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The traditions and student activities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology encompass hundreds of student activities, organizations, and athletics that contribute to MIT's distinct culture.




Independent Activities Period

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 terms.

Steer Roast

Steer Roast is an annual bacchanal hosted by Senior House.

Spring Weekend

Spring Weekend is an annual event that includes performances by local as well as major recording artists as well as picnics, parties, home varsity games, and other celebrations.

Sodium Drop

The Sodium Drop usually consists of a bar of metal sodium dropped into the Charles River, producing explosions due to the rapid conversion of sodium metal to sodium hydroxide and the ignition of the resulting hydrogen gas.

Time Traveler Convention

The Time Traveler Convention was a convention held at MIT on May 7, 2005, in the hopes of making contact with time travelers from the future. The convention was organized by Amal Dorai with help from current and former residents of the MIT living group Putz, one of the halls in the East Campus dorm. As of the date of the event, it was the most significantly publicized Time Traveler Convention, including front page coverage in the New York Times, Wired, and Slashdot.[1][2][3] It was presumed time travelers would have the capability to visit any particular time if they could travel to that general time period at all. The idea originated in a Cat and Girl strip[4] by Dorothy Gambrell.

The convention was held at 22:45 EDT on May 7, 2005 (May 8, 02:00 UTC) in the East Campus courtyard and Walker Memorial at MIT. That location is 42.360007 degrees north latitude, 71.087870 degrees west longitude.[5] The Convention was announced in advance (that is, before the event) and over 300 contemporary people attended. (For fire safety reasons, a handful of attendees watched the convention via a closed circuit broadcast.) The spacetime coordinates continue to be publicized prominently and indefinitely, so that future time travelers will be aware and have the opportunity to have attended.

The convention featured lectures on various aspects of time travel from MIT professors and faculty, including Erik Demaine, a MacArthur "genius grant" winner, Alan Guth, an Eddington Medal winner for theoretical astrophysics, and Edward Farhi, winner of numerous MIT teaching awards. A De Lorean DMC-12, the car featured in the Back to the Future trilogy, was also on display, near the "landing pad" located at the exact coordinates advertised.

The convention inspired a full-length musical entitled The Time Travelers Convention, in which three college students, who all want to change their pasts, hold a convention in the hopes that they will be able to borrow an attendee's time machine. Although the school in the musical is not MIT, MIT is mentioned twice, once by name and once in the coordinates, which are the same as the coordinates given in the original convention.

Coordinates: 42°21′36″N 71°05′16″W / 42.360007°N 71.08787°W / 42.360007; -071.087870

Brass rat

"Brass rat" refers to the MIT class ring, which prominently features the school mascot beaver on the top surface. The ring is made of gold, the beaver is the largest North American rodent, hence "gold beaver" becomes "brass rat" in student lingo.


MIT hacks

Roof and tunnel hacking


MIT has over 380 recognized student activity groups,[6]. These are generally governed by the MIT Association of Student Activities.

Sloan Undergraduate Management Association

The Sloan Undergraduate Management Association (SUMA) [1] is a student organization committed to the academic, career, and social development of MIT students interested in business. The group acts as an official liaison between students, business professionals, and Sloan faculty. Besides its nearly 20 annual professional panels, networking events, and academic forums, members of the Executive Board represent undergraduates on various internal and external committees while helping Sloan recruit undecided undergraduates.

Monarch B and Daedelus

The Monarch B was a human-powered aircraft built by a team at MIT in 1983 which won a Kremer Prize of £20,000 for sustaining a speed of over 30 km/h over a 1.5 km triangular course. It was a precursor to the MIT Daedalus effort to fly from Crete to the Greek mainland in 1988.

MIT Blackjack Team

MIT Educational Studies Program

The Education Studies Program, or ESP, was created by MIT students in 1957 to make a difference in the community by sharing MIT's knowledge and creativity with local high school students. Since then, they have grown to support well over a thousand students each year with the help of MIT students. The original High School Studies Program (HSSP) has been joined by many other enrichment programs over the years. Through an extensive offering of academic and non-academic classes, ESP is dedicated to providing a unique, affordable educational experience for motivated middle school and high school students. ESP classes are developed and taught by MIT students, alumni, and faculty, and members of the community. ESP's students are given the chance to learn from passionate and knowledgeable teachers; ESP's teachers can gain experience developing their own curricula with access to students with the strongest desire to learn. The result is a unique, dynamic curriculum and an atmosphere of unparalleled energy. They are the largest student-run program of their kind in the United States. Their most popular slogan is "Teach Anything!", from their programs Splash, Spark and HSSP. More information can be found on ESP's official website.


Mystery Hunt

Entrepreneurship Competition

William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition

MIT $100K

IAP Competitions

BattleCode (6.370)

6.370, also known previously as "RoboCraft" and now as "BattleCode", is the MIT ACM/IEEE Programming Competition. (See ) It is held every year during the Independent Activities Period at MIT, and the competition is changed annually. The game consists of armies of autonomous virtual robots battling each other, controlled solely by the AIs written by competition participants. BattleCode is programmed in Java, and the AIs (called "players") are written as extensions of a base robot class.

The competition has been roughly doubling in size every year since 2007. As of 2008, BattleCode has been opened up to virtually anyone interested in participating outside of MIT. The competition is a class at MIT and its software has been used for several other classes and projects.

Lego Robotics Competition (6.270)

Mobile Autonomous Systems Laboratory competition (Maslab)

Web Programming Competition (6.470)

IDEAS Competition

The MIT IDEAS Competition encourages teams to develop and implement projects that make a positive change in the world. Entries are judged on their innovation, feasibility, and community impact. One component of the competition is the Yunus Challenge, named in honor of 2006 Nobel Prize winner Dr. Muhammad Yunus, where teams are invited to tackle a specific development need. Previous topics include increasing adherence to tuberculosis drug regimens and affordable small-scale energy storage.

The competition was developed in part by Amy Smith, who has developed a number of inventions useful to poor communities.

Other Competitions

Lecture Series Committee


Tim the Beaver

Tim the Beaver is the mascot at MIT [2]. His name is Tim because it is MIT backwards. A beaver was selected as the mascot because beavers are nature's engineers. This decision was made at the Technology Club of New York's annual dinner on January 17, 1914. President Maclaurin proposed the beaver. The sports teams at MIT either choose to have Tim as their mascot, or to be the Engineers.

MIT THINK Competition

THINK stands for Technology for Humanity guided by Innovation, Networking, and Knowledge. The competition challenges high school students across the United States to take a refreshing approach to designing a technological solution to a social problem. Its founding vision is that applicants will learn how to be resourceful in society, which makes networking a core component of the competition.

Performing arts

Marching Band

The MIT Marching Band is purely student run, and is open to the entire MIT community. There is no audition and no prior experience is required.

The band plays at all types of events year-round. In its recent history, it has performed at football, basketball, lacrosse, field hockey, women's rugby, water polo, and hockey games. The band has also played for events such as the re-opening of the MIT Museum and the Cambridge Science Festival. During MIT's Campus Preview Weekend in April, the band leads the prospective freshmen from the keynote address in Rockwell Cage to an activities fair in Johnson Ice Rink. Every December, the band tours downtown Boston playing holiday music.

Symphony Orchestra

The MIT Symphony Orchestra is the symphony orchestra of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The origins of the MIT Symphony Orchestra (MITSO) date back as far as 1884 when the first MIT Tech Orchestra appeared on campus along with the Banjo and Glee Clubs. The orchestra disbanded and re-appeared several times over the years that followed until 1947, when Klaus Liepmann (1907-1990), MIT's first full-time professor of music and founder of the music program, became director of the MIT Glee Club, the Symphony and the Choral Society.

Nine years later John Corley (1919-2000) took over the direction of the Symphony until 1966, when David Epstein (1931-2002) became the Symphony Orchestra's music director. Under Prof. Epstein, the orchestra performed at Carnegie Hall and made several LP recordings. David Epstein's tenure ended in the spring of 1998 upon his retirement from the Institute. The MITSO has also performed with artists such as Peter Schickele, when he performed works of P.D.Q. Bach as a dog chained to the concertmaster. After an international search, Dante Anzolini became Music Director of the Orchestra and Associate Professor of Music at MIT in September 1998. For the 2006-2007 season, Paul Biss from Indiana State University served as interim conductor for MITSO, and in the fall of 2007, Adam Boyles began his tenure as the current music director.

Chamber Chorus

Concert Choir

Concert Band

Wind Ensemble

The MIT Wind Ensemble has released a CD entitled "Waking Winds."

The MIT Wind Ensemble (or MITWE or 21M.426) is a group of instrumental performers who are students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The group performs classic (such as Holst and Grainger) and contemporary wind ensemble repertoire. It also commissions many new works.

The ensemble was formed in 1999 by Dr. Frederick Harris Jr.. It is led by him and Kenneth Amis, tuba player in the Empire Brass.

The ensemble performs 4 concerts per year in Kresge Auditorium. The concerts are open to the public. The ensemble also has performed with local middle school and high school bands, as part of an outreach program.

Admission to the MIT Wind Ensemble is by audition only. Current players must re-audition at the beginning of every year to remain in the ensemble. The audition consists of a short piece of the student's choice, a sight reading exercise, and a chromatic scale. Undergraduate students in the ensemble may choose to take MITWE for academic credit. In this case, the student must take a short playing exam at the end of each term.

In 2002 and 2003, the ensemble recorded its first CD ("Waking Winds") featuring 4 works by Boston area composers:

  • Concertino for Violin and Chamber Winds, by Peter Child
  • The Congress of the Insomniacs, by Brian Robison
  • Song and Dance, by Gunther Schuller
  • Drill, by Evan Ziporyn

The recording sessions took place in Jordan Hall, Kresge Auditorium, and Killian Hall.

The ensemble's second CD ("Solo Eclipse") was released in 2008, featuring new works by:

The ensemble has commissioned many works for Wind Band, including pieces by Kenneth Amis, Kenny Werner, Erica Foin, Forrest Larson, Ran Blake, Guillermo Klein, Evan Ziporyn, and others.

Musical Theater Guild

The Musical Theatre Guild is an entirely student-run theater group which performs four musicals per year (spring term, summer, fall term, and IAP). Membership is open to anyone, but preference is given to MIT students and MIT community members for cast and production roles. Performances are open to the general public.

In IAP 2003, MTG produced Star Wars: Musical Edition, a musical version of the original Star Wars movie, featuring musical numbers from existing musicals with the lyrics changed to fit the plot. In April 2005, part of the group performed selections from the show at Celebration III, a Star Wars convention for which George Lucas was present. In the fall of 2005, MTG produced Star Wars Trilogy: Musical Edition, which encompassed the entire original trilogy.


Tech Squares

Folk Dance Club

The MIT Folk Dance Club, founded in 1959, sponsors 3 public dance sessions every week: international folk dancing, contra dancing, and Israeli dancing.

In the 1960's it sponsored four Folk Dance Festivals. Folk Dance Festivals

Ballroom Dance Club

MIT Shakespeare Ensemble

MIT Dramashop

A cappella


The MIT/Wellesley Toons are a co-ed college a cappella singing group. Founded in 1990, the group takes its members from both the undergraduate and graduate students of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the undergraduates of Wellesley College. The Toons perform several times each year at free concerts on both campuses, as well as at a variety of other venues both nearby and out-of-state.


The Chorallaries of MIT is the oldest co-ed a cappella performing group at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Founded in the winter of 1976-77, the group is typically composed of undergraduates, graduates, and occasionally faculty. They perform several free public concerts a year on the MIT campus, as well as at a number of other events on- and off-campus, including the MIT President's House and the MIT Graduation Ceremony.

Their signature song, the Engineer's Drinking Song, is a traditional tech favorite.

The Chorallaries have competed in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella numerous times, winning the quarter-finals in 2000, 2003, and 2006, as well as the semi-finals in 1996 and 2006.

The group is known for its humor and creativity, culminating in "The Nth Annual Concert in Bad Taste".

Bad Taste is a concert devoted solely to off-color, nerdy, controversial, offensive, and often humorous material; a good-faith effort is made to offend everybody equally, but no quarter is given. Popular topics include: offensive sexual references; mocking the MIT administration; lambasting Harvard University, Wellesley College, Simmons College and other colleges in the region; excruciatingly hilarious science puns; and disgusting sexual references. The concert is usually about 2 1/2 hours long, with a mixture of skits, songs, and general hilarity.


The Resonance of MIT is a student rock/pop a cappella group from MIT. Founded in the 2000-2001 school year, the group is co-ed and typically consists of sixteen undergraduate and graduate students (though its size varies). It is one of seven a cappella groups at the school, and is known across campus for its frequent free performances and its funny, edgy interludes used to keep audiences amused between songs.

Nationally, Resonance is perhaps best known for its recognition through CASA, the Contemporary A Cappella Society, having received a 2004 and 2008 Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award (CARA) nomination for Best Mixed Collegiate Arrangement, a 2008 CARA award for Best Scholastic Original, as well as a berth on the 2006 Best of College A Cappella compilation CD. The group is also known for regularly hosting the International Championship of College A Cappella New England Semifinals.

The group has produced three albums, its latest being the self-titled "Resonance" released in Fall 2007.

Resonance was envisioned by Sara Jo Elice who, with her friend (and eventual co-founder) Jessica Hinel, fleshed out the original idea while waiting to audition for an MIT Musical Theatre Guild production. Jay Humphries was auditioning for the same production and ended up becoming an inaugural Resonance member as well. In 2001, the MIT Association of Student Activities recognized Resonance as its seventh a cappella group on campus at the time.

The name Resonance follows an established joke among MIT a cappella groups of using a science or math-based pun to name the group. In science, resonance has to do with vibration and harmony. Specifically, resonant frequencies are the frequencies that cause natural amplification of signal - a commonly cited example being the singer who can, at the right frequency, break glass with their voice. Keeping with the theme, the resonance name is often formatted as "res(((o)))nance." and displayed alongside a logo of a shattered wine glass.

Resonance regularly performs on the MIT campus, at the minimum presenting a single full-length concert per term. Each concert is primarily composed of a collection of songs, both covers and originals, selected and arranged for a cappella by members of the group. Over 100 different songs have been performed by the group since 2001.

Resonance, like many a cappella groups, has a single "alum" song, taught to all members and used to close almost all performances. Group alumni are invited to join the current members on stage to finish the night. Resonance's alum song is "Easy People" by the Nields.

Resonance has released three albums:

  • Resonance (2007)
  • Left On Red (2005)
  • First Harmonic (2003)

Resonance is also featured on two a cappella collections:

  • acaTunes Awards 2007 (2007) - Collection, features "So Little Notice" by Sarah Dupuis as performed by Resonance
  • Best of College A Cappella 2006 (2006) - Collection, features "Mystify (Atrévete)" by Chenoa as performed by Resonance

All three Resonance full-length albums are available only through the group directly. Best of College A Cappella is produced and distributed to various retail sources by Varsity Vocals. acaTunes awards are produced by acaTunes.


Founded in 1949, the MIT Logarhythms is an all-male a cappella performance group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Initially a barbershop double quartet, the Logs (as their name is often foreshortened[8][9][10]) have in recent years migrated to a more popular medium. Their current repertoire consists primarily of modern pop, hip hop, and classic rock, though their barbershop roots live on in a few tunes.

The Logs perform throughout Massachusetts and the New England area. Recent biannual tours have included performances around Washington DC, California, Michigan, and Texas. The group has earned songs on the Best of College A Cappella (BOCA) compilation albums from 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2009, and their album Soundproof received near-perfect marks in its review from the Recorded A Cappella Review Board[11].

In March 2007, the Logs participated in and took first place in WERS' All A Cappella Live competition at the Majestic Theatre in Boston, competing against the Tufts Beelzebubs, Brandeis VoiceMale, and the Harvard Low Keys[12][13].

  • Give Us Back Our Spyplane (2008)
  • Natural (2006)
  • Soundproof (2004)
  • Superlogs (2002)
  • Mind the Logs (1999)
  • Redwood (1997)
  • Songs From The Bagel (1994)

Natural features cover songs performed and recorded by the '04-05 and '05-06 members of the MIT Logarhythms. The tracks were recorded at MIT at the Logarhythms' studio. Tracks were subsequently mixed by producer John Clark[14].

"Part-Time Lover" soloist Chris Vu won a 2007 CARA award as Best Male Collegiate Soloist[15]. "Such Great Heights" received a 2007 CARA nomination for Best Male Collegiate Song.

Soundproof features cover songs performed and rceorded by the '02-03 and '03-04 members of the MIT Logarhythms. The tracks were recorded at MIT at the Logarhythms' newly-built studio[16]. Track one was mixed by Viktor Kray. All remaining tracks were mixed by John Clark.

"The Kids Aren't Alright" was featured as the first track on the Best of College A Cappella 2005 compilation[17]. "No Such Thing" appeared as track nine on the Best of College A Cappella 2004 compilation[18]. "Learn to Fly" was Runner Up for Best Male Collegiate Arrangement in the 2005 CARA awards[19].

Cross Products

The Cross Products are MIT's Christian co-ed a cappella singing group.


MIT's only all-female a cappella group.


Techiya is MIT's Jewish, Hebrew, Israeli a cappella group. Founded in 1994, the group released its first album in 2002, entitled Half-Life.


The Asymptones are MIT's low-time-commitment a capella group. Founded in 2007, they have infrequent concerts and just sing for fun.


Founded in 2008, Syncopasian promotes the awareness of Asian pop culture at MIT and the surrounding community through performances of Asian a cappella music. Unlike other a cappella groups on campus, its repertoire includes songs in not only English, but also Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean, and other languages that are East Asian in origin.

Publications and media


MIT International Review

MIT International Review, Spring 2007

The MIT International Review (MITIR) is an interdisciplinary journal of international affairs published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The aim of the publication is to "foster solution-oriented discourse about international problems.[20]

Technique, the Yearbook and Photography Club of MIT

The Tech

  • The Tech is MIT's student newspaper. It's published twice a week during the school year.



MIT Technology Insider

  • MIT Technology Insider

Student government

MIT's student body has several governing organizations. The Undergraduate Association is the primary representative body for undergraduate students while the Graduate Student Council represents the interests of graduate students. Organizations like the Interfraternity Council (IFC), Panhellenic Council (Panhel), Living Group Council (LGC), and Dormitory Council (Dormcon) are independent bodies that represent the interests of fraternities, sororities, independent living groups, and undergraduate dormitories respectively.


MIT has 33 varsity sports teams. Of the previous 41 varsity sports, eight (Alpine Skiing, Golf, Men's Ice Hockey, Women's Ice Hockey, Men's Gymnastics, Women's Gymnastics, Pistol, and Wrestling) were cut in 2009 for budget reasons.[21] MIT also has an extensive club and intramural sports team. MIT undergraduates must complete physical education classes as well as a swim test in order to graduate.

Course numbering

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.[22] 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 number to identify their subjects; the course which many universities would designate as "Physics 101" is, at MIT, "8.01." For brevity, course number designations are pronounced without the decimal point and by replacing "oh" for zero (unless zero is the last number). Thus, "8.01" is pronounced eight oh one, "6.001" is pronounced six double oh one, and "7.20" would be pronounced seven twenty.[23]


  1. ^ Belluck, Pam (2005-05-06). "Time Travelers to Meet in Not Too Distant Future". The New York Times. Retrieved 2006-04-11. 
  2. ^ Mark Baard. "Time Travelers welcome at MIT". Wired.,1282,67451,00.html. Retrieved 2006-07-31. 
  3. ^ "Time Travelers' Convention". Slashdot. Retrieved 2006-07-31. 
  4. ^ Cat and Girl
  5. ^ Note: The point listed lies just North of and outside of the tennis court on most current satellite maps. For instance, Google maps shows the center of the court at 42.359477, -71.087763 .
  6. ^ "MIT Association of Student Activities". Retrieved 2006-11-01. 
  7. ^ "MIT $100K:: About". Retrieved 2006-11-01. 
  8. ^ SPOTLIGHT OF THE WEEK: MIT Logarhythms - The Tech
  9. ^ :: Artist Interview: The MIT Logarhythms
  10. ^ Coming to a College Near You - Arts Living
  11. ^ RARB Review of Logarhythms - Soundproof
  12. ^ CONCERT REVIEW A Cappella Group Vaults to Top of the 'Log' Scale - The Tech
  13. ^ MIT a cappella group rules over rivals with Van Halen, Gorillaz - MIT News Office
  14. ^ CB Productions
  15. ^ CASA - the contemporary a cappella society - CARA Nominees 2007
  16. ^ Logs Will Build New Studio Open to A Capella Groups - The Tech
  17. ^ BOCA CDs - BOCA 2005: Best of College A Cappella '05 (CD)
  18. ^ BOCA CDs - BOCA 2004: Best of College A Cappella '04 (CD)
  19. ^ CASA - the contemporary a cappella society
  20. ^ "MIT International Review"
  21. ^ MIT to reduce the number of varsity sports offered Retrieved 7 March 2010
  22. ^ "MIT Education". Retrieved 2006-12-03. 
  23. ^ Course numbers are traditionally presented in Roman numerals, e.g. Course XVIII for mathematics. Starting in 2002, the Bulletin (MIT's course catalog) started to use Arabic numerals. Usage outside of the Bulletin varies, both Roman and Arabic numerals being used). This section follows the Bulletin's usage.

External links


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