As is customary, the focus of the bezel is our Institute mascot, the beaver. Our goal for the 2009 year was to have a beaver which looked hopeful, interested, and alert -- attitudes we felt the MIT mascot should represent. In one hand he holds a spyglass representing the future outlook of the Institute and our important role in charting new territory in the sciences. In the other, he holds a pocket watch, symbolizing the time MIT students constantly struggle to balance. The hands of this pocket watch have been replaced by female and male signs, to represent the fact that we are the most gender-balanced class currently at MIT.
On top of that, the hands show the time 1:48, the age in years of the Institute when our class leaves. Our unofficial school motto, "IHTFP," is hidden in the beaver's tail. The gnawed logs in the lower left represent the hard work of the beaver and of MIT students. Below the fallen log are eight ivy leaves crushed by the beaver's accomplishments. Shavings from the trunk form 142, as we will be the one hundred forty-second class to graduate from MIT. The cannon behind the beaver represents MIT's unique hacking community and rivalry with other institutions.
As MIT is a place where the support of friends is essential to success, a companion beaver swims in the Charles River. The background shows Boston at night, where MIT students find much of their nightlife, and Cambridge during the day, the center of our schooling and daily activities. Finally, Kerberos, the three-headed dog which guards Hades in Greek mythology, protects our school on this bezel as he does our Athena accounts.
The six simple machines, representing the foundations of science and engineering that MIT teaches us, are also hidden on the bezel: the teeth as the wedge, the pocketwatch chain as the pulley, the fallen log as the lever, the tip of the fallen log as the screw, the cannon's wheel and axle as the wheel and axle, and a ramp on the cambridge side as the inclined plane.
The Class Shank is our expression of who we are as the Class of 2009; as such, our class year is conspicuously featured at the top of the shank. The centerpiece of the shank is the Great Dome, the iconic image of MIT and the backdrop of our graduation in June of 2009. The symbol for infinity is displayed on the base of the Dome, denoting the Infinite corridor, the endless possibilities available at MIT, and our common mathematical backgrounds.
The T token to the left of "Massachvsetts Institvte of Technology" salutes the recently retired T token and reminds all of us of the MBTA's new found lack of empathy for college students; to the right, the fire department seal salutes the fire truck hack that occurred at the beginning of our sophomore year. In memory of the old cashier's office mural and the controversy in which its removal was shrouded, the dollar bill finally has a permanent home behind the columns of building 10. In solemn remembrance of the former ninth planet, Pluto is engraved to the left of the Great Dome. On a similar somber note, a zero with wings is flying off the ring, as our class is the last that should have a zero in its abbreviation.
An ambigram sits in Killian Court representing the daunting decision with which MIT students are faced each and every day: to punt or not to punt... but rather to tool. When held upside-down, the "punt" inscription instead reads "tool". Finally, we're often told that "getting an education from MIT is like taking a drink from a fire hose"; thus, the nozzle of a firehose crosses the T in tool.
The Seal Shank represents our school and tradition. Its constituent parts embody themes that have defined MIT's attitude and culture since its inception. Emblazoned at the top of the shank is our university's name - its three letter representation is elegant, yet efficient.
Below 'MIT' is the seal - in its original, unaltered form. Designed in 1863, the seal depicts two figures, a scholar and an artisan standing on either side of a lamp. The lamp, and the light that it emits, is the knowledge and capability we possess. The figures are analogous to our motto, 'Mens et Manus', meaning 'mind and hand', that is a synthesis of knowledge and application. It is through this synthesis that we will make a mark on society, seeking knowledge not only to satisfy our intellectual curiosity, but to advance human affairs.
Below the Seal a globe sits as the nucleus of a bohr atom. The globe represents the universal thinking and perspective that we try to cultivate in our time here. Also, the worldwide influence that the university possesses, as students come here to study from every corner of the planet. The fact that it sits amongst a ring of electrons denotes a commitment and involvement in world affairs, as our Institute strives to find solutions to the energy problem that we face today.
Finally, the open book at the bottom of the shank epitomizes our dedication to the open and free exchange of information and knowledge.
The Boston and Cambridge skylines are engraved on opposing sides of the bezel. Cambridge is shown in darkness at night, as MIT students are often considered nocturnal, since we work best when it's dark, and we all seem to go without sleep a few times each semester. The contrasting daytime view of Boston represents the bright future that lies ahead for each of us, both in our time at MIT and our careers. When the ring is reversed at graduation, we will fondly look back upon our campus, as the sun will have set on our college days, and advance forward toward our future.
One of the more distinctive but less visible traditions of the Brass Rat is the map of MIT engraved on the underside of the bezel. Instead of the traditional MIT campus map, the 2009 Ring boasts a Hacker's map, which shows each tunnel and basement as they are connected on our campus. Since the hacking tradition is an undeniably unique element of MIT, it has likely influenced each person here in some way, from orange tours freshman year to fire trucks atop our Great Dome. Also, a feature of the map unique to our class are the lines that block off Building 6, since the building has been undergoing construction since our arrival here at MIT.