Tech Reunions

You may have seen hundreds of MIT alums sporting bright red jackets over Tech Reunions weekend. Harder to spot were the 1.5% of them also wearing gray scarves. Who were they?

They were women, but not just any women. These seven graduates from the class of 1963 who returned to campus – Frances Dyro, F. Margaret Hickey, Christina Jansen, Patricia Marzilli, Ruth Nelson, Vicki Peterson, and Joyce Wolf – were celebrating their 50th reunion.

Photo: Darren McCollester.

Photo: Darren McCollester.

To honor these distinguished women, the Association of MIT Alumnae hosted a special reception for them on June 6 in the Margaret Cheney Room overlooking Killian Court. There, AMITA president Sze-Wen Kuo ’73 presented each of seven alumnae with gray scarves to complement their red jackets on reunion weekend.

“When you graduated, MIT was 2.9% female,” said Kuo. “You are our forebears. This year, 48% of the graduating class is women.”

Clearly, the stat impressed. But one alum was quick to add, “Let’s have a bigger celebration when it gets to 50.”

Having hit the half-century milestone, the graduates were encouraged to participate in the Margaret MacVicar Memorial Oral History Project at MIT, an invitation extended to them by class of 2007 graduate Jean Choi.

Choi began her work on the project in a UROP for Professor Margery Resnick, who founded the program in 1990, but has continued to interview alumnae in the years since.

“It’s been a very interesting experience,” Choi said, “interviewing these women about their MIT experience and their lives, and transcribing them for the archives. I didn’t realize how much women went through so that I could be here. I’ve learned a lot of history.”

Housed in the Institute Archives and Special Collections, the women’s histories are available for public viewing and are becoming digitized as well. The oldest graduate interviewed comes from the class of 1922. In all, transcripts from over 30 interviews are available.

“We want to fill in the lacunae about women’s participation at MIT,” Professor Resnick said in an interview with the New York Times about the project. “We not only want to do women who have followed their career line as predicted by MIT…but women who have done different things that might be more interesting, but less visible, in terms of their MIT-ness.”

Thursday afternoon’s reception took place in a treasured space for MIT alumnae. The Margaret Cheney Room is named in honor of an 1882 graduate. After Cheney’s untimely death, MIT’s first alumna and Cheney’s instructor, Ellen Swallow Richards, lobbied the Institute to create a space solely for women to congregate, network, and feel at home.

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While all alumni are invited to Tech Reunions each June, that is not the only reunion around. Increasingly, living groups, sports teams, or other groups are reconnecting through their own self-organized reunions. And the really savvy groups—like Sigma Chi—have a great time on campus and share the experience with alumni worldwide.

Corporate Board President Dan Craig '03 welcomed everyone.

Corporate Board President Dan Craig '03 welcomed everyone with a brief glimpse of life at MIT when Alpha Theta was founded in 1882.

Video, photo, and commentary document Alpha Theta chapter’s three-day reunion April 27-29. You can browse through the experience from an open house at 532 Beacon Street, the chapter’s Boston home for 95 years, to a black-tie banquet at the Westin Copley Place that drew 300 people. See photos and hear talks about the group’s history and future as well as a memorial for Brian D. Robertson ’96, an entrepreneur who died in 2011.

And then it was back to the classroom for Alpha Theta Academy, which featured three alumni and one undergraduate sharing their life experiences. You can watch videos of their talks:

  • John Piotti ’83: Sustainable Local Agriculture in Maine

Piotti shared his 15+ years of experience as a leader of Maine’s recent agricultural renaissance, most recently as executive director of the Maine Farmland Trust.

  • Al Dahya ’05: The Economics and Technology of Solar Power

For the last five years, Dahya has worked for Alpha Theta-founded SunEdison, an early innovator in solar power as a service.

  • Michael Kirtley ’72: OKA!

Kirtley hitchhiked across the Sahara Desert, beginning a career in photojournalism in Europe and Africa. Most recently he co–produced the newly released feature film OKA! shot in the Central African Republic.

  • Gabe Blanchet ’13: Thru–Hiking the Appalachian Trail

He took his sophomore spring semester off to thru–hike the Appalachian Trail. In the process, he raised $11,000 for juvenile diabetes research.

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Tech Night at Pops balloon drop

Tech Night at Pops balloon drop. Photo: Dominick Reuter.

Tech Night at Pops is MIT’s longest-running reunion tradition—115 years and counting!—and perhaps the most beloved. Each year, alumni, graduating students, and guests pack Symphony Hall to hear the Boston Pops conducted by Keith Lockhart. While the musical program changes, one tradition remains constant: the balloon drop set to the accompaniment of “Stars and Stripes Forever.”

If you’ve never seen it, it’s quite something. And a perfect way to prep that patriotic spirit for July 4th. Many thanks to Sandy Laeser (wife of Dick Laeser ’62) for the video.

Of course, once all the balloons have dropped there’s nothing left to do but pop them, right?

MIT Tech TV

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The official photo galleries documenting Tech Reunions as well as the 50th reunion Class of 1962 are now available for your viewing pleasure. As an added bonus, check out some additional shots below and read highlights of the festivities. Enjoy!

Getting down on the dance floor at Toast to Tech.

Getting down on the dance floor at Toast to Tech. Photo by Dominick Reuter.

President Hockfield and audience members at Symphony Hall.

President Hockfield and audience members at Symphony Hall. Photo by Dominick Reuter.

Jaclyn Di Bona and Michael Sapuppo '52 at the Faculty Club with the Class of 1952.

Jaclyn Di Bona and Michael Sapuppo '52 at the Faculty Club with the Class of 1952. Photo by Chris Brown.

There was fun for all ages at the Class of 1997's reunion.

There was fun for all ages at the Class of 1997's reunion. Photo by Michael Basu.

Audience members hold up paper flowers as part of the tribute to President Hockfield during Technology Day.

Audience members hold up paper flowers as part of the tribute to President Hockfield during Technology Day. Photo by Dominick Reuter.

From left: Paul Levy '72, Bonny Kellermann '72, and Duncan Allen '72, leaders of the 40th reunion committee, at the Media Lab Extension on Friday, June 8.

From left: Paul Levy '72, Bonny Kellermann '72, and Duncan Allen '72, leaders of the 40th reunion committee, at the Media Lab Extension on Friday, June 8. Photo by Darren McCollester.

Alumni were up early on Sunday morning for the annual Reunion Row crew race on the Charles.

Alumni were up early on Sunday morning for the annual Reunion Row crew race on the Charles. Photo by Darren McCollester.

 

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Using an 8 inch Dobsonian Reflector Telescope, 1957 classmates Paul Carr (from left), Lee Lancaster, Nelson Disco, and Darrell Briggs enjoy the Transit of Venus. Photo: Kim Balkus.

Using an 8 inch Dobsonian Reflector Telescope, classmates Paul Carr (from left), Lee Lancaster, Nelson Disco, and Darrell Briggs enjoy the Transit of Venus. Photo: Kim Balkus.

The Class of 1957 staged a fabulous pre-reunion gathering in Maine that featured the viewing of the rare Transit of Venus. Here’s the story from Martin Zombeck ’57, PhD ’69, who retired from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics where he was a senior physicist working in X-ray astronomy. He is author of the Handbook of Space Astronomy and Astrophysics.

“Our MIT Class of 1957 held a reunion at the Stage Neck Inn Monday, June 4–Thursday, June 7. I arranged with the Astronomical Society of Northern New England in Kennebunk to send two amateur astronomers to set up a telescope at the Inn to view the transit of Venus, Tuesday, starting at 6:09 p.m. As a back up, they set up an Internet video feed from one of the observatories on Mauna Kea in Hawaii.

Venus transiting the Sun photographed at the Stage Neck Inn at 7:31pm, Tuesday, June 5 through the Dobsonian telescope. The small specks are sunspots. Photo: Lee Lancaster.

Venus transiting the Sun photographed at 7:31 p.m., June 5, through the Dobsonian telescope. The small specks are sunspots. Photo: Lee Lancaster.

“Tuesday was completely overcast for most of the day. Miraculously, the clouds parted a few minutes before the start of the transit and we could view it for almost two hours whereupon the Sun set and it rained.

“My classmates think that I arranged the dramatic parting of the clouds. George Moy suggested that I be nicknamed “Moses.” The next transit of Venus will not occur until 2117. None of us had ever witnessed a transit of Venus before this one.”

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Next week we’ll post photo galleries showcasing all the fun from Tech Reunions, which was held June 7–10. In the meantime, here are some shots to enjoy.

Tiny 'graduate' waits as her mom, Chunguang Wang, receives her SDM degree; dad Zhiyong Wang, pictured, expects his degree next year. Photo: Nancy DuVergne Smith.

Tiny 'graduate' waits as her mom, Chunguang Wang, receives her SDM degree; dad Zhiyong Wang, pictured, expects his degree next year. Photo: Nancy DuVergne Smith.

Graduates capture memories at Commencement.

Graduates capture memories at Commencement. Photo: Darren McCollester.

At the 115th Tech Night at Pops, Professor Marcus Thompson is shown playing the viola as Keith Lockhart conducts..

At the 115th Tech Night at Pops, Professor Marcus Thompson is shown playing the viola as Keith Lockhart conducts. Photo: Dominick Reuter.

The balloon drop at the 115th Tech Night at Pops, one of the most beloved traditions at Tech Reunions. Photo: Dominick Reuter.

The balloon drop at the 115th Tech Night at Pops, one of the most beloved traditions at Tech Reunions. Photo: Dominick Reuter.

At Technology Day, audience members participated in a tribute to Susan Hockfield by growing a "garden" of flowers.

At Technology Day, audience members participated in a tribute to Susan Hockfield by growing a "garden" of flowers. Photo: Dominick Reuter.

President Hockfield mingled with Tech Day guests during intermission. Photo: Dominick Reuter.

President Hockfield mingled with Tech Day guests during intermission. Photo: Dominick Reuter.

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A Tech Day crowd in Kresge Auditorium.

A Tech Day crowd in Kresge Auditorium.

Technology Day is one of the beloved Tech Reunions traditions, and this year MIT professors and alumni shed light on advanced manufacturing and the promise it holds to inject new vitality into sectors of the economy thought to be in decline and to position America again as a world leader in manufacturing.

This new industrial revolution builds on recent advances in computation, computationally based materials, and robotic processes, and it has the potential to transform manufacturing in all established industrial centers.

Enjoy this insightful and informative program via webcast. After you register, you’ll be emailed the viewing link.

Webcast

American Transformations: The Next Industrial Revolution
Saturday, June 9, 9:00 a.m.–12:45 p.m. EDT.

Register for the event to receive the link to the webcast.

Highlights include:

  • An overview of MIT’s Production in the Innovation Economy report by Professor Olivier de Weck SM ’99, PhD ’01
  • A look at biobased products and homegrown manufacturing by Professor Kristala Jones Prather ’94
  • A materials by design presentation by Professor Markus Buehler
  • Two alumni entrepreneurs’ perspectives: Marcie Black ’94, MNG ’95, PhD ’03 on commercializing silicon nanowire solar cells and Nate Ball ’05, SM ’07 on manufacturing advanced hardware in a bootstrapped startup

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If you missed the champagne bars, fireworks, and giant cake, don’t despair. We just published a gallery of photos from Toast to Tech, the culmination of MIT’s sesquicentennial celebration. Head over to the Alumni Association website to take a look, or click on the photo below. To get a real taste of the action, pop open a bottle of bubbly and eat a cupcake while you peruse the pictures.

media gallery

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The photo galleries are up! Enjoy images from the highest-attended reunions ever. There are also shots of the 50th reunion Class of 1961 as well as highlights to read. For your added pleasure, even more photos below. It’s like you’ve hit the jackpot.

The Toast to Tech party, attended by some 8,000 membersof the MIT community, was a highlight of the weekend.

The Toast to Tech party, attended by some 8,000 members of the MIT community, was a highlight of the weekend. Photo: Dominick Reuter.

Tom Scholz '69 of the Platinum-Award-winning band Boston donned a cape as he played Symphony Hall's historic pipe organ. Going strong for 114 years, Tech Night at Pops is MIT's longest-running reunion tradition. Photo: Dominick Reuter.

Tom Scholz '69 of the Platinum-Award-winning band Boston donned a cape as he played Symphony Hall's historic pipe organ. Going strong for 114 years, Tech Night at Pops is MIT's longest-running reunion tradition. Photo: Dominick Reuter.

The MIT10 reception provided an opportunity for young alumni to meet each other and explore the MIT Museum. Photo: Darren McCollester.

The MIT10 reception provided an opportunity for young alumni to meet each other and explore the MIT Museum. Photo: Darren McCollester.

President Susan Hockfield (center) talking with alumni and guests at the 25th reunion brunch. Photo: Darren McCollester.

President Susan Hockfield (center) talking with alumni and guests at the 25th reunion brunch. Photo: Darren McCollester.

From left: Class of 1961 classmates Susana Ravecca-Figoli, Marla Moody, Susan Kannenberg, Karlene Gunter, and Marion Weiner Berger prepare to march in the Commencement Procession. They were among 80% of 1961 alumnae who attended this 50th reunion. Photo: Darren McCollester.

From left: Class of 1961 classmates Susana Ravecca-Figoli, Marla Moody, Susan Kannenberg, Karlene Gunter, and Marion Weiner Berger prepare to march in the Commencement Procession. They were among 80% of 1961 alumnae who attended this 50th reunion. Photo: Darren McCollester.

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It took six decorators and two bakers more than a week to build MIT’s biggest birthday cake ever. The result? A 24-foot long masterpiece that looked as good as it tasted. Watch the video to see how it all came together. Happy 150th MIT!

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More about the cake

Creator: Montilio’s of Boston

Weight (cake and icing): 750 lbs.
Number of cupcakes: 1,000
Weight w/cupcake river: 1,000 lbs./450,000 g.
Number of bakers: 2
Number of decorators: 6
Days to construct: 5
Percent of finished creation that will be edible (non-structural): 80

Cake ingredients
Sugar: 270 lbs.
Cake flour: 225 lbs.
Baking Powder: 6.75 lbs.
Cream of tartar: 18 oz.
Vanilla: 18 oz.
Salt: 18 oz.
Shortening: 135 lbs.

Icing ingredients
Butter and shortening: 100 lbs.
Powdered sugar: 150 lbs.
Milk: 5 gal.
Vanilla: 1 qt.

Credit: Amy Marcott

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