Feb 9, 2009
The 2011 Brass Rat!
Posted in: Life & Culture
Blogging the Ring Premiere is a big deal. Like, really, it's a big deal.
Look at the application that Snively used to determine which sophomore blogger will get to blog Ring Premiere!
So I must admit, I didn't know that blogging the Ring Premiere has become, and I here quote, from JKim.
The Brass Rat is a long-standing MIT tradition that has given rise to MIT Admissions' own, relatively young tradition: blogging Ring Premiere! And so, after three beautiful years of Ring Premiere blog entries, I'm proud to be blogging the debut of this year's Brass Rat to the rest of the world. (I kind of do feel like this is sort of a blogging rite of passage, actually. I remember reading Melis's ring premiere entry as a prefrosh and wanting one like Sam wants Ina Garten.)
Wow, way to be clueless about this whole blogging-thingy, Chris Su.
Upon realizing the monumental task that's upon me, I took to myself to study all the assigned reading (ie. the myriad blog entries regarding Ring Premiere in the past - please scroll down to the end of the entry for a complete listing), and I am proud to present this year's Ring Premiere to you in words, pictures, and video! :)
Just keep reading~
Even from the morning of February 6, 2009, you know that something's up in the air. :)
The night began with great anticipation. :)
(after a line that stretched all the way across the main courtyard in front of Kresge Auditorium, being scrutinized by the door "security guards" (in reality members of the Class of 2012) that we are in fact, members of 2011, and obtaining a raffle ticket (more on that later!) with our student ID)
Someone (it turns out to be the esteemed Matt McGann) once said, you really only see your complete class in three occasions: 1) Frosh Orientation Picture, 2) Ring Premiere, and 3) Graduation (maybe 4) Ring Delivery). On Friday night, I peered out at the sea of faces and realized what a magical job it is to be the Admission Officer of MIT - to be able to hand out the Golden Ticket of MIT to every. single. person. present. Wow. :)
Presenting: Ringcomm! An interesting thing to note is that we have 13 people on the Committee, rather than the 12 from last year, the Class of 2010. For more information on this matter, please visit Snively's extensive coverage on this matter. 'Nuff said.
The first presentation is the Hacker's Map, the engraving of the MIT Map on the inside of the ring. The biggest addition to the Map this year (2010's was pretty standard and 2009's had Building 6 blocked off due to construction) is Building 76 a new building in construction between the Stata Center and the Biology Building. The Building began construction during our time here at MIT...
(which caused great inconvenience passing between Stata and the Bio Building (I ate lunch on the lawn next to the Bio building during Freshman Orientation, when the food trucks were still close to the Bio building instead all the way at Kendall! Sadly, the lawn is nonexistent now, due to construction.))
...and is scheduled to complete December 2010, before we graduate. :)
The two sides of the bezel are inscribed with the Cambridge and Boston skylines, respectively, and usually there's small tweaks to the basic design (2010 added the Hood Blimp, fireworks over Fenway, crew and sailboats on the Charles River). We emphasized Ashdown House (to commemorate the establishment of Phoenix Group, the first group that will move into the new Ashdown), Student Center (to emphasize the various student groups present on campus), and Stata Center (for the unique architecture? =p).
I think the really cool thing, though, is that we spelled out "2011" on the Green Building lights (the Green Building has turned into a convenient location for hacks, due to the symmetrical alignment of the building lights and the easy visibility from Boston). Also, we modified the sailboats on the river to spell '11. :)
The other thing that I had always really liked is the contrast between day and night on the Cambridge and Boston skylines. The Cambridge skyline is presented at night, to point out the fact that we're primarily nocturnal, while the Boston skyline is depicted at day because we're looking towards the "bright dawn" of the future. hee =D
Despite all the controversy over the ring in the past, the Class of 2011 opted for a neutral design, incorporating the traditional seal along with part of the CERN logo at the bottom (to commemorate the Large Hadron Collider), and MIT spelled out in "nuts and bolts" at the bottom (with the screws tightened to reflect '11!)
Finally, our class shank features Athena, the goddess of wisdom but more importantly, our unique operating system at MIT (seriously, I'm still figuring out how to use Athena command prompts...>"<), surrounded by laurels and the two-sided owl (both symbols of Athena) at the bottom.
Perhaps the most notable part (and again, one of my favorite parts of this Brass Rat!) of the class shank are the three hackers on top of the dome, as a celebration of the MIT hacking culture but perhaps also to reflect all the controversy that hacking has generated at MIT in these few years. Either way, I think it's awesome that we give credit for these engineers that truly "do their best work at night."
Then, finally...it was the moment that we've all been waiting for. The main bezel. Since the excitement is just too much to contain, I'll let the video tell you the full story. :D
What can I say, pretty nice, eh? :)
To be really honest, I had no "OMG WTHBBQ IS THIS RING?!" until I saw Anna's Burrito. (I mean, the first standing beaver (before the other random things started appearing) wasn't THAT bad, right?) It was truly the Burrito when I FINALLY realized the cat was out of the bag. lol.
In case you missed it, these were the meaning of the highlights in the Fake Bezel:
Construction: The amount of construction at MIT is seriously alarming. Building 76 aside, it seems like there's ALWAYS a staircase (that I'm trying to use) under construction, or there's a sidewalk in need of fixing, or there's an angry policeman trying to guide you through a detour....etc.
8.01 Clicker: LOL MAD PROPS. This is actually something that I would really like to have on the ring. Come on, 2006 had it on their seal shank!
For those that are just tuning in, the 8.01 and 8.02 (introductory freshman physics) classes utilize clickers, which are used to track attendance and also used supposably as a method of gauging student understanding in a real-time fashion during class. But there has also been a lot of complaints about the mandatory clicker (which costs near $30) and its use in tracking responses (if you want the "clicker points" of the grade - about 5% of the total course grade in both 8.01 and 8.02 - you'll have to show up to class and stay sufficiently awake during class to click a response in when the clicker questions (strategically positioned in lecture at the point when the student is the most drowsy) pop up during lecture).
Thus, the 8.01 clicker is usually the symbol of the love-hate relationship (mostly hate - perhaps 1% of love) with TEAL.
Guy Fawkes: Remember, remember, the Fifth of November...
Anna's Super Burrito: the most convenient source of tooling sustenance, followed by bouts of drowsiness and flatulence. (note to self: I really want to run a nutritional analysis on their steak super burritos, or, for that matter, their quesadillas...)
Charlie the Unicorn: During Frosh Orientation, and he's just very awesome, in his own right.
Kresge Auditorium: is 1/8 of a perfect sphere.
It's actually rather funny how the "fake bezel" had that little speech "build-up" in the beginning, while we're confronted with our actual Beaver right after the fake bezel without too much warning. =p
But ahh, what a pleasant sight it is to behold the familiar beaver (as much as we love the Charlie the Unicorn, I don't want to have to explain to my grandson what Candy Mountain is 50 years down the road...)
Unlike any other Brass Rat before, our beaver is sitting on the Harvard Bridge, linking Boston (with one building shaped like a memristor) and Cambridge (the panoramic on the Wikipedia page is a pretty apt description of what the bezel is like - check out the "Naming Legend" on that page while you're at it). The bridge is the our entryway to the outside world, the bane of our existence in the winter months (when you just missed Saferide), and the vital link between campus and the many fraternities, sororities, and living groups that lie on the other side. The bridge is dotted with MIT symbols (the logo in the railing of the bridge and the Smoot markings (celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Smoot, which occurred in October 2008, and the 150th anniversary of MIT's establishment)).
Our beaver has his hands quite full of items - the globe symbolizes our diverse roots, but all working together to achieve the final goal - the diploma at the end of our 4 years here. In addition, the scale symbolizes not only the well-balanced nature of our class, but also the delicate equilibrium between "punting" and "tooling," which defines every student at MIT.
What I found to be pretty surprising (and also quite innovative) is the sapling on top of the scale, designed to reflect the MIT initiatives on sustainability and energy at MIT. Which is a very, very, popular topic here at MIT in recent years. Going a little bit further, one can easily tie it in with the numerous international development initiatives also present here. Kudos for incorporating such a dynamic topic here at MIT into the ring!
The 12 by 12 hatches on the beaver's tail represent us as MIT's 144th graduating class, and finally, the MIT beaver crushes eight Ivy Leaves "with the weight of MIT's accomplishments," with the spade symbolizing the MIT Blackjack Team, the movie 21, our Freshman Orientation theme, and also Harvard, since they pretend to be the big boss of academia. ;)
Finally finally, (I thought this was a nice touch) - the Longfellow and Zakim (noted for its unique shape - it's the triangular one) bridges in the background with the Red Line train running on the Longfellow!
Next thing to look forward to - Ring Delivery, which would occur on May 8, 2009.
(after the sophomores see their ring design in February, the bulk order requires the the complete delivery of rings to happen a few months later, usually in April/May. Although the RingComm members get their Brass Rats in time for Ring Premiere and get to wear them for 3 extra months before we do!)
Either Snively or Paul will be documenting that event, so stay tuned!
(didn't I tell you that this was Ring Premiere: the DVD? muhahahaha)
As an added bonus, I'm including an interview that I conducted with two RingComm members, Grace and Tian, to give you more of an idea of what goes on behind closed doors for the 9 months or so since RingComm was first selected.
Small liberties have been taken in editing the responses for clarity and repetition, and a big round of applause for Grace and Tian for answering my questions! :)
1. How does RingComm function? How often did you meet? What were the individual roles within RingComm?
Grace: We first met at the end of last spring with a few previous RingComm members, who gave us a little advice and guidance. Then, several of us were here in Boston over the summer, so unofficial meetings actually started a long time ago - checking out venues and thinking of ideas. When the school year started, we typically had meetings twice a week - one with Peg and Tim (the Balfour (note: the company that makes the rings) reps) and one by ourselves. The chair basically ran the meetings. We would tell Tim, our amazing artist, our ideas and he would send us proofs of what the ring might look like, which we would further discuss. The vice-chair booked meeting places, talked to a lot of different people who could help us out, and took care of most of the logistics. There are several other roles, such as the treasurer who handled the budget, the secretary who took meeting minutes, the historian (me, I mostly snapped pictures of venues and wherever else we went), and the webmaster who set up and continues to maintain our website. In addition, later on we formed a few sub-committees responsible for shirt and shotglass design as well as publicity, but pretty much everyone works on everything a little bit.
Tian: During the year, we met twice a week for about 2-3 hours each time - sometimes more, sometimes less (though the latter is really rare). At the meetings with Peg and Tim, we would provide feedback about the latest sketch/changes we wanted to make, and share more ideas of things we wanted to incorporate into the ring. In the other meetings, we'd also spend time brainstorming ideas, providing feedback, discussing more logistical things (i.e. ring premiere and delivery venues/dates/times, timeline, etc.). When the week of Ring Premiere came around, we were basically meeting every night to practice and run through scripts.
Meetings were mostly lead by the chair, who did an excellent job of getting everyone's viewpoints and keeping us on track. The chair was also in charge of contacting potential delivery venues and working out details in regard to that. The vice chair dealt more with logistical aspects, such as booking meeting rooms and getting in touch with people who could extend help to us. Other roles include: secretary (records meeting minutes), treasurer (oversees budget), historian/unofficial social chair (takes pictures/records all memorable moments), and webmaster (creates and maintains our website). As Grace mentioned, we also had sub-committees that were responsible for publicity, designing/ordering t-shirts and shotglasses, and text in brochures. We had a gold committee at one point too - they kept track of the gold price. So, everyone contributes in various ways during the whole process.
2. What was the timeline for the creation of this ring?
Grace: Things got decided as soon as everyone agreed on them, but the designs weren't finalized until early November. We had a study break about a month before so we could gauge the general feeling of the class of 2011 on certain issues using a survey and incorporate their ideas into the ring. After finalizing the ring, we started hardcore planning for Premiere - speeches, giveaways, the presentation, etc. The whole time, we've also been planning Delivery, the process of which went a little more slowly than we would have liked because we had a bit of trouble with the responsiveness of our venue. Things worked out eventually though, and that's mostly what we're going to be doing the rest of the semester.
Tian: For the most part, things (design ideas, to be more specific) got decided shortly after they were brought up and everyone agreed to them. There were maybe a few instances where it took a couple of meetings before we could all settle on and agree to how certain design ideas were incorporated on the ring. While the design process was going on, we were actively searching for the ideal delivery venue and were visiting and contacting various locations. After the design was finalized, we focused on preparing and practicing for Premiere. From now on, we'll be planning and finalizing things, such as catering, for Delivery.
3. An essential component to creating the Brass Rat is undoubtedly incorporating important elements of the Class of 2011 and significant events that happened in recent years. What were some of the most important ideas that RingComm identified through the process?
Grace: One matter that we wanted to address was the issue of hacking at MIT. There's been a lot of discussion around hacking and the administrators' attitudes towards it. We thought about incorporating many of the specific hacks that occurred while we were here, but we ultimately ended up putting some hackers on the Great Dome to recognize hacking culture in general. We also felt like we are a really well-balanced class, so we recognized that a little bit. This year was also the 50th anniversary of the Smoot and we are graduating in the sesquicentennial anniversary of MIT's founding, so we combined those events into the Smoot mark on the sidewalk.
Tian: One major Class of 2011 thing that we all know is that we are the sesquicentennial class of MIT. While we wanted to incorporate this on our ring, we didn't want to put a lot of focus on it--so, we ended up combining it with the 50th anniversary of Smoot in the Smoot mark on the bridge. Through the design process, we realized that we wanted our class ring to be a ring that would still be relevant to us come thirty, forty years in the future. So, the way we approached whether or not to include an element on the ring was sometimes by thinking from that perspective.
4. Another challenge to creating the 2011 Brass Rat is finding the balance of keeping true to tradition while incorporating individualistic creativity in designing a Brass Rat has a different vibe than all its predecessors. How did RingComm address this issue?
Grace: We wanted the background of our ring to have a totally different perspective than that of any other class. We chose one that we felt really symbolizes the time we shared here - the view from the bridge is a gorgeous one that we see quite frequently. Something that was important to us was to have a beaver that looks good. Other than that, we kept many of the traditions - IHTFP, ivy leaves, punt/tool - while adding in more modern elements such as the memristor and the CERN logo.
Tian: We definitely kept a lot of the traditions--punt/tool, IHTFP, ivy leaves, ...the beaver (...we did joke a lot about putting the chair's face on the bezel...haha). The skylines were one area that I felt we let our creativity run--especially with the Green building and its lights :) We tried to cater our design to our class (the beaver's tail, sailboats, etc.) Also, being creative doesn't necessarily mean that we needed to add new elements to the ring. We really liked the traditional MIT "nuts and bolts" insignia, which hasn't been incorporated in recent years' brass rats. So, we decided to include it, but also added a twist by making the screws read "X + I" --personalizing it for the Class of 2011.
5. How did RingComm resolve disagreements and conflicts that came up with the creation of the ring?
Grace: We basically resolved disagreements and conflicts by voting and talking things out - our chair did a good job of gathering everyone's opinions and including people who were less vocal than others. Sometimes we would have to table things or have email discussions, but I think we're all pretty reasonable people. We shared the same goal of creating a ring that the class will appreciate, so with a lot of time, dedication, and sometimes compromises from those in the minority opinion, we resolved the design issues.
Tian: From the very beginning, we all agreed to a voting process, where a certain percentage of present members had to agree before an idea was included in the design. Any disagreements and conflicts that came up along the way was met with discussions (both during meetings and through emails) and voting. As Grace said, our chair did a wonderful job of making sure everybody's opinions were heard and oftentimes tried to come up with compromises that both parties could agree to. We were all there for a common purpose of designing a ring that would be representative of our class and that our class would be proud of wearing.
6. What is the biggest hurdle the RingComm had to overcome? What about the biggest triumph/what the committee is most proud of?
Grace: The biggest hurdle...our vice-chair not being able to stay awake past her bedtime of 9pm. Haha....no, I felt like the biggest hurdle we had to overcome dealt with our delivery venue - they just took an agonizingly long time getting back to us about everything, but finally we got things finalized. The biggest triumph I would have to say is just the design of the ring - we had to unanimously approve everything, and after we did, I must say we felt pretty self-congratulatory. Then, when we unveiled it, we got a generally positive response from our class, which was super rewarding after the many hours we spent on it. Oh, also, we were really happy about locking in the price of gold before it started going way up, which is how our rings are less expensive than last year's!
Tian: In addition to delivery venue, I felt that a significant hurdle we had to overcome was finding the best way of presenting ideas we definitely wanted to incorporate on the ring. For example, the ideas of the owl and of including a reference to the LHC on the ring went through many variations before we found the versions that we all felt would fit well and look good on the ring. I agree with Grace - our biggest triumph would be coming up with a design of the ring that all of us support and are proud to wear. We're all very happy that many of our class feel the same way and with the positive responses we've been getting.
7. What do you (personally) like most about being on RingComm?
Grace: What I like most is having a little bit of ownership in the design of a ring that is part of a longstanding tradition and that hundreds of people will be wearing. It was also really great working with and learning from the other members, who are fun, amazing, and brilliant individuals! It doesn't hurt either that we get to wear our rings for the next three months before delivery =)
Tian: What I like most is that I am able to contribute my time/skills to designing a ring that is a part of MIT's tradition. In a sense, it's a way for me to give back to MIT. And, it's nice to think that in the future, I can look back on this and know that I contributed to something that links us all together. It was also wonderful getting to meet and work with the other members--and it never ceases to amaze me how talented and dedicated they all are.
Grace: So we joked in meetings that we would put 201 1's on the ring - I never actually counted, but they might be there? i know that there are like 2 1's in the diploma (reflected from each other) and 1's in the two leaves growing out of the scale...if you count like the windows and the rails and basically anything that is a line, you could probably come up with 201 1's.
--A Message From Snively--
So during the Ring Premiere, RingComm gave out numerous free goods as prizes for a raffle. Like always, I never win crap, but Snively definitely did!
A group of us got to ring premiere early so we could get the seats we wanted. We were first in a line of almost 1000 people, first to get raffle tickets, and the first to get seats near the back so that we could make a quick escape afterwards. Throughout the premiere the ring committee pulled raffle tickets out of a tub and gave away a variety of free prizes. Ring boxes, iTunes gift cards, discounts on rings, and even free rings were handed out. Somewhere around 10 raffle tickets were drawn, and I couldn't believe it when the first one drawn was mine. I was the proud owner of a cherry ring box and $25 iTunes gift card! A little while later the pulled another raffle ticket, and Pegler, two seats to my left, won $100 off his ring! Michelle, who was sitting between us, couldn't believe it. The people on either side of her had won prizes, the chances were ridiculous. Then, they called another number, and to my immediate right, Sam won a $100 discount. Now Michelle was sitting in a row with three raffle winners, nearly completely surrounded, but without a prize herself. It was time for the last raffle prize, a free ring. They pulled the ticket, read the number, and for a second we thought maybe it was finally Michelle's number, but all of a sudden Maddie, sitting directly behind Michelle, stood up and won the free ring. In the end, Michelle had two winners on her right, one winner on her left, and a winner immediately behind her, but remained prizeless herself. She's now convinced that she brings others good luck, while we're convinced that we need to sit next to her for every single raffle from now on.
ps. ALL of the winners held tickets which said 8915xx, 8916xx. 8920xx. I had 8918xx and my friend had 8919xx and we weren't even 100 places close to the winning tickets. Conspiracy, anyone? ;)
Matt's Compilation of Brass Rats
Mollie's 2006 Brass Rat
The Tech's Article on the 2006 Brass Rat
Matt's Entry of the 2007 Brass Rat
Mitra's 2007 Brass Rat
The Tech's Article on the 2007 Brass Rat
Melis' 2008 Brass Rat
The Tech's Article on the 2008 Brass Rat
Laura's 2009 Brass Rat
The Tech's Article on the 2009 Brass Rat
JKim's 2010 Brass Rat
The Tech's Article on the 2010 Brass Rat
Commenting below is left as an exercise to the reader.