It’s difficult to separate the concept of nerdiness from MIT. The Coop sells stickers that say Nerd Pride, our mascot is the beaver (nature’s engineer), and Conan O’Brien pokes fun at MIT’s nerdiness on his Twitter.
But is the Institute truly a nerdy place?
The Tech surveyed the undergraduate population of MIT to settle this question. 1402 students — 31 percent of the undergraduate body — responded.
76 percent of students surveyed identified their high school stereotype as “nerd,” but are they really? 47 percent of MIT has seen every episode of Star Wars. Only 8 percent watch anime, and 12 percent read comic books/manga, but the entire school (like much of the world) seems to adore Harry Potter.
To limit the breadth of our special, we kept the scope of our survey to media related fandoms like books, television, movies, and video games. We excluded sports and music since both categories are enormous and could merit their own surveys.
We were interested in examining whether or not the stereotype of MIT as a nerd haven is true to life. In the following pages, you’ll find data from our survey, a spotlight of fandom-based groups at MIT, and an interview with a Comparative Media Studies lecturer about fandoms. Featured are members of our community who shed their Brass Rats to don costumes and become someone else — to cosplay. We spoke with a variety of students about their favorite things, and polled the average American using Mechanical Turk to reveal what their perceptions of MIT are for comparison.
So is MIT truly the home of the Nerdy? It’s up to you to see the data and decide for yourself! Please write to us with your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org and may the Force be with you as you embark on the summer!
—Jessica J. Pourian ’13 and Connor Kirschbaum ’13