Picture This: Brass Rats Worldwide

by Nicole Morell on November 19, 2014 · 13 comments

in Alumni Life, Remember When...

The new Standard Technology Ring was invented 85 years ago by representatives from the classes of 1930, 1931, and 1932. The committee’s major design debate centered on the position of the dome and the beaver—which would be on the face of the ring? The beaver was eventually selected, with committee members agreeing that many universities have domes, but few have beavers. The final design looked much like the current version with a beaver on the face of the ring and Great Dome and class year on either side. The beaver’s prominence on the ring led to its Brass Rat nickname.

Brass Rat Ad 1930

Sophomores still gather each year to design the ring for their graduating class, with the new design revealed each spring. Beyond the beaver, dome, and class year, new elements such as hacker maps, hidden symbols, and mementos make them unique to individual classes. Graduate students redesign their Grad Rat every five years.

Today the brass rat, which is purchased by more than 90 percent of undergraduates and is growing in popularity among graduate students, serves as a quick way to identify Institute alumni and make connections among them.

To highlight this MIT symbol, we asked alumni and students to share Brass Rat photos on social media with the hashtag #brassrat. Images came from Australia to Warsaw, Fenway to Lake Tahoe where alumni are working, playing, and reconnecting with their Brass Rats on. We saw Brass Rats as they began to age and fresh new rats on Class of 2016 hands. Browse photos and notes from fellow alumni below and take a look at the over 50 submitted brass rat photos on Exposure.

You can still share your brass rat on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Google+. Just upload your photo and tag it with #brassrat. We’ll share it with your fellow alumni.

Aud McKeown

Audubon Dougherty SM ’10 and her Grad Rat take a break from sketching screen flows for a digital platform for Vice President Joe Biden’s Jobs Data Jam

Stephen Rodan

Stephen Rodan ’16 and U.S. Department of Energy’s John Kelly SM ’78, PhD ’80 show of their Brass Rats at the National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution


Catherine Jenkins '03, SM '14

Catherine Jenkins ’03, SM ’04 Brass Rat at Wieliczka Salt Mine in Wieliczka, Poland

Robert Wickham

Robert Wickham ’93, SM ’95 poses his Brass Rat 31 floors up in Melbourne, Australia.

Teresa DiGenova '99

Brass Rat family shot featuring Rocco DiGenova ’72, Mary Beth DiGenova ’10, Teresa DiGenova ’99, Kevin DiGenova ’07



{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Marlys Appleton November 19, 2014 at 6:30 am

Wish I had know of photo request for Brass Rats. Will still send one in if I can. I get so many compliments on mine as I chose it in 18k gold & it is truly unique & beautiful


Nicole Morell November 19, 2014 at 10:15 am

We’re still collecting and sharing them, Mary. We would love to see it! You can post the photo to our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MITAA or email it to me at nmorell [at] mit.edu. Thanks for reaching out! -Nicole


Audubon Dougherty November 20, 2014 at 8:11 pm

My last name is actually Dougherty (McKeown is middle name) but thanks for including me!


Nicole Morell November 21, 2014 at 10:50 am

Thanks, Audubon. I went by what you had listed on Twitter as to respect privacy a bit. Happy to update. Thanks again for sharing. –Nicole


John Tracy November 20, 2014 at 8:41 pm

I lost my original brass rat, bought a new one, lost that – does anyone know how I can buy the third one – class of 1965!



Nicole Morell November 21, 2014 at 10:52 am

Hi John,

Here is a breakdown of the vendors by year: https://alum.mit.edu/benefits/BrassRat Some vendors keeps the molds for longer than others, hopefully they still have yours. Best of luck! -Nicole


Sarah November 20, 2014 at 9:46 pm

Awesome article! Fun and informative


Tricia November 21, 2014 at 2:11 pm

I was on the 1990 ring committee and we came up with the idea of putting the Boston and MIT skyline on the sides of the Rat. The ring company just couldn’t come up with an acceptable Boston one so I sent my boyfriend (now husband and holder of a ’87 rat) to take the pic. The Citgo sign just had to be in it! So his picture became the side and the ring company had to make special triangle dies to stamp the sign on each ring to make it crisp. Fun how that became a long standing tradition from then.

On another note. There is a 1932 ring in our family that my grandfather had worn. But we can’t find him in any graduation docs (I worked with the Alumni dept). I wonder based on the ad above if people could just write in and buy one. He had a funky double life and was older than he told everyone by 25 yrs but worked as an engineer for Ford designing and building his plants. Might help us track down the history…


Nicole Morell November 21, 2014 at 5:25 pm

Hi Tricia,

Two great stories! Have you tried the Office of the Registrar? They should have that kind of information if it exists: http://web.mit.edu/registrar/ Thanks –Nicole


Joe Horton November 29, 2014 at 9:31 am

Anyone know whether the gold can be plated? Mine is 10k, but I have acquired a taste for rose gold. I know that’s an alloy with copper, which gives it the warm reddish color. What I don’t know is whether it’s possible to plate an alloy onto a surface.

Also: I’ve used my brass rat as a template to make cuff links. Anyone else interested in that?



ronn February 19, 2016 at 7:00 pm

yes your ring can be plated with rose gold, but may need to be replated every so many years, do to wear.


Maureen Coffey December 14, 2014 at 9:56 am

Oh 19.5 dollars for a 14 carat green gold ring – this is not only about alumni memories, but also a bit of economic history for those who want to see it.


ronn February 19, 2016 at 7:02 pm

yes your ring can be plated with rose gold, but may need to be replated every so many years, due to wear.


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