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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

MIT vs Caltech: Nobel count

I learned from the Caltech News alumni magazine that 17 Caltech alumni have won the Nobel prize, versus 25 from MIT. You might think the advantage here goes to MIT, but their student body is 5 times larger! Most people are shocked to learn that Caltech's graduating class is only about 200 students. On a per-capita basis, I believe Caltech produces more science Nobel prizes than any other school. Keep in mind that about half of Caltech undergrads major in engineering or computer science, which are not Nobel-eligible disciplines.

When I was a student we used to joke that MIT stood for "Many Incompetent Technologists" (emphasis on Many) or "Made In Taiwan" :-)

On the other hand, Feynman went there, so it can't be all bad. Actually I have to admit it is probably more fun to be an undergrad at MIT than at Caltech (part of it is that the classes are so much easier :-). When I lived in Cambridge I could see there was a much more lively college scene in Boston than LA. MIT is bigger and has a better male-female ratio and more balanced social life than Caltech. Of course, the climate in Boston isn't as nice.

Before I had twins and startups I used to be involved in Caltech admissions and recruiting -- including calling up admitted students to answer questions and give advice. I was often speaking to students who had been admitted to both Caltech and MIT, and I was always scrupulously fair in describing the pros and cons of the two places.

More Caltech bragging: patents and PhDs.

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