Campus Life student spotlight

Friendship reaches far and wide: An interview with Margaret Zheng and Wide Tim

Meet Wide Tim ’25, Tim the Beaver’s friend!

Name and Class: Wide Tim ’25

Areas of Study: Course 0 and π

Living Group: Somewhere in the sailing pavilion! Although born in McCormick Hall

Home State: Massachusetts

Activities: All the clubs and organizations he has been invited to


Name and Class: Margaret Zheng ’23 MEng ’24

Areas of Study: Course 6-14, 18, 21M. 6-14 M-Eng.

Living Group: McCormick 

Home Area: Alabama and China


Wide Tim’s Creator

Augmented Reality Mural Club

McCormick House Government

2023 Class Ring Committee

Big_Dijkstra_Energy Instagram Account

Shakespeare Ensemble


Zheng and Wide Tim pause and reflect on their time at MIT, what they enjoyed, and what they intend to do next! 

These interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

Wide Tim

You mentioned majoring in Courses 0 and π. What is that, and how long do you expect it to take you?

Course 0 is about Sleeping, and Course π is about eating! I’m already kind of an expert on those subjects myself. I’ve been here three years, but I think I will graduate in at least one more year. It’s hard enough being a three-year-old in this university completing all of these classes, but I’m also thinking of writing my own thesis, so that might take a few years.

I feel like I would be interested in trying to do a PhD in Deep Sleep and Nutrition. I love MIT and the people here, so I hope MIT accepts me for those programs as a joint major. I really want to learn about what meals bring you the best food coma.

If you had to choose a different Course, what would it be?

It would be Course ∞ because I think what they’re offering aligns with my interests very well! If you don’t know about it, it’s the “Being Wide” major. I want to do that because there’s no limit in how wide I could be!

And once you graduate, what do you want to do?

I still want to be at MIT! I mean, if MIT wants me to, I would be so happy to teach people about Eating and Sleeping. I mean, I think everyone needs those! 

If you had to move from your dam in the sailing pavilion to a residence hall on campus, what would it be?

Other dorms don’t hate me, but I love McCormick. McCormick forever! Although it’s getting renovated. I would say McCormick because my mom lives there, so I have a very emotional tie to it.

Do you have any other family members? Perhaps… Tim the Beaver?

Tim the Beaver? Oh, some people say we’re cousins, and to be honest, I actually don’t know about that either. I think we’re just friends, actually. I’ve known him for quite some time now!

I think every beaver that was drawn at MIT is a part of my family. Someone in the admissions office once told me that a thousand people can draw a thousand Tims, so we’re all family! And I have a very big family. I know so many people who have drawn beavers for their own things, so it’s great to have so many people in my family! I’m also glad that we all look different from each other, ha!

What is your favorite activity on campus?

My favorite thing to do is to find a place to wind down so I can sleep and eat. It’s basically a dream come true. 

Oh, any suggestions on where to do that?

The Banana Lounge! There’s no place sweeter than the Banana Lounge. The Hayden Library is also pretty good because it’s green, so it’s good for your eyes! I feel like I get to dream about floating in a sea of knowledge there. I don’t know how many of the books and pages I can actually comprehend, but it’s still fun!

How about your favorite memory at MIT?

It’s definitely meeting people at CPW! CPW is a great time for me because I get to meet the prefrosh at MIT. I think more and more people know about me as they come in to become part of this community, so it’s very cool for me to see their perspective coming into MIT. Like, what do they want to see? That brings me a lot of inspiration about something I don’t really know much about.

What were the hardest classes you’ve ever taken at MIT?

Oh, I have an entire list just for this!

There was this time in Spring 2022 where I took this elective called 18.1111 which is PEMDAS, which I think is pretty hard. In Spring 2023, there was this class called H20.01A called “Differentiating Water by Taste,” which was also pretty hard for me.

But for classes that I don’t really find hard, but I think other people would find hard is 0.0020: “Falling and Staying Asleep.” It’s a class that meets from 8:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. every day on a weekday. Please go check these out!

Margaret Zheng

Aside from Wide Tim, have you made characters for other organizations?

Well, I think this is very yes or no. Technically, I also drew the beaver that is on the Class of 2023 Brass Rat, which is our class ring. I don’t know if that one serves a similar purpose though. I think that beaver has less of a cartoonish ring to it. It’s basically there, and is like a snapshot of us going through our MIT life and captures a lot of things all at once. On the other hand, maybe Wide Tim is, you know, doing separate things at separate times.

Honestly, character-wise, Wide Tim would be the main character that I worked on. I haven’t really touched on other things. Wide Tim is the first widely—pun intended—recognized character I have created. I’m looking forward to more if I have the chance.

What do you plan on doing now that you have graduated? Do you plan on pursuing art too?

I’m going to stay in Boston for a job, which means MIT isn’t really going to get rid of me just yet. I love MIT, and I’m totally going to come back to visit too. And I think I’m still open to collaborations with student groups and stuff as long as they want to do things with me.

I think my job and artistic pursuits might not be directly related, but I hope that I would have a little bit of free time to do art on the side. I think art will be a very serious part of my life from now on, if it hasn’t already been. It’s also something I figured out in college that is not just a hobby, but something I can make impacts with.

How do you shape your art?

I think different artists have different views on what the purpose of their art is. I feel like most people say that they use art to express themselves, to express some sort of identity. For me, art is a tool to bring people happiness. That is literally the essential, central point. And all I want is for people to look at the things I’ve created and smile for even just two to three seconds. 

If they think about good things and think about good memories, then I would say that I achieved my purpose. Before doing Wide Tim, I’ve given people custom birthday cards and the like and drawn in them are caricatures. Other things, like Big_Dijkstra_Energy, are also a way to make people feel happy. I would say that [Big_Dijkstra_Energy] bridges the STEM-focused people and the other people together to create levity in the very stressed lives that we all lead right now.
I think that could take many different forms — it doesn’t need to be just through Wide Tim, it could be something else.

What was your favorite collaboration with another student group?

I feel like there isn’t going to be one, so I will give you several examples.

First of all, I would say that Wide Tim likes to answer people’s prompts. He’ll ask people on his Instagram story about what he should do next, like “what other shows are there on campus?” Then, some people give me answers, with many of them being creative. In their responses to Wide Tim, they say things like “come drink boba with us in this a capella concert with Perry the Platypus and all of that imaginative stuff.”

I really love it when people give it a narrative. It’s not just Wide Tim who is viewing the narrative — Wide Tim is going through a collective experience that the two parties, me and another group, are thinking to reimagine. That doesn’t really happen on campus, so that’s really cool. As I said, there’s not just one example, and there are so many groups that have done that. I guess something else I really enjoy is when the groups I am personally in have collaborated with Wide Tim, as I know the concepts. For example, I based something on A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Shakespeare, and I drew something for Wide Tim. I was Snug the Lion, so I made Wide Tim a lion, too, and that was really fun.

Wide Tim has done a lot of things with MIT admissions already, so he is kind of like the unofficial CPW photo booth person. Like, there is a Wide Tim cut-out at CPW, and I think it’s really impactful. I’m very honored and grateful that they would want something like Wide Tim to be representing MIT in a way that appeals to pre-frosh. It’s just really fun to see people taking pictures with Wide Tim.

Why is Wide Tim “wide,” anyway?

I wanted a beaver character to represent how welcoming MIT would be to freshmen at the time. Especially since they have spent the entire first semester at home [during the COVID-19 years]. Everybody is dying to find a community or more communities, so it applies to new students as well as old students.

I feel like that part is obviously geared toward freshmen, but also toward everyone who is coming back to campus wanting to see a change after a whole year of, well, sadness.

How long do you expect to do this?

As long as MIT wants to see him around. I don’t want him to go away, and I think Wide Tim is also keeping me mentally afloat in a sense. I’m going to keep going for this too. I don’t think [anyone will take over as Wide Tim’s artist after I graduate], but I might have said something like that. I might have been unsure when I said that two to three years ago.

Why did you create Wide Tim in the first place?
I want Wide Tim to exist so people at MIT are good at not just STEM, but the arts too. It has somewhat turned into that and an advocate for well-being. Once in a while, I will show things like, you know, why Wide Tim’s eating or sleeping, or enjoying his IAP, or laying on a bundle of pillows, or like eating an infinite amount of food.

He exists to remind people that things like sleeping and eating are important. They are the building blocks of what is good research, or good art, or good products. Like, you’ve got to eat or sleep first before you do those!