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Virtual Tech Challenge

August 18, 2020

Since Bonny Kellermann ’72 and Bob Ferrara ’67 first launched the Tech Challenge Games in 1992, reunion classes have competed in a range of zany contests from a three-legged race to collect pi plates to a 2.007-style design challenge on the Saturday of Tech Reunions. Although in-person challenges weren’t possible this year, Kellermann and Ferrara kept the tradition alive with a series of virtual challenges. The first-ever Virtual Tech Challenge drew alumni from all 10 reunion classes from 1970 to 2015 as well as some newly minted alums from the Class of 2020.  In the end, the Class of 1970 emerged victorious. Check out some standout submissions to the haiku and limerick contest and test your estimation skills, campus knowledge, and first-year smarts below. 

How many of these locations can you identify?

campus details

Are you as smart as a first year?

In the Alumni Bowl, contestants faced questions like these on topics covered in the first year at MIT:

  1. What is the proper name of the shape of the graph of the hyperbolic cosine?
  2. Symmetric and antisymmetric stretching, scissoring, rocking, wagging, and twisting are examples of what kind of molecular energy?
  3. The biological process “transcription” begins with molecule A, makes molecule B, and is accomplished by molecule C. What are A, B, and C?

How many brass rats are in the beaker?


Haiku and Limerick Submissions

Alumni (and their offspring) penned 53 poems on one of four topics: Earth Day, covid-19, Zoom, or Google. Here are just a few of our favorites.

Fifty Earth Days gone,

Mother Earth said, “Is it hot?

Or is it just me?”

—Ron Searls ’70

The 50-year class is aware

That these days we must take special care.

But given that we

All survived MIT,

We aren’t so easy to scare.

—Alan Chapman ’70

There was an old nerd from the ’Tute

Who outgrew his snazzy red suit.

So to Lester* he penned,

“Despite covid, please send

A replacement before it seems moot.”

—Richard Tavan ’70

*Lester Gould has supplied red jackets to MIT 50th reunion attendees for decades.

I ZOOM from my room,

Visiting friends on a screen.

New? Yes. Normal? No.

—Beth Karpf ’75

Not beer, not the sun,

corona is a virus,

not a friend, not fun.

—Inge Gedo ’85

MIT Makers

united are covid’s bane:

face shields and hand san.

—Ngozi Eze ’05


Photo Challenge: A. 51: MIT Sailing Pavilion; B. E1: MIT President’s House; C. E52: Chang Building; D. W98: Alumni Building; E. W15: MIT Chapel F. W15: MIT Chapel; G. Building 1 courtyard

First-year Challenge: 1. Catenary; 2. Vibrational energy; 3. DNA (A) is transcribed to mRNA (B) using RNA polymerase (C.)

There are 232 brass rats in the beaker.