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MIT Admissions

History

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MIT’s Interesting History

Founding MIT

MIT’s founder, William Barton Rogers, was a geologist, physicist, and educator. Before founding the Institute, he was a professor, and later chairman of Faculty, in the University of Virginia. However, during the 1840s, he became increasingly upset about the lack of stimulating intellectualism in the school as well as Virginia’s perpetual dependence on slavery. In 1845, he went for a geological trip to New England and was instantly opened to the inherent differences between the south and the north. Rogers felt that the industrial and intellectual atmosphere in Boston was superior and saw its potential in fostering a new kind of education free of bigotry.

Rogers Building.jpg

In 1853 Rogers resigned from his position in the University of Virginia and he and his wife Emma moved to Massachusetts. On April 10th, 1861, the governor of Massachusetts signed an act to implement the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Four days later, Fort Sumter was attacked signifying the beginning of the Civil War. And because of the war, construction of the Institute didn’t begin until 1863, in a landfill/ estuary area of the Back Bay. Rogers became the first president of the Institute. After Rogers’ tenure as president in 1870 came John D. Runkle, followed by Francis A. Walker in 1881. Rogers returned to MIT in 1882 to give the commencement speech but this proved to be quite taxing because he collapsed on the podium and died. His last words were recorded to be “bituminous coal.”

MIT did start out in Boston and resided there until it moved to Cambridge in 1913 where it still stands today.

The MIT Entrance Exams

The first MIT class arrived in 1865 and consisted of 15 students. Tuition was $100 (compare that to now). Back then, in order to be enrolled in the Institute, you initially needed to know arithmetic, geometry, English grammar, geography, the “rudiments of French”, and rapid and legible handwriting. These subjects were measured through entrance exams. The French and handwriting were eliminated in 1869 but the other requirements continued to be tested. Here are some examples of questions in the entrance exams. Try and see whether you know the answers:

English Questions:

      Mention any English writers, in prose or poetry, whom you have read.  
      Who is Count Bismark? Victor Emmanuel? W.E. Gladstone?
      Describe the course of the Rhine? the Danube? the Potomac?


Geometry Questions:

      Prove that the side of a regular hexagon inscribed in a circle is equal to its radius.
      Prove that the diagonal of a parallelogram divides it into two equal triangles. 


Algebra Question:

     Solve: 7x – 5y = 24, 4x – 3y = 11.


Arithmetic Questions:

    Multiply 73 thousandths by 19 hundredths. 
    What part of the month of August is 7/18 minutes?  

For more questions and to find answers to these questions click here.

MIT Songs

Tech-songs.jpg
Engrained in MIT’s history, since the nineteenth century, is the tradition of student songs (AKA Tech Songs). In the early 1900s MIT did not have any dormitories, nor did it have the type of campus life that we know today (not many student activities, clubs, or societies). In order to maintain a sort of bond between the students and the community, many wrote songs to explain the MIT experience. Amongst these songs was “Arise Ye Sons of MIT,” which has been described as MIT’s closest thing to an old alma mater. Another famous tech song is E to the U du dx, which may be considered to be one of the nerdiest chants of any university, but it is very catchy. Here are the words to our favorite Tech Cheer:
E to the U du dx, E to the X dx!
Cosine! Secant! Tangent! Sine!
3 point 1 4 1 5 9!
Integral, radical, mu dv
Slipstick, slide rule, M.I.T.
WE ARE HAPPY – TECH IS HELL
T-E-C-H-N-O-L-O-G-Y!
M.I.T. RAH! RAH! RAH!
M.I.T. RAH! RAH! RAH!
M.I.T. RAH! RAH! RAH!
Technology! Technology! Technology!


In 1903 graduate of the class of 1887, Frederic Field Bullard, compiled all of the Tech songs into a book. His hope was that new editions would continue to be written through time but sadly only a second and third edition were written after that. Click here to listen to some of the old Tech Songs.

MIT's Historical Achievements

Historically, MIT has tried to be a forerunner in innovative technology. Here are some of the technological achievements accredited to the MIT community;

  • First chemical synthesis of penicillin and Vitamin A
    Penicillin.png
  • Inertial guidance systems
  • Creating standard techniques for processing gasoline
  • Members of Project MAC, the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and the Tech Model Railroad Club wrote some of the early interactive computer video games like SpaceWar!
  • high speed photography
    High-speed.jpg
  • engineering radar technology (helping saving lives in WWII in 1940 and then later in cancer patients in 2000)
  • engineering magnetic core memory that made digital computers possible
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