Brass Rat 101

It’s about this time every year that the sophomore class of MIT undergraduates gets excited about the unveiling of their own Brass Rat. 

The Brass Rat is what we call MIT’s class ring. It’s been a tradition to get the ring in the spring of your second year at the Institute since 1929. Even though each ring maintains key features— like the Great Dome, the school mascot, and the school’s seal— a committee of students redesign the precise mold every year to make it unique to their shared experience at MIT.

Before the ring became a tradition, however, the school had a vigorous debate about what to officially make their mascot. People considered the kangaroo and elephant before settling on the beaver. Ultimately, they felt the beaver was the most fitting since it was an American animal, is called “the engineer of the animal world,” and (like most MIT students) does most of its work at night! Somewhere along the line, people thought the beaver looked more like a rat and christened the ring the Brass Rat.

They also pop up all the time in the real world! In the first Marvel Iron Man movie, both Tony Stark and Rhodey wear Brass Rats. The rings in the movie are real— the directors reached out to alumni from the same class year in which Stark would have graduated and asked to borrow their rings.

It’s also not uncommon for alumni to outbid all other competitors when Brass Rats show up in auctions—they feel strongly that only alumni should own them!

Check out the official designs of the past several rings before visiting to see some Brass Rats in person.