MIT: From Boston to Cambridge and Beyond MIT is not only about structure and technology; it also embraces community, creativity, and collaboration. It’s the Fourth of July, and deep within the center of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s campus sits the massive Green Building. Its 21 stories of solid concrete make it the tallest building in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but there is something unique happening at this building tonight. Each window is shining bright with the LED lights dancing across the side of the building, creating the image of a waving American flag. The flag is the product of an MIT Hack, which are clever, but friendly, pranks pulled mainly by the students against the campus and surrounding community. Hacks have become a huge tradition at MIT, and each year students try to surpass the previous great idea. One of the most legendary Hacks was in 1994 when students placed a fake police car at the top of the famous Maclaurin Building’s dome, instigating a hilarious “rescue” by the real police officers of Cambridge, MA.
Maclaurin Building (http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massachusetts_Institute_of_Technology)
During a CAA Coach’s visit to MIT, the prevailing atmosphere was collaborative and highly energetic. At MIT, students live and work together in friendly competition to become the world’s leading problem solvers. MIT’s mission for their students is to learn without intimidation in a collaborative environment. MIT students are encouraged to complete homework, projects, and sometimes even take-home tests in groups. In addition, freshman students will not receive grades during their first year at MIT, and any failing grades are wiped right from their record (for the first year only, of course). There are many MIT traditions worth highlighting, but one of the most intriguing is their housing process. First, it’s good to know they guarantee four years of housing to undergrads and require freshmen to live on campus. But MIT gets it; they understand that not anyone can live with just anyone, and not everyone can live just anywhere, which is why their housing assignment system is processed the best way they know how: using math! Each of the 11 dorms has its own culture and personality, and although not required, students typically live in the same place until graduation. Before a student’s first year begins, they are given the opportunity to check out each dorm for themselves and choose the ones they like best. MIT then asks for each student’s preferences, and through a complicated algorithm, their living quarters are chosen. But not all math is perfect, so first-years who really won’t feel at home where they were placed will get a chance to change their assignment during the housing lottery. MIT first opened its doors for classes in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood in 1865. Fifty-one years later, the school officially moved across the Charles River to its current home in Cambridge, MA. Since the first day of classes, MIT has focused on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) studies. However, they have also embraced the arts and understand the importance of creative expression, something that is evident throughout the campus’ landscape. Scattered around campus are large sculptures that MIT has been collecting since the 1960s. The buildings towering over those sculptures are mainly limestone and concrete, but just at the end of Vassar Street sits the quirky and multifunctional Ray and Maria Stata Center. Built in 2004 and designed by architects from Gehry Partners, LLP, the building has multiple sustainable elements, which partially accounts for the funky and eye-catching design. The Stata Center is almost as unique as the MIT students themselves, but it’s possible for a student to pass right by without even seeing it. One of MIT’s interesting quirks is that students can go from class to class without ever setting foot outside. Most of the buildings on MIT’s campus are connected by hallways or underground tunnels, which comes in quite handy during the frigid winter months.
Ray and Maria Stata Center (https://www.flickr.com/photos/rjshade/9460737033/)
MIT has a lot to offer its students, but you should be sure it is the right fit before applying. Admissions officers at MIT will be looking for this in their applicants, too! If you are interested, clients can contact a CAA Coach or you can go to MIT’s website to learn more about life in Cambridge overlooking the Charles.