How MIT Became the Most Important University in the World

I was at an event last night where the CEO of WiTricity demonstrated wireless electricity, a technology invented at MIT. It was astounding, mind-blowing, and you could feel — pardon the pun — the electric excitement flow throughout the room at the site of powering electrical devices wirelessly.

Anyway, Boston Magazine examines the change underway at MIT, a university that was once considered a school for nerds but is now the epicenter of modern life.

MIT has long been the home of the nerd whose idea of fun is staying up late solving equations and writing code. But that’s changing fast. Droves of energetic young rebels, risk takers, and mavericks are now arriving at the university, hoping to make it big as tech entrepreneurs, and they’re transforming the spirit of the place. As improbable as it might seem, MIT has gone from geek to chic. “I lecture all around at different schools, like Babson, Emerson, BU, BC, Harvard, and MIT,” says Brian Patrick Halligan, a graduate of MIT’s Sloan School of Management and the CEO and founder of the successful Cambridge-based marketing-software business HubSpot. “And MIT kids are by far the best. They’re smart, articulate, covered in tattoos—they’re cool and hip and very different. Their clothes are edgy. And they’re all starting companies.”

Ash Martin, in his second year at Sloan, is exactly the kind of student Halligan is talking about. A cofounder of Viztu Technologies, which creates software that allows anyone to take and print digital 3-D images, Martin is blonde and brawny, with chiseled movie-star looks—and yes, he has tattoos. He plays water polo. He looks like a rock-star surfer, not someone who’s been hunkered down for the past year in the technological trenches, making breakthroughs in 3-D technology.

Martin is at the vanguard of change.

I think of it like this: if you want to run the world you go to Harvard, if you want to change the world you go to MIT.

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