An MIT Alumni Association Publication

Alumni leave MIT armed with knowledge and a whole lot of memories. During Tech Reunions in 2023, the MIT Alumni Association asked returning alums what
else they had held onto since leaving campus. See their responses in this MITAA video and check out some of the photos below that alums sent in after. 

A photo grid of three photos showing MIT alumni holding out their Brass Rat rings
Walt Gibbons ’73, SM ’75, had the most popular response, provided by 22 of the 69 alums interviewed. He named his MIT Brass Rat.
A photo collage with two photos of MIT alum Alan Paul Lehotsky, left an old photo at MIT's graduation wearing Groucho glasses, and right him today wearing the same glasses
Alan Paul Lehotsky ’73 said that in addition to his Brass Rat, he still has the Groucho glasses he wore to graduation. He admitted that the mustache has not held up very well.
A photo of MIT alum Jeanne Yu sitting on a sign with large "MIT" letters outside with trees and leaves in the background
Jeanne Yu ’13 said, “The one thing I kept from MIT was my sense of resilience.”
A photo collage of MIT alum Elliot Owen (left) and two other photos showing aluminum flexures
Elliot Owen ’18, SM ’20, still has the precision-machined aluminum flexures that he used for his graduate research. “It is easy to create structures with a low stiffness in the direction of travel and high stiffness in all other directions,” he said. “I keep them on my bookshelf and show them off when I have people over. Most people are very surprised to see a solid piece of metal flex and move so easily and without friction.”
A photo collage of photos of MIT alum Amy (Schonsheck) Simpkins all three showing her wearing an MIT sweatshirt, one by herself, one with two other people, and another in a large group
Amy (Schonsheck) Simpkins ’03 got her Institute keepsake early—a “cheap hoodie sweatshirt that was on special at the Coop the first week of my freshman year.” She still wears it almost every day.
A photo of MIT alum Diane Marie McKnight holding a bronze oarlock (left) and a close up of the oarlock (right)
Diane Marie McKnight ’75, SM ’78, PhD ’79, kept a bronze oarlock used for securing an oar on a boat. “I sand-casted it myself as part of my last class in mechanical engineering, and I learned how to use a lathe,” she said.
A photo collage with three photos, one of MIT alum Morgan Ferguson, another a close up of a propeller, and another of an aircraft
“I kept a propeller from one of the first planes I ever built,” said Morgan Ferguson ’23. “It was a spare propeller from a plane that I worked on as part of a team of undergraduate and graduate students at MIT that develop aircraft for the annual AIAA [American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics] Design/Build/Fly competition. I continue to work on these planes.” His latest aircraft is pictured above right.

Watch the video

This article also appears in the May/June issue of MIT Alumni News magazine, published by MIT Technology Review.


Benjamin Jordan

Sat, 05/18/2024 12:38pm

I wear my brass rat every day. In my job (I have worked for The Coca-Cola Company ever since I graduated in 1996), I have been to over fifty countries, and there are times when people recognize it in faraway places. Once I was on an airport shuttle in Singapore and I heard someone say, “nice ‘rat.” Great conversation starter and connection maker…always!!!

Mark Camenzind

Sat, 05/18/2024 7:01pm

I still have Aluminum bicycle I machined from scratch in 1976 during IAP Mechanical Engineering Course. Gary Klein helped with course and he created Klein Bicycles, when Al frames were still very rare. All frames used to be steel, like 531 alloy. The sealed aircraft bearings have never been lubricated in almost 50 years. Have found memories also of Professor Daniel Schaefer Kemp who taught organic chem and who I did UROP for 1.5 years. Too bad Covid did him in. ):

Edward Kwok

Wed, 05/22/2024 6:50pm

A story:

One Friday night, a man walked into a bar in Harvard Square. He looked around and approached a target:

Man: Do you know that the expected value of a sum is the sum of the expected values?

Target: If and only if the variables are independently and identically distributed, and I am with someone.

Brian Leibowitz

Tue, 06/04/2024 4:24am

I still have the girlfriend (now also wife) that I found in 54-100 during an LSC movie almost 40 years ago.

Jeffrey Vandegrift

Tue, 06/04/2024 4:18pm

When I arrived at MIT in '74 MIT the news was full of articles about the late Vannevar Bush. As an off-campus student I needed furniture and headed over to The Technology Matrons of MIT. They pointed me to a collection of identical desks, small but usable. $15 later I was populating my new desk. As I pulled the center drawer all the way out for the first time I found a carved inscription
The ' character had a mirror image C shape to it.

Given that Bush was at Tufts in '10... my theory continues to be that the collection of desks originated at Tufts. After a basement flood I kept the drawer and ditched the rest and a few years later I cut out a roughly 5x8 section of the drawer and keep it prominently displayed on my desk.