MIT_aerialEarlier this year, U.S. News & World Report ranked MIT among the best graduate schools in the United States, including best engineering school for the 28th consecutive year. And now MIT has extended its top rank to entire world: The QS World University Rankings named MIT the world’s top university for the 4th consecutive year, and placed the Institute in the top spot in 11 other categories.

The QS World University Rankings are annual global report published by Quacquarelli Symonds, an organization specializing in education and study abroad, and their ranking system relies heavily on academic reputation garnered from a global survey. In addition to its 12 first-place rankings, MIT placed in the top 10 in 10 additional categories:

  • World University: 1st
  • Accounting and Finance: 2nd
  • Architecture: 1st
  • Art and Design: 2nd
  • Biological Science: 3rd
  • Business and Management Studies: 6th
  • Chemical Engineering: 1st
  • Chemistry: 1st
  • Civil and Structural Engineering: 1st
  • Computer Science and Information Systems: 1st
  • Earth and Marine Science: 4th
  • Economics: 1st
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering: 1st
  • Engineering—Mineral and Mining: 2nd
  • Environmental Studies: 3rd
  • Linguistics: 1st
  • Material Science: 1st
  • Mathematics: 3rd
  • Philosophy: 10th
  • Physics and Astronomy: 1st
  • Psychology: 9th
  • Statistical and Operational Research: 1st

The QS World University Rankings methodology consists of six categories: academic peer review (40 percent); faculty/student ratio (20); citations per faculty (20); employer reputation (10); international student ratio (5); and international staff ratio (5). According to QS, MIT earned perfect scores in academic reputation, employer reputation, faculty/student ratio, international faculty, and citations per faculty.

Last year, MIT ranked high in U.S. News & World’s undergraduate U.S. rankings, placing MIT first in 12 categories, including Best Undergraduate Engineering Program, and in the top five in seven more, including Best Undergraduate Business Program (2nd) and Most Innovative School (3rd).

Read a Slice of MIT article from August 2015 to see where MIT ranks in the more untraditional categories, including Most Intense College and Smartest Students. Share your thoughts on the college rankings hysteria in the comments below, or on Facebook and Twitter.


Figure 5: Underwear Color by Department

Figure 5: Underwear Color by Department

Guest blogger: Lydia Andreyevna Krasilnikova ’14, MEng ’16

This excerpt from Admissions blogger Lydia Krasilnikova’s recent post points to an extraordinary flurry of analysis that documents what color underwear is most common by dorms, gender, day of week, class year,  and department.  With multiple charts and graphs, this blog post is a blast of campus culture.

A lot of socializing at MIT happens on the dorm mailing lists. One of my favorite mailing lists is Burton-Conner’s, not because of the content of the mailing list (I’ve never been on it), but because of the excellent barrier to emailing it: it is tradition, a very important rule, and a sign of respect to sign emails to the Burton-Conner dormwide social mailing list with the color of the underwear you are wearing.

Figure 1a: Underwear Color by Undergraduate Dorm

Figure 1a: Underwear Color by Undergraduate Dorm

This rule is a huge boon to those of us who are data-curious and kind of creepy. All MIT undergraduates, even those who have never lived in Burton-Conner, have a wealth of data on the self-reported underwear colors of people who have emailed the entire undergraduate population, which includes Burton-Conner. Reasons for emailing all undergraduates include event announcements for student groups and departments, flame wars, and occasionally lost items. In contrast, the kinds of emails sent within a dorm mailing list include, at the top of my inbox right now, parties, house meetings, and foodmobs to restaurants in Boston; decisions about when to turn off the heating for spring, invitations to test food experiments, and a memo to the person who left their clothes in the middle washer; and requests for empty gallon jugs, superglue, cooking scales, male-to-male audio cables, MIDI cables, 120V twist lock connectors, funnels, and hairdryers.

At the end of one IAP, from BMF and Destiny kitchens, my room, Cory’s room, and Random Hall desk, I downloaded and parsed all the emails that had been sent to my MIT email address. I extracted the underwear colors from the emails and I retrieved data (this part by hand, not with a script) on the people who had sent them from the MIT people directory. 417 days later I had a very bad headache, so I made pie charts from the parsed data and traced and colored them in BMF kitchen…

Beyond pie charts, we get to formulas:

There are lots of parallels between MIT and Hogwarts. Both are magical and occasionally terrifying….But we don’t have a sorting hat, so I made a sorting hat, using the most comprehensive, unbiased data available to me (which is unfortunately neither comprehensive nor unbiased). We are going to use Bayes’ Theorem, which I think, based on my 5.59 years of experience, is the very favorite theorem of the computer science part of the course 6 (electrical engineering and computer science) department and possibly also course 7 (biology)…

Bayes’ Theorem allows us to calculate what we don’t know from what we do. Formally, for an event or truth A and an event or truth B, Bayes’ Theorem is as follows:

Pr(A|B)  =  Pr(B|A) Pr(A)

If you were wearing purple underwear, for example, we could calculate the probability of you living in Simmons.

Pr(Simmons|purple)  = Pr(purple|Simmons) Pr(Simmons)

Read the colorful blog post.



Sanjay Manandhar ’89, SM ‘91 first got the idea for his startup while commuting on the London Underground in the 1990s.  “There were lots of beautiful posters everywhere. I could just tell they were going to go digital someday,” he says. Manandhar wanted to provide a solution that would help any company—big or small—move beyond images printed on paper to utilize the digital ads he imagined. “I wanted people to be able to manage content for themselves easily,” he says.

To bring this idea to fruition, Manandhar left London in 2002 and moved back to Cambridge to tap his MIT connections. “I attended a demo at the Media Lab and started talking with the student leading it,” he says. Manandhar gave that student, David Crow ’03, his business card. Months later, Crow became employee number one when Manandhar launched Aerva, a service that enables real-time interactivity between digital displays and content managers, allowing users to manage digital displays remotely with just a browser.

Displays powered by Aerva in the New Zealand–the Auckland Airport.

Displays powered by Aerva in the New Zealand–the Auckland Airport.

That means that that huge digital display you see in Times Square could be managed by someone on their smartphone, thousands of miles away. Aerva serves clients as big as Anheuser-Busch—helping the company manage interactive displays on their coolers—to small companies like ImprovBoston, which uses Aerva to manage just one display in their foyer.

After ten years of business, Manandhar recently decided to sell Aerva. That’s when he was connected with MIT’s Industrial Liaison Program (ILP), which helps to create relationships between MIT and corporations, and the Startup Exchange (STEX)–an initiative of ILP–which connects these corporations to startups. “I always knew about ILP while I was at MIT, but figured it was just for big companies, not for startups like us,” Manandhar says. Working with ILP and STEX, Manandhar made connections and gained knowledge on the process of finding a buyer for Aerva. “It’s a great opportunity. I metwith companies I never would have connected with otherwise,” he says. Manandhar began talks with companies that he met through a STEX event, but ultimately decided to sell to a different company. Manandhar says that STEX is beneficial to Aerva as the company continues to operate independently despite acquisition.  “It’s important to understand how these other companies work,” he says.

STEX workshops are held frequently on campus and around the country.

STEX workshops are held frequently on campus and around the country.

STEX lead Trond Undheim says insight and connections are what STEX strives for. “We have over 200 large member companies that are interested in startups—STEX is a vehicle for those companies to connect,” Undheim explains. This is done through events and opportunities where member companies can outline the type of startup they’re looking to work with. Undheim says that the ILP has been facilitating these kinds of relationship for 67 years while the newly-launched STEX is helping to make the process even easier for startups. The easiest way for alumni to begin taking advantage of STEX?  Add your company to their database of over 1,100 MIT affiliated startups.


Michael Cheung_6_crop

Guest Blogger: Michael Cheung ’16

Guest Blogger: Michael Cheung ’16 is a contributor to the admissions blogs and recently posted “10 (more) reasons why MIT is beautiful,” a follow up to an original post naming 10 reasons in April 2014. Michael, a senior studying Course 2, notes that although MIT is not often considered the most beautiful campus, he has found endless beauty both outside and inside the classroom.

I took Documentary Photography last semester as a HASS, and the most important lesson I took from that class is to always have a camera with me. I started photography as a hobby in high school and it’s become a big part of how I de-stress. Always having a camera slung over my shoulder means I’m always trying to look for interesting angles and hidden beauty around me. Which probably has some metaphorical significance as well.

When you’re an MIT student bogged down in endless psets and exams, it can be very easy to take for granted (or ignore) the beauty around us. The photographic series on my blog was basically intended to poke some holes in this bubble and remind myself (and others) just how beautiful Cambridge/Boston is year-round.

  1. Because even when you’re neck deep in a 2.006 thermal-fluids pset, there’s light at the end of the tunnel Mass. Ave. bridgeMichael Cheung_1_edit2
  2. When the CPW weather machine finally kicks in, there’s nothing like itMichael Cheung_3_crop
  3. Because I get to see this view every day walking home after classMichael Cheung_2
  4. Because in between classes, I might eat lunch in Killian CourtMichael Cheung_4_crop
  5. Because engineering can be colorfulMichael Cheung_5_crop

I think photography is an analogue to mechanical engineering. As a designer, I’m always thinking about the objects and structures around me and thinking about why they were designed the way they were. As a photographer, I’m always trying to imagine framings and interesting lighting situations. My favorite part of Course 2 (and MIT in general) is how hands-on it is; aside from the lecture-based courses which give us a strong foundation in the first principles of mechanical engineering, we also have a great variety of project-based classes to apply these principles.

Using the experience I’ve gained from these project classes at MIT, I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to contribute to essentially what were “dream engineering positions” for me outside of MIT, ranging from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to Apple’s iPhone Product Design team.

Cameras used: Leica Q, Sony RX100 III point-and-shoot, and iPhone 6. See more of Michael’s photos.


From left to right: Katy Gero '13, Larisa Berger '12 and Tanya Liu SM '14

From left to right: Katy Gero ’13, Larisa Berger ’12 and Tanya Liu SM ’14

What better way to celebrate the 20th anniversary of National Poetry Month than learning how three MIT alumnae are merging technology and art?

At MIT there is a hunger for poetry, says Erica Funkhouser, poet and lecturer in the Comparative Media Studies/Writing department. “Poems are elegant equations, supple helixes, hydraulic masterpieces and heat-seeking missiles. They require the discipline to resist the right answer, the conventional destination and the comfort of certainty. If we get the words right, our poem will make something new. Isn’t that inventiveness entirely in keeping with an MIT education?”

And it is. This spirit has led these alumnae to curate their own hybrid identities as both artist and techie:

4.8.16 Alumna poet Larisa

Photo: Jeff Lieberman

Larisa Berger ’12
Programming the Abstract

Larisa Berger has been told “you must write pretty poetic code” countless times, and she admits that she does in a variety of ways. Berger is as intrigued by the abstract and beautiful nature of poetry as she is by the structure of code. After studying computer science and writing at MIT, she is emerging as a coder, writer, and poet.

“How do we keep writing engaging in the age of the Internet?” This question has led her to create a thesis of 67 poems printed on cards, an ode to the original ways of computer programming, and an app that uses erasure poetry.

Berger’s passion for language is also personal. She cites her father’s experience with dementia and his experience of losing words as a catalyst for wanting to explore language. Here is an excerpt of her poem “For Mary” here:

“We reach for details as if this sifting

will make sense of a new reality.

This came before that:

Dad stopped breathing before

his heart stopped beating.

I’m not sure why it matters, but it does”

Tanya Liu SM ’14
Scientific Inspiration  4.8.16 Alumna Poet Tanya

Tanya Liu finds inspiration for her poetry in scientific facts. In her piece “Medical Examiner’s Office / Miami Dade County / June 2005” (also in audio) Liu paints a picture of healthcare. Liu, currently a consultant in Boston, is also finding her own identity as a poet. “Even though I don’t have a background in poetry, I still feel at home in the poetry world,” she says.

Her interests bridge the two fields. “I like to write about science that I find artistically stimulating,” she says. Liu hopes to help people to better understand science.

Liu is the recipient of Lucille Clifton Scholarship for the Poetry Program at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers and has been published in Spillway and The Broken Plate, along with scientific journals for her neuroscience research.


4.8.16_Alumna Poet Katy

Katy Gero ’13 
Engineering Art

Katy Gero is drawn to both writing and engineering. At MIT she chose engineering as her main focus, but also took a poetry course.

“You can make connections between engineering and poetry. Engineering is about problem-solving and writing poetry is the same,” she says. Poetry is about making connections with the world around her, she says. Her work as an engineer, for the MIT Media Lab’s Soofa, which designs smart furniture for the outdoors, also connects her to nature, technology, and people.

Gero her poetry focuses on her experience of being a woman in a male-dominated field like engineering and on technology and memory. She has also created a visceral poetry experience using video and a reading software that allows readers to skim large amounts of text by focusing their eyes on one word at a time.

Experience this poem below:

400wpm from Katy Gero on Vimeo.



Nelson's Island National Wildlife Refuge, Newbury Massachusetts (© Rowland Williams).

Nelson’s Island National Wildlife Refuge, Newbury Massachusetts (© Rowland Williams).

Rowland Williams ’72 is a photographer living in Amesbury, MA. View more photos on his website. View more alumni via the Photo of the Week category


Jawaharlal Nehru at MIT campus

Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, visited MIT campus in 1949 and met with Indian students and MIT President James Killian. Image: Truman Library

In fall 2014, more undergraduate students from India applied to MIT than any non-US country. And MIT’s Alumni Directory lists more than 1,300 MIT alumni who currently live in India, nearly half of whom graduated in the past 15 years.

While the large number of Indian-born MIT applicants, students, and alumni is a more recent phenomenon, the impact of India-born MIT students is not, especially in their home country. Author Ross Bassett traces these stories in his book, The Technological Indian, which examines the role MIT-educated Indian engineers have played in the technological-revolution of the 20th century.

“I was interested in how India had developed technologically, specifically with the IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology) that were formed in 1950s and 1960s,” Bassett says. “Those Institutes were modeled after MIT and became a really important anchor for India’s development.”

In his research, Bassett combed through MIT Commencement programs and MIT annual alumni registers to create a database of more than 1,000 Indian-born MIT alumni who graduated before 2000. Most were graduate-degree alumni who graduated with an engineering degree. In total, he spoke to more than 200 MIT alumni and family members.

Bassett’s research also indicated that early MIT Indian students attending MIT were largely from a middle class and well-off background, whose parents studied liberal arts and law at British universities like Oxford and Cambridge.

“These parents wanted their children’s future lined with technology rather than law, and making connections with US rather than Britain,” he says. “India wanted to get out from under the British shadow. They wanted to pursue technology that would not involve the British, and engineering in the U.S. and Cambridge seemed like the best choice.”


Almitra Patel, the first woman from India to earn an MIT engineering degree, and author Ross Bassett.

The Technological Indian mainly focuses on MIT’s Indian alumni post-graduation, but it include facts and anecdotes from than 130 years of MIT-India history.

“Prominent Indian families sent their heirs to MIT to prepare them to run family businesses,” Bassett says. “Indians used MIT as a vehicle for technological development in India.”

  • MIT’s first Indian-born student, Keshav Bhat, was enrolled at MIT from 1882–1884 and again in 1890. “Way earlier than I had imagined,” Bassett says.
  • The first Indian-born MIT alumna was Almitra Patel ’58, SM ’59. “Her father had a grinding wheel business and paid for her MIT education, but he made her sign a bond committing her to work for the family business when she was done.”
  • Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, visited MIT campus in 1949 and met with Indian students and MIT President James Killian.
  • Deep Joshi SM ’77, SM ’77, who attended MIT on scholarship, is a well-known Indian social worker who was awarded Asia’s prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2009.

“Many alumni told me it was the best years of their life,” Bassett says. “MIT still has a very strong place in the mind of Indians who are interested in technology. It’s really served as a model for the country.”


A key theme of MIT’s 1916 campus centennial celebrations is how the founding building itself contributed to the core of MIT’s way of being, learning, and building community. At the March 30-31 conference, Designing Places for Inventing the Future: The Campus—Then, Now, and Next, the speakers probed factors such as the innovative use of reinforced concrete as a building material. Yet the lead idea is not materials but how connected buildings unify people and ideas.

“’Architecture is your destiny’ is a phrase that could describe our 1916 building,” says Professor Mark Jarzombek, who also noted that MIT’s Bosworth building, also called the Main Group, was the largest concrete structure in the world at the time.  The large, unified building topped by a massive dome offered a monumental face to the City of Boston, and its corridors connected academic spaces and student residences. The architecture plan itself promoted frequent conversations among faculty and students in different disciplines and promoted a community of learning.

Architect Christian Veddler describes the importance of the diagonal corridors that link indoor and outdoor spaces at the Singapore University of Technology and Design, which was developed in collaboration with MIT.

Architect Christian Veddler describes the importance of the diagonal corridors that link indoor and outdoor spaces at the Singapore University of Technology and Design, which was developed in collaboration with MIT.

“The academic corridor was a kind of compression zone…You could meet the president, faculty, and  students for discussions. It was designed as a social connection,” says Jarzombek.

The conference also pointed to similar principles in contemporary academic buildings with MIT connections such as the Skolkovo Innovative Center near Moscow and the Singapore University of Technology and Design.

Architect David Adjaye, who will serve a campus residency at MIT this spring as a McDermott Award in the Arts winner, designed the Moscow School of Management Skolkovo, located near a graduate university established in collaboration with MIT. Adjaye created a circular central building, about 1,000 feet in diameter, that houses classrooms on the edges, collaborative and community space in the center, and four buildings constructed on top to provide student housing, a recreation center, a hotel, and offices. The central disk, the heart of the school, serves the needs of a dense community by means of “infinite corridors” that connect everyone in the community.

Another architect, Christian Veddler, presented his design for connected buildings of the Singapore university headed by Institute Professor Thomas Magnanti, who serves as president, and was developed in collaboration with MIT. Veddler used linked, diagonal corridors to connect the buildings and natural gathering places. Outside, the corridors also run along the perimeters of the buildings to create a permeable façade that is “always open, shaded, and naturally ventilated.” Corridors unite people and create meeting places suitable for a tropical climate.

In a session on the Virtual Campus, MIT Vice President for Open Learning Sanjay Sarma asked a pivotal question: “In an era of MOOCs and global learning, what does it mean to be on campus?” While the campus environment remains special, he says, “teams, ideas, and peer learning happen both on site and online. For many, online creates opportunities that would otherwise not be available.”

Anant Agarwal, CEO of edX, said education needs to learn to innovate faster to keep people continuously learning while they are employed or otherwise engaged. He noted that MIT’s new Micromaster’s Credential in Supply Chain Management is a step toward flexible, continuous learning.

Learn more about the conference, Designing Places for Inventing the Future and upcoming events, such as the April 12 symposium Beyond 2016—MIT’s Frontiers of the Future (register online by midnight!) and May 7 Moving Day festivities, that are part of MIT 2016: Celebrating a Century in Cambridge.



Paula Hammond ’84, PhD ’93 on the TED stage.

There’s a new weapon for fighting cancer and it’s about one one-hundredth the size of a human hair. This was the message of Paula Hammond ’84, PhD ’93—head of the Department of Chemical Engineering—on the TED stage as she discussed her work at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research where she is developing an entirely new method to treat cancer using nanoparticles.

Hammond was one of five speakers featured in TED Talks: Science and Wonder, a partnership series between TED and PBS which recently aired on TV. TED is all about ideas worth spreading, and the work that Hammond is doing certainly is.

In her talk, Hammond explained how manipulating molecules on a nanometer scale can lead to very big results. “We create tiny packages known as nanoparticles that we design to deliver drugs directly to a tumor when injected in the blood stream,” says Hammond. The nanoparticles are layered so that the drug is on the inside and polymer layers surround the drug to prevent the body’s immune system from detecting and expelling the unknown object.

In addition to Hammond, the episode featured other speakers and short films, showcasing an artist’s portrayal of climate change, how science and art converge in 3D at Pixar, a mysterious discovery about camels, and an excerpt from neurologist Oliver Sacks’s last video interview.

The show was a huge success, according to Juliet Blake, producer of TED Talks Live and TED’s curator of special projects. “I was keen to produce a science program that was very accessible for people,” says Blake. “I think Paula’s talk is amazing and it really helped explain to people the use of nanotechnology and the work that she does.”

Hammond was thrilled to be offered the opportunity to showcase her work on this platform. While TED is primarily web based, getting nearly a million video views on TED Talks per day, the partnership with PBS, a public network that reaches nearly all households in America, expands the audience and most importantly, the impact.

“Sharing the work we are doing on cancer to as broad an audience as possible is one of the key motivations for doing the TED talk,” says Hammond. “I was especially excited that it would have a TV audience because I hope to reach everyone—including those who have cancer or loved ones who face or have faced cancer, the many Americans who have a chance to learn about how chemistry and engineering can play a role in human health, and the young people who may have a chance to be inspired to study science in the hope of having an impact.”

The TED Talks series, which is a co-production of TED and the Independent Television Service (ITVS) and is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), will have additional programs on war and peace (May 30) and on education (September 13) on PBS.


MIT is known for looking forward, but this year the Institute is looking back to celebrate a century in Cambridge. MIT’s big move happened 100 years ago, but much of the MIT culture we recognize today was already in place at that time. Students took part in elaborate pranks, though they weren’t yet known as hacks. The Tech, Technique, and Technology Review were already in print, and popular Courses like mechanical engineering were well established at the school. But some things, of course, were different: The Department of Metallurgy had yet to transform into the Department of Materials Science, Walker Memorial was just a cornerstone, and what would become Maseeh Hall was still the Riverbank Court Hotel. Curious to know more about the era? Follow @MIT1916, a historical Twitter account that shares daily dispatches of MIT life 100 years ago. Here’s what to expect:

In 1916, a celebration was in order to honor MIT’s big move. The best way to celebrate? Pageantry. The move was marked by an elaborate ceremonial barge that crossed the Charles River, a play called The Masque of Power, a pageant, and several other events. In the months leading up the events, The Tech was filled with calls for students to take part in the pageant, get sized for their costumes, and learn dances for the Groups
While many MIT groups that existed in 1916 are still around today—like the track team and tennis team—some no longer exist, like the Wireless Society. In 1916, news at MIT often touted the annual Freshman versus Sophomore track meet or highlighted MIT athletics victories with special attention to those over Harvard and other and World News
While MIT celebrated the joyous occasion of the move, global news remained tense during a world war and an election season. World news often focused on the European front, while national news highlighted the Republican primary battle and the run up to the 1916 election, which Woodrow Wilson won. With the right to vote for women still years off, news and editorials occasionally featured women suffragists making the case for the rights at MIT and in editorial columns in The here are opportunities to join the celebration:
April 7–9 and 14–16, 7:30 p.m.
Arts: Small Infinities, a play by Professor Alan Brody
Tickets available March 7 from 
Music and Theater Arts

April 12, noon–5:00 p.m.
Symposium: Beyond 2016—MIT’s Frontiers of the Future

April 19
Day of Service, part of the Together in Service Program
Learn more

April 23, 10:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m.
Open House—Under the Dome: Come Explore MIT
Open to the public

May 7
Moving Day
Daylong activities include a Crossing the Charles procession, a pageant, and all-community dance parties.

June 4, 9:00 p.m.–midnight
Toast to Tech

Learn more online: MIT 2016: Celebrating a Century in Cambridge.