GradRat Design


The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Brass Rat tradition was born in the spring of 1929. The President of the Class of 1929, C. Brigham Allen, formed a committee to design a band to be used as the first 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. After the recommendation of the committee, the Class of 1930 was the first to proudly wear a Brass Rat (depicted below). So started the Institute tradition of the Brass Rat, the affectionate nickname for the ring that has become a recognizable symbol of MIT worldwide. As the graduate population at MIT grew, the Brass Rat tradition was adopted by the graduate body. The MIT graduate population has now become the majority among both current students and alumni, and the MIT Graduate Ring has evolved with it. The ring was redesigned first in 2003, then in 2008, and again in 2013, and a committee of current graduate students will continue to redesign the ring every five years to hone its relevance to the unique, ever-changing life and culture of MIT graduate students. The graduate MIT ring has been named the GradRat, and its graduate ring program has become the largest of its kind in the USA. Being a traditional MIT ring, featuring a beaver framed by a rectangular bezel, it is among the most recognized rings in the world today. Now is your chance to take part in the long and unbroken tradition that embodies our collective, life-changing experiences at MIT.



MIT Grad 2013 base ©500w

The Beaver

The Beaver, representing the MIT graduate student, is seen determinedly looking towards the future. He is wearing a Grad Rat on the right ring finger and is firmly holding a branch symbolizing his hard work. The Beaver is extending his index finger to symbolize MIT’s position as the #1 university in the world.

The Branch

As a symbol of the Beaver’s hard work, the branch represents a diploma still taking form. It shows the numbers “1”, “5”, and “0” recalling MIT’s 150th anniversary.

The Stump

The Beaver has carved the stump into a memorial. The ribbon and the shield are tributes to the events of the 117th Boston Marathon and MIT Police Officer Sean Collier. The date of the 2013 Boston Marathon,  “4/15”, is inscribed on the stump.

Buddy Beavers

In the background, a group of beavers swim together towards the world beyond MIT, each clutching a diploma. This symbolizes the teamwork and community that is essential to graduate student life. While his friends swim out into the world, the Beaver realizes that his funding is running out and he has to finish his dam research.

The Tools

The overturned coffee mug sitting on top of the thesis underneath the beaver represents the caffeine-induced chaos necessary for graduate students to complete their work at MIT. The bottom of the thesis looks like unfinished piece of wood, that the beaver is turning into the thesis page by page.

The Tail

The tail of the beaver is represented as a globe with many connections symbolizing the global reach and impact of MIT and its graduate students’ work. It also symbolizes the network MIT graduate students develop during their time at MIT.


The branches form the word “GRAD” behind the beaver, symbolizing that the ring is unique to graduate students.

The Ivy leaves

Flowing in the river are eight ivy leaves that symbolize the Ivy League schools that are left in the wake of the buddy beavers.

The Skyline

Represented at night, when the graduate students do their best work, the skyline represents the iconic buildings that influence our time at MIT as seen from the Boston side. It starts on the left with the main dome and continues through with the Stata building, Walker Memorial, the Green Building and finally the Sloan School of Management.


Embedded in the skyline of the Stata Center is the Dropbox symbol. Dropbox has been named one of the most essential tools used in graduate life at MIT and is also an example of MIT’s leadership in technology and entrepreneurship.

The Seal Shank

The Seal

MIT’s official seal shows two figures, the worker and the thinker, personifying ‘Mens Et Manus’ (Mind and Hand). The flame between the two figures demonstrates the light of knowledge and our burning desire for science and arts.


In the classic  “nuts and bolts” icon, MIT is spelled with formulas symbolizing the importance of blending innovation with tradition.

The Degree Shank

The Department Shank is what makes the GradRat the GradRat, it sets it apart from any other Brass Rat. This shank maintains basic elements from the Brass Rat, but brings in customizations that are unique to the Graduate Student. The center of  the shank features an icon of the owner's department.
Choose your Degree:
Choose your Department:
This icons features a bridge (civil engineering) over a river (environmental engineering) to bring the two aspects of the course together.


The GradRat features several elements that have come to be expected in a Brass Rat of the 21st Century: the skylines of Boston and MIT, and the map of MIT on the inside of the ring.

The Boston Skyline

The Cambridge Skyline

The Boston Skyline features a view of the Charles River with the Longfellow Bridge on the left side and the Harvard Bridge on the right side. A rowing boat and a Tech Dinghy can be seen adjacent to the bridges along with a Red Line train on the Longfellow. In the back, many famous Boston landmarks can be seen including the Hancock Tower, the Prudential Center, the Millennium Building and the familiar Citgo sign over Fenway Park.
The Cambridge Skyline centers on the Great Dome, one of the most recognizable places on campus. The Skyline also features such iconic buildings as Old Ashdown, the new Media Lab, and the new Sloan building. Captured in the Green building is the silhouette of a Tetris piece, recalling the Holy Grail of hacks.

MIT Dome


The dome of Building 10 is a renowned icon of MIT, and it is featured in the GradRat department side. Your graduation year will be engraved into the scroll at the foot of the shank.

MIT Map Features


The map depicts the areas of campus where most of graduate student life, classes and research take place.  From Tang Hall to E62, the new map is the most comprehensive map to ever be depicted on an MIT ring. Confusing to the outsider, the map is included so that we never forget the places we spent time working or partying and the convoluted paths  we took to get to class on time and avoid harsh weather conditions.


Graphic Designer

Timothy (Tim) F. Flynn is the Balfour artist who helped design the GradRat using the committee members input.