the class of 1930 to proudly wear the first-ever Standard Technology Ring, lovingly referred to as the Brass Rat.

brass rat advertisement    

Since then, each class has appointed its own Ring Committee to uphold these time-honored traditions. The committee strives to design a ring that we, as students, can take pride in, and which will, upon graduation, unite us all as graduates of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

--

Serving on the 2017 Ring Committee, I spent a lot of time closely inspecting and growing a deep love for the uniqueness of each of the different Brass Rats. One of my favorite MIT Admissions blog posts is Matt McGann's "A bevy of Beautiful brass Rat bezels", published in 2006. After a quick history of the Brass Rat, Matt catalogs all of the bezels from '01 to '08. An updated version was published in 2008 that added the '00, '09, '10 bezels. He then updated it again in 2009 with the addition of the '11 Brass Rat, but not since. I'm updating his list here with the additions of the '12-'17 bezels and older bezels going all the way back to the original Standard Technology Ring.  


The Class of 2017 Brass Rat

brass rat 2017 bezelbrass rat 2017 ring


The Class of 2016 Brass Rat:

brass rat 2016 bezel  brass rat 2016 ring


The Class of 2015 Brass Rat:

brass rat 2015 bezel brass rat 2015 ring


The Class of 2014 Brass Rat:

brass rat 2014 bezel brass rat 2014 ring


The Class of 2013 Brass Rat:

brass rat 2013 bezel brass rat 2013 ring


The Class of 2012 Brass Rat:

brass rat 2012 bezel


The Class of 2011 Brass Rat:

brass rat 2011 bezel


The Class of 2010 Brass Rat:

brass rat 2010 bezel brass rat 2010 ring


The Class of 2009 Brass Rat:

brass rat 2009 bezel brass rat 2009 ring


The Class of 2008 Brass Rat:

brass rat 2008 bezel brass rat 2008 ring


The Class of 2007 Brass Rat:

brass rat 2007 bezel brass rat 2007 ring


The Class of 2006 Brass Rat:

brass rat 2006 bezel brass rat 2006 ring


The Class of 2005 Brass Rat:

brass rat 2005 bezel brass rat 2005 ring


The Class of 2004 Brass Rat:

 brass rat 2004 bezel


The Class of 2003 Brass Rat:

brass rat 2003 bezel brass rat 2003 ring


The Class of 2002 Brass Rat:

brass rat 2002 bezel brass rat 2002 ring


The Class of 2001 Brass Rat:

brass rat 2001 bezel brass rat 2001 ring


The Class of 2000 Brass Rat:

brass rat 200 bezel brass rat 2000 ring


The Class of 1998 Brass Rat:

brass rat 1998 ring


The Class of 1996 Brass Rat:

brass rat 1996 ring


The Class of 1994 Brass Rat:

brass rat 1994 ring


The Class of 1992 Brass Rat:

brass rat 1992 ring


The Class of 1990 Brass Rat:

brass rat 1990 ring


The Class of 1989 Brass Rat:

brass rat 1989 ring


The Class of 1988 Brass Rat:

brass rat 1988 ring


The Class of 1987 Brass Rat:

brass rat 1987 ring


The Class of 1986 Brass Rat:

brass rat 1986 ring


The Class of 1985 Brass Rat:

brass rat 1985 ring


The Class of 1984 Brass Rat:

brass rat 1984 ring


The Class of 1983 Brass Rat:

brass rat 1983 ring


The Class of 1982 Brass Rat:

brass rat 1982 ring


The Class of 1981 Brass Rat:

brass rat 1981 ring


The Class of 1980 Brass Rat:

brass rat 1980 ring


The Class of 1979 Brass Rat:

brass rat 1979 ring


The Class of 1978 Brass Rat:

brass rat 1978


The Class of 1977 Brass Rat:

brass rat 1977


The Class of 1970 Brass Rat:

brass rat 1970


The Class of 1963 Brass Rat:

brass rat 1963


The Class of 1950 Brass Rat:

brass rat 1950


The (Original) Class of 1930 Brass Rat:

brass rat 1930


*Photos are from the respective websites of the Ring Committees. Older Brass Rat photos are from webmuseum.mit.edu. If you're an alum and you have a Brass Rat that is missing a photo here, definitely send it to me, I'd love to add it and make this as complete a database as possible. Which Brass Rat is your favorite?

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