Athletics

Slice of MIT sports storiesThe number of MIT alumni involved in professional sports grows each year. Thanks to these alumni, plus events like the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference (SSAC), which begins today, the Institute’s imprint on the sports landscape is increasing.

To celebrate this growing connection, the Alumni Association has spotlighted alumni working in sports fields all week. The sports-themed week was highlighted by a Twitter chat on Tuesday, Feb. 24 that featured Jyoti Agarwal ’03, a senior director at the NBA; Brian Bilello ’97, New England Revolution president; and Mike Fitzgerald ’11, Pittsburgh Pirates quantitative analyst.

To culminate the week, scan Slice‘s archive of more than 50 sports-related stories below. As you’ll read, the Slice archives feature some surprising MIT connections in some offbeat athletics, including tug of war, ballroom dancing, weightlifting, and even professional wrestling.

 

 

 

 

 

Analytics

Auto Racing

Ballroom Dancing

Baseball

Basketball

Cheerleading

Cricket

Football

Golf

Hockey

Martial Arts

Professional Wrestling

Rowing and Sailing

Running

Skydiving

Tug of War

Olympics

Weightlifting

More Sports Stories

Have we missed any MIT-related sports connections? Let us now in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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Update: Dartmouth College named Linda Muri ’85 head coach of women’s rowing in August 2014. 

Linda Muri, Harvard, Dartmouth, MIT, rowing

Linda Muri ’85

Harvard rowing coach Linda Muri is the only woman to have led a Division I men’s boat to a collegiate national championship. In fact, for 15 years she was the only female coach of a Division I men’s team. But Muri’s next challenge requires a different sort of leadership. Muri cochairs the MIT Crew Alumni Association’s boathouse committee, which is conducting a feasibility study on renovating the Harold W. Pierce Boathouse because, she says, “it’s not really serving everyone well enough.”

Muri enrolled at MIT hoping to become an astronaut. An astronautics and aeronautics major, she played varsity field hockey and basketball and ran track her first year before dipping an oar in a Class Day race for her living group, pika. “I got hooked and that was that,” she says. She rowed varsity through her undergraduate years, serving as captain for the final two.

After graduating, she did design and engineering work for boat builder Composite Engineering in Concord before focusing on making the national team herself. She rowed on that team for nine years, capturing 18 national championships and three world titles. In 1994, she set a world record rowing in a lightweight fours race at the World Rowing Championships.

Muri earned a teaching degree at Harvard in 1997 and then moved to Ithaca, New York, when her husband, Mattison Crowe, started business school. Cornell was short one coach after the semester began, and she gave it a try. “I was teaching, but it was rowing! I thought it was remarkable that that could be a job,” she says. She’s now in her 13th season coaching at Harvard, and her grateful student rowers benefit from her expertise. In fact, the MIT and Radcliffe lightweight women’s crews have named their annual series the Muri Cup in her honor.

As a board member of the MIT Crew Alumni Association, Muri supports rowing by raising money, leading projects like the boathouse renovation, and more. “We make sure the opportunity is there for students to learn about rowing and complement their studies at MIT,” she says.

And she still rows in a few races a year. Last year she won the Head of the Charles in the Women’s Senior Masters division, setting a new record. She and her husband, a marketing director for a sports and rescue rope company, live in Watertown with their French bulldog, Max.

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2014 issue of MIT Technology Review magazine.

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While some MIT alumni transition to professional sports after they leave the Institute, they’re not getting drafted by the MLB or NBA. They are bringing critical thinking and data analysis to the world of professional sports. Alumni work in every professional sports league in America and events like the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference demonstrate the impact that MIT-style thinking now has on professional sports.

To highlight alumni working in sports we’re hosting an #MITAlum Twitter chat on Tuesday, February 24. at noon EST with off-the-field sports pros Jyoti Agarwal ‘03, Brian Bilello ’97, and Mike Fitzgerald ’11. Agarwal, Bilello, Fitzgerald will take questions on Twitter about their time at MIT, what it’s like working in sports, and the role data and analytics play in their jobs. Learn more about these alumni and bring your questions on Tuesday at noon EST. Tweet your questions and follow the conversation with #MITAlum.

Jyoti-2Jyoti Agarwal Senior Director—Marketing and Media Planning, NBA

As Course 7 major and Course 5 minor, Agarwal left MIT with plans to become a doctor. Agarwal followed a career path that that wound through PUMA sportswear, Harvard Business School, Bain Capital, eventually landing at the NBA. Agarwal says she first fell in love with sports while attending MIT and living in Boston. “I still maintain that there is no better sports city in the world,” she says.

Bilello_BrianBrian Bilello President, New England Revolution

Bilello began working for the Kraft Sports Group in 2003 and was named president of the Revolution in 2011. While at MIT, Bilello played varsity soccer and studied chemical engineering. He recently shared with Slice, “I studied chemical engineering but MIT didn’t necessarily train me to be a chemical engineer. They trained me to solve chemical engineering problems, and I can apply that perspective to my job with the Revolution.”

Mike-FitzMike Fitzgerald Quantitative Analyst, Pittsburgh Pirates

An athlete at MIT, Course 8 major Fitzgerald transitioned from playing wider-receiver for MIT football to working behind the scenes in professional baseball. After graduation Fitzgerald found he missed the team atmosphere that sports had always provided him. Fortunately, Fitzgerald soon joined the Pittsburgh Pirates as a quantitative analyst—a role that has contributed the Pirates’ first playoff appearance in 20 years.

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Guest blogger: Zach Church, MIT Sloan

The NHL last month named energy company Constellation the official preferred energy provider of the league, a deal that will find Constellation providing energy efficiency analysis for the league and offsetting the carbon footprint of its 2014-2015 season.

The 2014 NHL Winter Classic in Ann Arbor, Mich. Photo: Dave Sanford, Getty Images

The 2014 NHL Winter Classic in Ann Arbor, Mich. Photo: Dave Sanford, Getty Images

The Dec. 18 announcement was a big one for the hockey league, which since 2010 has been touting its NHL Green initiative and which in July released a massive sustainability report chronicling the environmental impact of its games, its arenas, its corporate partners, and even the travel of its fans.

The report is the work of Omar Mitchell MBA ’12, who joined the NHL in 2012 as director of sustainability. Add in accompanying projects like a push to introduce energy- and heat-saving LED lighting in hockey arenas, and Mitchell has had a busy three years.

The sustainability report—a “tome,” Mitchell only half-jokes—was never a given. Though all of North America’s major sports leagues have some type of sustainability initiative, none has taken on such a hefty task, especially one not required of them. By voluntarily reporting its carbon footprint, the NHL is putting a stake in the ground and publically challenging itself to improve, Mitchell said.

For a sport whose greatest players learned the game on frozen ponds, there is an existential element to the threat of climate change. The report notes that NHL fans are more likely to recycle, support environmental causes, and buy eco-friendly products than the average U.S. adult….

Producing such an extensive report and using it to identify and drive sustainability initiatives required significant buy-in and partnership not only at the league offices in New York City, but among its 30 teams. Mitchell gained that support with the help of only one full-time staffer and an intern. To develop the report, he worked with the National Resources Defense Council, a climate change advocacy group and NHL Green’s primary advisor….

“We think of the report as ‘This is where we are,’” Mitchell said. “And then, once we know where we are, both quantitatively and qualitatively, where do we want to go?”

Jason Jay, a senior lecturer and the director of the MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative, said corporate sustainability leaders like Mitchell must demonstrate the value of sustainability work to the business at large.

“The biggest challenge is one of translation of sustainability into the language, values, and goals of the people you need to engage,” Jay said. “People don’t understand terms like C02e or disability-adjusted life years, and they certainly haven’t been incentivized to improve them.”

Read the complete story for details.

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Like many graduate students, Gwen Sisto SM ’10 worked on a startup while at MIT. Unlike many MIT students, this startup wasn’t in biotech, software, or technology. Sisto’s startup makes weightlifting shoes.

“Whenever I told someone I had a startup they would get excited. When I told them it was shoes they would stop talking to me,” she remembers.

Sisto-Lift

Sisto competing. Photo: Gwen Sisto

Sisto—an aerospace engineer and Olympic-style weightlifter—and her husband weightlifting coach Ivan Rojas founded Risto Sports in 2008 to serve what they saw as an untapped market, Olympic-style weightlifters.

Sisto and Rojas came up with the idea for Risto Sports while training for the 2008 Olympic trials. “We were training and realized there was really only one brand of weightlifting shoes for the lifters to buy,” she says. “Our initial mission was to be a service to the weightlifting community and bring high-quality shoes.”

Sisto used her deep understanding of weightlifting and engineering to create the best shoes for weightlifters. “I can take my experience in both worlds and try to come up with something more high-tech and more sophisticated,” she says. “It’s an extremely technical sport, so you really need the right equipment.”

Risto Sports Classic weightlifting shoe. Photo: Risto Sports

This expertise made Risto Sports a favorite among lifters and helped create the shoes’ defining characteristic—a wood heel. Sisto explains that wood doesn’t mean low-tech, “We did a lot of materials testing to find the right wood and all these technical specifications. A lot of thought goes into the product using my engineering background.”

Sisto hopes her technical and personal approach to weightlifting shoes will help to change the industry. “There’s a lot of nepotism and snake oil salesmen in the weightlifting world in products and training. Somebody’s got to change that and who better than a rocket scientist?” she says.

Aside from working as an engineer and trying to change the weightlifting world, Sisto is also working on personal goals—she’s currently training for the 2016 Olympic trials.

 

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McVay

Elaine McVay ’15 led the women’s cross country team to second-place finish at the 2014 NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships. Image via MIT Athletics.

MIT’s undefeated football team is receiving mainstream media attention, but the team’s winning ways are only a portion of MIT’s athletic success this fall. As of Monday, November 24, 12 of MIT’s varsity sports teams had winning records, four were ranked in the top 10 nationally, and three more were ranked in the top 25.

Read about the latest MIT sports news below then visit the MIT Athletics site for more information on news and games. Follow @mitengineers on Twitter for real-time updates and weekly summaries.

Cross Country

The women’s cross country team, ranked second nationally, finished in second place—out of 32 teams—at the 2014 NCAA Division III Cross Country Championship on November 22. The team finished in fifth overall in 2013, and this year’s runner-up finish marks the team’s fifth consecutive top 10 national ranking.

Elaine McVay ’15 finished in 11th out of 275 runners, completing the six-kilometer course in 22:00.0, the best finish of her MIT career. Sarah Quinn ’16 (16th place), Christina Wicker ’17 (17th), and classmate Maryann Gong ’18 (32nd) all finished in the top 50.

The men’s cross country team took eighth place at the November 22 championship. The team’s eighth- place finish, their best since 1985, included a fourth-place finish (out of 280) for Spencer Wench ’15 and top 25 finishes for Colin Godwin ’18 (22nd) and Matthew Deyo ’17 (25th).

Krishnamachar

Ambika Krishnamachar ’15 was named NEWMAC Athlete of the Year for the second consecutive year. Image via MIT Athletics.

Soccer

The women’s soccer team, ranked 24th nationally, defeated Colby-Sawyer, 3-1, in the first round of the NCAA Women’s Soccer Tournament. (The Engineers lost to Roger Williams, 1-0, in round two.) Three MIT athletes received NEWMAC All-Conference honors, including Ambika Krishnamachar ’15, who was named Athlete of the Year for the second consecutive season.

The men’s team, which finished 8-7-3, placed three athletes on the NEWMAC All-Conference team, including Rookie of the Year Joshua Wilson ’18.

Swimming and Diving

The men’s swimming and diving team, ranked sixth nationally, is undefeated in the team’s first three dual meets of the season. The women’s team, ranked 11th, is 4-0. Four members from both teams collected NEWMAC weekly honors. Both teams will play host at the three-day MIT Winter Invitational, December 5-7.

Water Polo

The water polo team finished their season with 15 wins and were ranked as high as fourth nationally. Junior Ory Tasman ’16 and Kale Rogers ’16 were named to the 2014 Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Northern Division All-Conference second team. Tasman broke the MIT program record and single season record for goals earlier this year.

More News (via MIT Athletics)

 

 

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MIT1

Co-captain Justin Wallace ’15 ran for 1,425 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2014. Images via DAPER.

Update: The MIT Engineers football team’s record-breaking season concluded on Saturday, November 29, with a 59-0 loss to Wesley College in the second round of the 2014 NCAA Division III Football Championship tournament. The 2014 team set a program record with 10 wins, won their first New England Football Conference (NEFC) title, made their first appearance in the NCAA tournament, and were ranked in the top 25 of the American Football Coaches Association poll for the first time.

For more information, read recaps of the Engineers’ second-round loss to Wesley and the team’s first-round win over Husson, which featured a last-second 38-yard field goal from Tucker Cheyne ’17 and a game-winning touchdown in overtime from wide receiver Seve Esparrago ’16.

MIT isn’t known as a sports powerhouse, but the Institute football team is receiving national attention. The undefeated Engineers (10-0), who play in the second round of NCAA tournament on Saturday, have been featured in the Wall Street JournalYahoo!, and ESPN.

Are you new to—or a few years removed from—MIT football? No problem! Consider this a crib sheet on all things MIT football. You’ll be an Engineers expert before Saturday’s kickoff.

The game: MIT Engineers versus Wesley College Wolverines (10-1), NCAA Division III Football Championship tournament, second round.

Kickoff: Saturday, November 29, noon, Miller Stadium, Dover, Delaware. (If MIT wins, they will play the winner of Johns HopkinsHobart in the second round on Saturday, December 6.)

How to watch/listen:

Tailgate: Fans attending Saturday’s game are invited to an MIT alumni tailgate, beginning at 10:00 a.m., beneath a large MIT banner in the tailgating area near Miller Stadium. Beverages and snacks will be provided, and MIT fans and alumni are encouraged to wear Engineers gear. RSVP for the tailgate to see who else may be attending.

Social media: Follow the Alumni Association, MIT Athletics, and NCAA Division III football on Twitter. Share your excitement using the hashtags #GoTech and #NCAAD3.

The Team 

MIT2

Co-captains Peter Williams ’15 (11) and Brad Goldsberry ’15 (21).

The 10-0 Engineers set a team record for wins and earned their first-ever New England Football Conference (NEFC) title. In their first NCAA playoff game in program history, MIT defeated host Husson University, 27-20, on November 22. The Engineers secured the victory thanks to Esparrago’s game-winning touchdown, plus key defensive plays from  Matt Iovino ’17 Anthony Emberley ’17, and Cameron Wagar ’15

Their regular seasons victories included a 34-29 win over Endicott, which gave the Engineers sole possession of first place, and a 35-34 win over Western New England, preserved by a blocked extra point by Emberley in the game’s final minute. While the undefeated seasons was unprecedented, the team’s success was not unexpected. 2014 was the Engineers’ third winning season in a row and last year’s team was featured in the Boston Globe.

Fifth-year Head Coach Chad Martinovich was selected as the NEFC Coach of the Year and a record 12 Engineers earned All-NEFC Honors, including Offensive Player of the Year Justin Wallace ’15, Offensive Lineman of the Year Elliot Tobin ’17, and Defensive Rookie of the Year Mitch Turley ’18. Eight more players were named to the All-NEFC first and second teams. [View the full roster.]

The Players

MIT3

Co-captain Cameron Wagar ’15

Running back Wallace is MIT’s all-time leading in career rushing yards (4,425) and touchdowns (46). In 2014, he ran for 1,425 yards and 16 touchdowns, including 261 yards and a MIT-record six touchdowns in a 55-37 win over Maine Maritine. He rushed for 144 yards in the win over Husson.

Quarterback Peter Williams ’15 threw for 1,761 yards and 18 touchdowns, including a five-touchdown performance in a 52-20 win over Nichols. He is MIT’s all-time leader in career passing yards (5,491) and touchdowns (26). He passed for 291 yard and two touchdowns in the first-round victory.

Williams’ receiving corps includes Brad Goldsberry ’15, who had 36 catches and is MIT’s all-time leading receiver (191), and two more Engineers who finished the regular season with more than 20 receptions: Esparrago (39) and Nathan Varady  ’16 (20).

On defense, linebacker Wagar led the team with 76 regular seasons tackles plus one sack and one interception. Emberley added 70 tackles, four sacks, and two forced fumbles, including 13 tackles and a sack in a 28-18 win over Pomona-Pitzer. Mitch Turley and Kodiak Brush ’17 each finished with more than 40 tackles, and defensive backs Rob Disanto ’18 and Ryan Karnish ’17 tied for the time lead in interceptions (2). [View all 2014 stats.]

The opponent: The 10-1 Wesley Wolverines scored 42 first quarter points en route to a 52-7 victory over Hampden-Sydney in the tournament’s first round. Quarterback Joe Callahan passed for 336 yards and five touchdowns in the playoff win. On defense, the Wolverines held Hampden-Sydney to only 52 rushing yards and six different Wesley players had an interception.

Trivia: Did you know?

  • MIT played in perhaps the  first playoff game in college football history, losing to Williams, 18-10, in 1885.
  • The Engineers, then known as the Techmen, won back-to-back Northeastern Intercollegiate Football Association (NIFA) league titles in 1887-1888.
  • The modern era of MIT football dates back to the formation of a club team in 1978 that later became part of NCAA Division III in 1988.
  • MIT’s football alumni includes a Rhodes Scholar (Darcy Prather ’91), a Marshall Scholar (Brad Gray ’98), 11 NCAA Post-Graduate Scholars, and 38 Academic All-Americans.

 

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Team14-03

The undefeated 2014 MIT football team. Image via DAPER.

When the words “MIT” and “football” are mentioned together, the conversation rarely focuses on the Institute’s football team. More than likely, it’s about MIT’s hacking escapades at the 1982 Harvard-Yale game, which featured a six-foot exploding weather balloon near the 50-yard line.

But the narrative has changed during the football team’s record-setting 2014 season. The MIT squad finished the regular season a perfect 9–0—the first undefeated season in team history—and will play in the NCAA Division III Football Championship tournament for the first time.

The Engineers will play Maine’s Husson University Eagles (8–1) in their opening round game on Saturday, November 22, at noon, in Bangor, Maine. MIT’s surprising season has not gone unnoticed—the squad was featured in an article in the Wall Street Journal and a video profile on CBS News.

Come back to Slice of MIT on Friday for a full game preview and details on how you can watch the game. Until then, check out a condensed timeline of the strange history of MIT football, which includes an 88-year winless streak, an ugliest man competition, and borrowed orange uniforms. (All information via back issues of The Techan October 2002 article in MIT News, and DAPER’s football record book.)

Football_Tech_1979

The modern era of MIT football began with the formation of the MIT Football Club in 1978. Image via The Tech.

  • 1881: The MIT football team, nicknamed the Techmen, defeats Exeter College, 2-0 for the first victory in Institute history.
  • 1885: MIT trounces Amherst, 80-0, to tie Williams College for the Northeastern Intercollegiate Football Association (NIFA) league title. In perhaps the first playoff game in college football history, MIT loses to Williams, 18-10.
  • 1886: MIT loses to Yale, 96-0.
  • 1887-1888: MIT wins back-to-back NIFA league titles.
  • 1890:  With two games left, the football season is cancelled due to injuries.
  • 1901: MIT President Henry S. Pritchett holds a controversial student vote that eliminates the football program by a two-vote margin (119-117).
  • 1901, cont.: The inaugural Technology Field Day, an MIT tradition for more than 60 years, takes place. The freshmen versus sophomores football game—coached by upperclassmen—becomes its signature event.
  • 1939: A non-varsity Junior-Senior team forms, plays four games, and Ms. Virginia Jewell is crowned “MIT Football Queen” before a football dance.
  • 1941: The non-varsity team disbands after two seasons.
  • 1966: A student survey indicates a desire for intercollegiate football, but the MIT Athletic Board votes unanimously against adding an MIT team.
  • 1978: The MIT football club forms and joins the National Club Football Conference (NCFC), thanks to the efforts of players including Walt Crosby ’81, Bruce Wrobel ’79, and Gary Spletter ’79.
  • 1978, cont.: The Rochester Institute of Technology drops their football program, and the MIT club purchases their football equipment and uniforms for $2,000. The team wears orange and white jerseys during the 1978 season.
  • 1978, cont.: A crowd of 2,000 attends the club’s only home game, held during Homecoming Weekend. The Engineers loses to Siena College, 30-14, and the winner of MIT’s Ugliest Man on Campus contest is honored at halftime. The team finishes the season 0-6.
  • 1987: The NCFC disbands following the season. The club transitions to a varsity program and later joins the NCAA Division III.
  • 1988: The Engineers win their first varsity game of the NCAA era, beating Stonehill, 29-7.
  • 2013: The team goes 6-4, tying a team record for wins, and posts back-to-back winning seasons (5-4 in 2012) for the first time in 124 years.
  • 2014: The Engineers finish the regular season 9-0 and win their first NEFC title. The team will play in the NCAA Division III Football Championship tournament on November 22.

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 Would-be entrepreneurs often look for that aha moment for their next great idea. Founder of Jolt Sensor Ben Harvatine ’12 could have done without his.

Harvatine’s moment came as the result of a serious knock to the head during wrestling practice at MIT.

“Between dehydration and repeated knocks to the head, I didn’t know why I was dizzy,” he shares. Though he had suffered concussions before, this one left him feeling sick for months after. “I mostly hid in my room with the lights off. I couldn’t handle light and noises,” he says.

Several months after the injury, Harvatine took 2.671 Bio Instrumentation Lab. The class includes a project called Go Forth and Measure that instructs students to take measurements on something that interests them. Harvatine knew just what to measure.

He created a device that measures head movement as a way to identify concussions before symptoms occur, so athletes can take the proper steps to address their injury.

“The only thing worse than a concussion happening, is not knowing it’s happening,” Harvatine says.

Harvatine looked to his wrestling gear to help design the device.

The many ways the sensor can be worn. Photo: Jolt Sensors

The many ways the sensor can be worn. Photo: Jolt Sensor

“I threw a bunch of accelerometers on my wresting head gear. It was the first proof of concept that this could be something useful,” he says. These accelerometers worked to collect data on movement as well as impact, helping to identify a concussion.

Harvatine kept working on this proof of concept and launched Jolt Sensor in 2013. He envisioned the sensors helping a range of athletes, specifically young athletes whose development make concussions more dangerous. With the help of former classmate Seth Berg ’14, Harvatine designed a new sensor that can be worn by most athletes.

The new sensor is small—about the size of an iPod shuffle—and clips onto the wearer’s head gear—whether it’s a helmet or a headband. Much like the original prototype, the sensor collects data on movement, but now works in conjunction with a smartphone app. Based on the data collected, the app will alert users of a possible concussion.

“We look for trends—can you see a kid taking repetitive impacts? Can you pick up on a cognitive decline before the kid starts showing concussive symptoms? We believe there is big power behind our data,” he explains.

Harvatine hopes athletes will soon be wearing the sensors. Jolt Sensor recently completed a successful Kickstarter campaign and is receiving support from alumni-founded MassChallenge and MIT Venture Mentoring Service.

In addition to mentoring support, Harvatine credits his Go Forth and Measure instructor, Barbara Hughey PhD ’89 for the push to pursue his idea.

“It was the positive experience through that project that drove me to try to do something with it later,” he says.

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Solve for x: two sailboats cruise up and down the New England coast all summer, spending one night each at any of the region’s approximately 3,900 islands. The odds that the two boats, in a 24-week season, will drop anchor off the same island are 1 in x.

10-9-14 x dimension

X Dimension, the 43′ yacht gifted to MIT by David Collins ’59.

David Collins ’59 estimated the odds at a million to one. But he had a serendipitous moment in the middle of August when his stately sailboat, Next Dimension, pulled into Camp Island, near Stonington, Maine. Soon after, an old friend came along and dropped anchor for the night alongside him.

The old friend was Collins’s former sailboat: X Dimension, a 43-foot ocean racing yacht that he gifted to MIT in 2011.

Collins, best known for his pioneering work on barcode technology, has a good eye for detail. As he approached Camp Island that afternoon, he spotted X Dimension’s unmistakable red hue, then spied its familiar sail number. It was uncanny.

“It’s not exactly Times Square up there,” Collins says. “It was highly coincidental.”

After both boats anchored, Collins boarded a skiff and motored over to greet the crew of his former yacht. On board X Dimension, three MIT alumni and a former MIT staff member were relaxing after the day’s sail. Captain Eric Brown ’81 and Bonny Kellermann ’72 welcomed Collins aboard.

“Of all the harbors in the world!” says Kellermann, who was sailing on a three-day leg of a two-week long excursion offered to all MIT students, alumni, and staff. “It was a fabulous experience. On that leg, there were the three of us who were alums, one current grad student, one current undergrad, one staff member, and one guest.”

The mix of students, alumni, staff, and friends of MIT on board suited Collins’s vision perfectly in making his 2011 gift.

“I learned to sail at MIT and I wanted to give back to this community an experience that had been a benefit to me there. Sailing’s ability to clear your mind over a short period of time when you have a lot of stuff to think about gives you some balance as a student. There has to be a balance.”

While thousands of MIT students have taken to the six generations of Tech Dinghies since the Jack Wood Sailing Pavilion was built in 1935, for some the lure of deeper water beckons. X Dimension, at 43-feet long, satisfies that craving.

Next Dimension viewed from X Dimension at Camp Island, ME. Photo: Bonny Kellerman '72.

Next Dimension viewed from X Dimension at Camp Island, ME. Photo: Bonny Kellermann ’72.

Sailing Master Fran Charles, who first raced against Collins in the 1970s as a teenager in Scituate, estimates that over a thousand students and at least 20 alumni have sailed on X Dimension in its first three years as a vessel in MIT’s 100-boat fleet. “It’s essentially booked for all trips we offer, just about every weekend from spring till November,” Charles says.

“It’s a different style of sailing than what we can teach students in the Charles River,” he says. “They learn navigation, teamwork, responsibility, all of which are important in bluewater sailing.”

Collins learned those skills on the 1957 version of Tech Dinghies, the first ones built of fiberglass. “They were rugged and tough, and they had to be. You didn’t want to flip over in the Charles back then. You didn’t know what was in the water.”

Collins went on to buy his first boat in 1966, and he has upgraded several times. He bought X Dimension in 1991, sight unseen, after his previous boat sank in Marion Harbor during Hurricane Bob. Collins loved racing the boat—with it he earned first place in the 2002 Edgartown Yacht Club race and the 2011 Vineyard Cup Regatta.

When he came across X Dimension at Camp Island, Collins was pleased to find such variety in its crew.

“That’s one of the great things about sailing,” he says. “It cuts across every demographic group. To see seven people on board with such different relationships to MIT isn’t unusual at all.”

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