Unveiling the New Grad Rat Ring

by Nancy DuVergne Smith on September 9, 2013

in Campus Culture, Remember When...

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.

new grad rat ring design

Tiny symbols bear witness to the past five years.

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.”

presentation of ring design

Ring Committee member Daipan Lee introduced the new design on September 5.

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.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Martin B. Brilliant September 27, 2013 at 9:59 am

I don’t want a ring that has symbols piled on symbols like a medieval portrait. I want a replica of the plain Class of ’54 brass rat I lost a few years ago. Is that asking too much?

They don’t make them like they used to.

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Robert Landley September 30, 2013 at 9:05 am

I’m class of ’67, and at that time the only thing that changed on the Standard Technology Ring was the year on the side. When you got your brass rat, it symbolized your inclusion in the ranks of MIT alumni. It was not intended to be a condensed record of what happended to you, to MIT, and to the world during your years at Tech. The current rings seem to be intended to differentiate the graduating classes from each other instead of symbolizing what was common about an MIT education. Most of the ones I have seen from the last few decades have been bulky compared to the older design, and I know many MIT grads from these eras who do not wear the ring at all.

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Fanny Ho September 30, 2013 at 9:56 pm

Looking at the brass rat that fit my finger, just wonder how could one squeezes all these new symbols onto it and could still be clearly visible. The MIT experience is more than a coffee cup n Dropbox which would follow the graduates in their work life probably. Hope the future designers have more appreciation of leaving blank space for the imagination to blossom, for the fond/torturous memory to roam, and for the infinite possibilities to beacon our calling…,

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