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December 22, 2008

Shape the Future
Elect new members to the Alumni Association Selection Committee

Help shape the future of the MIT Alumni Association by voting for candidates for the Alumni Association Selection Committee (AASC), the group that taps experienced alumni volunteers for posts including board membership and presidency of the Association. The committee also selects three MIT Corporation nominees.

Twelve alumni serve on the AASC: one from each of the Association’s 11 electoral districts and a past MITAA president, who serves as chair. All alumni can vote, but candidates now must live in District 4 (parts of Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey); District 9 (the Pacific Islands, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Hawaii, and parts of California); District 10 (parts of California); or District 11 (international).

Cast your vote online from January 2 to February 28:

Seattlelites Rock Retrocogitator Puzzle
The first clues appeared on the Alumni Association website at high noon on September 13. By September 30, 725 alumni and students had taken up the Retrocogitator Puzzle Challenge, a test of wits involving a series of 18 Mystery Hunt-style puzzles plus a metapuzzle. As some 460 teams tackled the challenge, they visited Web pages devoted to alumni innovators and explored the depths of the new Association site. And now you can follow their footsteps–with the answers online.

In the I. M. Pei ‘40 puzzle, solvers went to a Web page identifying Pei as the architect of two MIT buildings. They followed a trail of 22 small red squares hidden within the Alumni Association website; each square contained a number and a car-related logo. Solvers then lined up the first letters of their findings (1. Renault, 2. Aston-Martin, etc.) to reveal “Ratatouille Predecessor.” The Pixar film that preceded Ratatouille was Cars, so the answer to the puzzle was “Cars.”

The speed prizes went to two alumni teams and one student team, which finished in 7, 12, and 13 hours, respectively. The $1,000 first-place speed prize went to the Satellite Seattlelites: Mark ­Gottlieb ‘96, Sean Trowbridge ‘89, Daniel Katz ‘03, and Tanis O’Connor ‘02.

Retrocogitator Puzzle Headquarters awarded Usman Akeju ‘04 of New York an iRobot Roomba–made by an alumni-founded robotics firm–for the best poem, “The Zeroth Robo Sapiens.” (See the poem online.) Freshmen Daniel Levine and Elizabeth George and sophomores Dora Gao and Julie Henion of team Pamplemousse won a Wii version of the game Rock Band 2 from alumni-founded Harmonix Music Systems for writing the best new stanza to the Engineers’ Drinking Song:

A runner dared an engineer to beat him in a race.

The engineer declared, “This ring is just the perfect place.”

The runner said that he’d go first; the LHC flipped on.

Now his particles are floating in a brand new Higgs boson.

A life-size standing cutout of Oliver Smoot ‘62 went to the Grifters team of Texas–Charlene Gladden ‘93, SM ‘94, and her husband, Jason Gladden ‘91–for sheer volume of answers submitted. “We had a great time poring over the puzzles; so our sincere thanks to everybody who put this together,” they wrote.

You can see the puzzles (with answers) and prize winners, and learn about the student puzzle masters, online:

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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