The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Brass Rat tradition was born in the spring of 1929. C. Brigham Allen, then President of the Class of 1929, called upon one member of the classes of 1930, 1931, and 1932 and entrusted them with the task of designing a ring that the Institute Committee would ultimately approve as the Standard Technology Ring. The committee agreed upon a three part construction, with a primary image on the Bezel of the ring and two other images on the two shanks.
Controversy quickly arose over whether to honor the Beaver or the Great Dome on the Bezel; some members of the committee even questioned MIT’s choice of the beaver as its mascot. The committee looked to the original discussion over the mascot (formally decided upon by President MacLaurin in 1914), calling upon the now famous defense of the beaver by Lester Gardner, Class of 1897:
"We first thought of the kangaroo which, like Tech, goes forward in leaps and bounds. Then we considered the elephant. He is wise, patient, strong, hard working, and, like all who graduate from Tech, has a good hide. But neither of these were American animals. We turned to Mr. Hornady’s book on the animals of North America and instantly chose the beaver. The beaver not only typifies the Tech (student), but his habits are peculiarly our own. The beaver is noted for his engineering, mechanical skills, and industry. His habits are nocturnal. He does his best work in the dark."
Citing the fact that many other schools had buildings similar to our Great Dome, the committee ultimately decided to honor our hard-working and industrious mascot on the ring—and thus the Brass Rat was born. With the debate settled and the ring finally designed, the Class of 1930 was the first to proudly wear a brass rat.
So started the Institute tradition of the Brass Rat, the affectionate nickname for the ring that became the symbol of MIT as well as one of the most recognizable rings worldwide. Ever since, each class has appointed its own Ring Committee, which endeavors to craft a ring that will inspire us while we are here, unite us once we leave, and, above all else, unmistakably symbolize the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.