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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

A bevy of beautiful Brass Rat bezels by Matt McGann '00

More on the evolution of the MIT class ring.

To go along with Chris’ entry about excitement for the unveiling of the ring, here’s a bit of history and background.

Each class year at MIT officially gathers three times — once, at the beginning, for the freshman picture; once, at the end, for graduation; and once, halfway through, for the unveiling of the class ring. The design process begins in freshman year with the highly competitive process of choosing the ring committee, or “RingComm,” of 12 class members, students representing different MIT walks of life. The RingComm next solicits bids for the very lucrative ring contract: 90% of all students will purchase the ring in a typical year; one company actually shuts down their factory for the one week each year of prime MIT ring-buying. Using imagery representing events from their first two years at MIT, and drawing upon suggestions and ideas of the entire class, RingComm designs the ring over a six-month period, unveils it at an extravagant event, and stages a lavish delivery ceremony.

How did this all start?

The history of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Class Ring dates back to the spring of 1929. C. Brigham Allen, President of the Class of 1929, appointed a ring committee consisting of members from the classes of 1930, 1931, and 1932. Their mission was to design a ring to be used as the Standard Technology Ring. The committee’s first decision was whether to use the beaver or the Great Dome on the ring bezel. After much debate, the committee decided to adorn the bezel of the ring with the beaver and have a three-piece construction, with MIT and the class year each appearing on a separate shank. Thus the Brass Rat was born as a tradition at MIT.

Yes, the ring is known as the Brass Rat. Why? Because it is made of gold and features a beaver on the front.

Why a beaver? Another interesting story. In 1914, Lester Gardner of the MIT Club of New York proposed a mascot to President Richard Maclaurin.

“We first thought of the kangaroo, which, like Tech, goes forward by leaps and bounds. Then we considered the elephant. He is wise, patient, strong, hard working, and like all those who graduate from Tech, has a good tough hide. But neither of these were American animals. We turned to [William Temple] Hornaday’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.”

Now that you have all that background on this important aspect of MIT tradition, I want to use today’s entry to catalog the recent history of Brass Rat designs, focusing on the bezel, or front, of the ring.

Let’s start with the Rat which was just unveiled: the Class of 2011 Brass Rat.

The Class of 2010 Brass Rat:

The Class of 2009 Brass Rat:

The Class of 2008 Brass Rat:

The Class of 2007 Brass Rat:

The Class of 2006 Brass Rat:

The Class of 2005 Brass Rat:

The Class of 2004 Brass Rat:

The Class of 2003 Brass Rat (stainless steel option shown):

The Class of 2002 Brass Rat:

The Class of 2001 Brass Rat:

And finally, the Class of 2000 Brass Rat (the one currently on my right hand):

Which Rat is your favorite?

[updated from a previous entries, which later became a Wikipedia page]

25 responses to “A bevy of beautiful Brass Rat bezels”

  1. Lsanneman says:

    Ahhhhh!!!!! Where’s the IHTFP?

  2. Han says:

    The Class of 2001 Brass Rat is so pixel art. xd
    2011 looks awesome! congrats!

  3. Isra says:

    I say the 2008 and 2009 brass rats are cool! smile
    But yea, the 2011 definitely is the most refined form! No offense but the ’00 brass rat is somewhat scary!! :D
    And probably the 2004, 2005 and 2007 ‘Techs’ were quite cheerful as the beaver seems so elated to be on the ring!
    This whole ring tradition is just adorable…I wish I can be a part of it 2 years from now smile

  4. MOHIT SINDHU says:

    ahhh!!… class 2007’s rat is great.

  5. MOHIT SINDHU says:

    ahhh!!… class 2007’s brass rat is great.

  6. Abdel-karim says:

    ’00 and ’07 are the best rings

  7. Colton says:

    I would say that the 2011 rat would be my favorite. It has a clean design and a great reference to Smoot and the 150th. The only thing it appears to be missing are the letters symbolic of MIT lifestyle, IHTFP.

  8. Oasis '11 says:

    It’s definitely not missing. You’ve just got to find it. smile

  9. Colton says:

    @Oasis ’11: I know of it being on the class shank but I can’t find it on the bezel.

  10. deng says:

    I think my favorite is the ’11 one. but maybe I’m biased because I just read chris’s blog xD

  11. My favorites are the 08 and the 11 Brass rats.

    08 because, from the picture I felt that it is working for the Nature, and 11 because it is the most refined one.

  12. Anonymous says:

    “IHTFP” is in the top left corner in the ’11 version. Does the location mean that Simmons is the heart of the campus???

  13. fox says:

    2003 ring looks great, picture perfect!

  14. Varun says:

    The millennium one looks the best to my eyes.

  15. Aaraventin says:

    I like the Class of 2000 original one the best. It’s definitely the most original.

    Want to beat the admission anxiety? Check out this math problem at MindCipher: the Easy Sum of 1..100

  16. fox says:


    we had such kind of problems in 9th grade!

  17. DMR says:

    I’m pretty sure that the beaver’s more a “Canadian” animal, but hey, it lives in the US too, but whatever. raspberry

  18. Mak says:

    Hey Matt !!!!……..

    buddy i want to ask u something…………..

    on MIT website it is given that cutoff for TOEFL is
    90 mark for internet based test……….but i scored 80 marks in that test……….so what are the possibilities of me getting in………

    also i scored 700 marks in physics and mathematics level II each………..

    please reply ………………..

  19. I think the 2011 rat really does look the most refined. Also, I know what all the bits in it mean by dint of having read Chris’s post, unlike the other rings XD

    But I also really like the 2007 ring because it looks like the beaver there is yealling “SCIENCE!” in proper mad-scientist form and that’s awesome ^.^

  20. Scared... says:

    Hey Matt, if you were traditionally strong in a subject (say math) but you are struggling with it this year even though other grades are good, can that get your admission rescinded? :-(

  21. Ana says:

    Wow. See, it’s things like this, too, that make MIT what it is. lol That’s what I’m gathering, anyway.
    Sure, previous learning is important, but isn’t putting that learning into use and still having a life what MIT encourages?
    I mean, this website itself expresses originality and thought. The MIT students writing blogs are so creative and inspiring. Innovative, really. It makes you want to think for the mere purpose of thinking, and progress in your education and life while helping others to do the same. This is why I like MIT.
    Sorry to sprout a topic not so immediately connected to this blog’s purpose, but it just gets me thinking about the kind of school MIT is.
    Am I getting the jist of what MIT is about?

  22. swarit says:

    I liked the 2004 brass rat if u talk about beauty and 2012 brass rat , which u still need to put, because i always look forward.

  23. prinz says:

    What if I didn’t pass the minimum TOEFL score. Is there still a chance to be admitted?

  24. Jixin Shang says:

    hi,i am a chinese boy and i am 22 years old.i am a freshman in China Agricultueal University.
    i love MIT very much,and want to make more friends,i think you are so outstanding,and want to be make friends with you.
    i think we will communicate very happy.i am also want to improve my english.
    this is my email:[email protected] am waiting for your letter.
    best wishes!
    Jixin Shang