CALTECH (California Institute of Technology) -6/17/10

The California Institute of Technology, commonly referred to as Caltech is a private research university located in Pasadena, California.  Caltech has six academic divisions with a strong emphasis on sciences and engineering.  The 124-acre campus is located approximately 11 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles.  Caltech enrolled 951 undergraduate and 1179 graduate students and employed 299 professorial faculty in 2009, which is the equivalent of 3 students per faculty member.  The university granted 215 undergraduate degrees, 117 masters degrees, and 193 doctoral degrees in 2009.  Imagine only 215 students new undergraduate students are admitted per year!  It is impossible to get in unless you are a genius or you got to have something that stands out to be admitted at Caltech.  What I really like about Caltech is once a student is admitted, for sure he or she will make it,  because all the students are encouraged to work together and help each other.   Despite its historically small size, 31 Caltech alumni and faculty have won the Nobel Prize, 66 have won the National Medal of Science or Technology, which it very amazing for such a tiny university.

The school was founded in 1891 and it definitely show its age.

 

Front porch at  CALTECH 

Walkways at CALTECH

 

We were briefed about CALTECH with the director of admission and then Faye, a second year student gave us the tour of the campus. 

Walking over the main campus with our guide.  Surprisingly the people taking this tour are mostly from the east coast (Michigan, Florida, Chicago, etc... and only 3 students from California.

 

The most popular undergraduate majors are mechanical engineering, physics, biology, chemical engineering, and computer & information sciences.  All students for the 1st 2 years are required to take  a core curriculum of 30 classes: five terms of mathematics, five terms of physics, two terms of chemistry, one term of biology, a freshman elective "menu" course, two terms of introductory lab courses, two terms of science writing, and twelve terms of humanities.  The first two terms are on a Pass/Fail basis to get use the grueling schedule. There is little or none competition amongst students.   Collaboration on homework is encouraged and the Honor System encourages take-home tests and flexible homework schedules.

 

Here we are walking toward the dorms.  They called it House system.  They have a total of 8 houses: 4 south houses (or hovses) were built: Blacker House, Dabney House, Fleming House and Ricketts House and 4 north houses : Lloyd House, Page House, and Ruddock House, and during the 1990s, Avery House. 

Walking by one of 8 house on campus.

Beautiful arcades!

Rickets house's entrance.
 

The Fleming Cannon, a Caltech landmark rests on its wheels on the Olive Walk in front of Fleming House. As it makes a very loud noise when fired, it is fired to mark important events, such as the end of rotation, Ditch Day, the end of the term, and graduation. It was originally cast for use in the Franco-Prussian War.

 

Fleming house entrance

Caltechís history has been marked by several great pranks, pranks are encouraged at Caltech.  If any students are interested in perpetrating other similar pranks, there is $200 set aside in the ASCIT Budget for that purpose.

Rule for pranks: When pulling a Prank, make sure not to terrorize other students, but is more about outsmarting them. An easy rule to remember when pulling a prank is the only rule you ever really have to know: Itís called the Honor Code. When you cause physical damage, pay for the repairs. If people feel uncomfortable, donít cross that line. Most importantly, with every prank, remember to leave a note.

Here Faye is explaining that The cannon was stolen by Harvey Mudd students in 1986 and at the demands of both college administrations, the Cannon was returned to Fleming House approximately 8 weeks after the prank.  It was rumored that Harvey Mudd would attempt to steal the cannon again in 2006 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their original theft; however, the cannon disappeared on April 6, a day before the anniversary, only to show up at MIT, just in time for Campus Preview Weekend, during which many rising freshmen visit MIT. A (seemingly fake) moving company by the name of Howe & Ser Moving Co. has taken credit. (The name is a double pun: When substituting "and" for the ampersand, it reads "how we answer".

A day after the prank was disclosed, Fleming's members began planning a recovery operation on the night of April 7. They immediately sent twenty-three members to Boston to retrieve their cannon. The Flems were greeted at MIT by a group of students and police who watched as the cannon was loaded into a truck. Afterward, a friendly barbecue celebrated the event.

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