It takes more than smooth jazz, fancy desserts, and chocolate fountains to lure graduate students out of their labs and into the Walker Memorial on a Thursday evening. But the unveiling of the GradRat — the MIT graduate ring — managed to do so yesterday.
Unlike the iconic undergraduate Brass Rat, which is customized by each class, the GradRat is only redesigned once every five years. The first GradRat came out in 2003, echoing MIT’s increasing graduate student population. The one unveiled yesterday was the third-generation GradRat.
Representations of grad life, good humor, and references to current events are the most prominent themes in the design of the GradRat.
The bezel features a beaver holding a branch and elements such as an overturned coffee mug and a night skyline, all references to the nocturnal work habits of many graduate students.
The GradRat includes other traditional BrassRat staples such as ivy leaves floating in the river. On the bottom right of the bezel, the beaver has carved “4/15,” the date of the 2013 Boston Marathon, on a stump, and a ribbon and shield that pays tribute to MIT Police Officer Sean Collier.
The Degree Shank is a unique feature of the GradRat; the ring serves students enrolled in different programs and different graduating years. Each course has its own symbol ingrained in a part of its students’ rings.
According to Katia Shtyrkova G, chair of the GradRat ring committee for the past two years, a lot of hard work went into the new design. The Ring Committee sent out surveys in January to solicit input on the important features of graduate life to be referenced on the ring. Forty-four surveys were also sent to departments in order to design the unique symbols on the Degree Shank.
Controversies arose during the design process. The symbol for Dropbox, considered one of the most essential tools in graduate life, was included on the ring. In spite of its popularity, some deemed it inappropriate to include a corporation’s logo on a school ring. Shtyrkova also mentioned that while the popular refrain of “IHTFP” seems to capture the attitude of many graduate students, many considered it too “undergrad” to be on the GradRat. The acronym was not included in the ring’s design.
Although the final design of the ring was completed in July, it was not unveiled until yesterday evening. The ring, with all its hidden details, is now available to purchase online at http://gradrat.mit.edu/.