Graduate students and graduate-degree holders are taking part in a ritual long enjoyed by MIT undergraduates—the release of a new version of MIT’s signature ring. The latest design for the grad rat, the first in five years, was introduced September 5, and it is packed with symbols that evoke contemporary MIT life.
The new design was developed by ring committee chair Katia Shtyrkova, SM ’13, now working on her PhD, and six team members who surveyed graduate students and worked with a graphic designer at Balfour, the class-ring company. Together, they hammered out a design that respects MIT traditions while incorporating symbols important to current students.
“MIT has an iconic ring,” Shtyrkova says. Officially called the Standard Technology Ring, the brass rat and grad rat are widely known, even in popular culture. Just ask Tony Stark why he sports his in the Iron Man movies. The ring is recognized in social and professional situations, she says: “I can’t tell you how many people I meet because I wear my ring.”
What symbols were chosen? The students surveyed wanted to commemorate the Higgs boson discovery, so a portion of the CERN logo is reproduced on one shank. In the bezel, pictured above, are “buddy beavers”—three small beavers swimming just behind the traditional beaver, representing the importance of friendships.
What’s essential to MIT students? A coffee cup and an open box represent the number one and two most-cited items in the survey: coffee and Dropbox, the free online storage system founded by Drew Houston ’05, coincidentally the 2013 MIT commencement speaker.
On a more somber note, 4/15, the date of the Boston Marathon bombings, is carved into the traditional tree stump, which bears an MIT police officer’s badge honoring Officer Sean Collier.
Current MIT graduate students and all alumni who have earned graduate degrees can order the new design in a variety of metals; it will be customized to include graduation year, department, and degree. Learn about the symbols and order a ring online.