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There’s a lot about IIT that you may not know. Find out here.

Did You Know


Overachieving since 1890, IIT has been named among the 50 Most Underrated U.S. Colleges by Business Insider.

Standing Up

One of the Little Rock Nine, Gloria Ray Karlmark (CHEM, MATH ’65) stood up with fellow classmates against segregation at her Arkansas high school in 1957 and helped make a quality education an equal right for all.

New Pathways

IIT’s first chemical engineering graduate (1901) and the first-known African-American chemical engineer was Charles Pierce—and his alma mater is home to one of the country’s first chemical engineering programs.

Technology and Society Combine

In 1946 IIT Psychology Chair David Boder interviewed WWII Holocaust survivors using equipment developed by Marvin Camras (EE ’40, M.S. ’42), credited as the inventor of magnetic recording. Boder’s recordings are the earliest known oral histories of the Holocaust. Camras received the National Medal of Technology in 1990.

Move Over, Miss America!

IIT’s Main Campus is quite the looker. Designed by one of the world’s most influential architects. On the National Register of Historic Places. Named one of “America’s Most Beautiful College Campuses” and “one of the top 100 destinations to visit in the twenty-first century.” The list goes on and on.

Don’t Blink!

In 1970 the rocket-propelled Blue Flame car, co-developed with IIT’s Institute of Gas Technology, broke the land speed record, hitting 622.4 mph.

Can You Hear Me Now?

Inventor of the mobile phone Marty Cooper (EE ’50, M.S. ’57) changed the world with his first cell phone call in 1973. The recipient of that first call: Joel Engel, Cooper’s rival at AT&T’s Bell Labs.

Compute This

The Univac 1105 computer was used to store data from the 1960 U.S. Census, and the one located at IIT was one of only three of its kind in existence. Its base price was $1.9 million and it boasted a storage capacity of 12,288 36-bit words.

Educating the Red, White, and Blue

With IIT’s guidance, the U.S. Navy’s V-12 program educated and trained Navy engineers during WWII. IIT had one of the earliest and highest-volume V-12 programs, which was also significant in military history for its admission of African-Americans on equal basis with whites.

First Lady

Lois Graham (M.S. ME ’49, Ph.D. ’59) was the first woman in the country to earn a doctorate in mechanical engineering, and she did it at IIT. When she joined IIT she was the first female student in the MMAE department, which did not have a women’s restroom. (IIT responded quickly, converting a closet into a facility just for her.)

“The Ultimate Land Yacht”

A mobile research lab dubbed the Snow Cruiser was developed by IIT’s precursor Armour Research Foundation for Adm. Richard E. Byrd’s third expedition to Antarctica in 1939. It measured 55 feet 8 inches long, had two six-cylinder diesel engines, and reached a maximum speed of 30 miles per hour.

No Introduction Necessary

IIT Institute of Design alumnus Art Paul was Hugh Hefner’s right-hand art man as the founding art director of Playboy magazine. Paul says it took him about an hour to design the famous bunny logo.

Scarlet, Gray—and Gold?

The Rock became a campus landmark when it was moved to IIT from a Canadian mining exhibit at the World’s Columbian Exhibition in 1893. According to the 1898 Integral, the stone weighed two tons and contained more than $800 worth of gold.

Before There Was Spotify…

…There was good ol’ radio. And the inventor self-credited as the Father of Radio is Lee DeForest, an electrical engineering instructor at IIT precursor Armour Institute. In 1901 he sent the first long-distance signal from the roof of Main Building to various buildings downtown.


Ever heard stories about IIT’s research arm, IIT Research Institute, back in the day? In its early years, IITRI buildings housed a pool for canoe weight-bearing tests, spheres of high-pressure air (Jacques Cousteau used them), and the first industrial nuclear reactor in the U.S. Never mind the Snow Cruiser and a tunnel connecting to the Dan Ryan!

Up In Space

When the Mars Global Surveyor reached its destination in the Mars atmosphere in 1997, it took a bit of IIT with it. Thermal coatings manufactured at IIT Research Institute protected parts of the space vehicle as well as parts of the Pathfinder.

Head to Hand to Pen to…Telestrator!

Leonard Reiffel (EE ’47, M.S. ’48, Ph.D. ’53) invented the Telestrator for use as a teaching tool for his WTTW science show. Then someone had another bright idea—to use it in sports and weather broadcasting, too. Since then Reiffel’s device has helped analysts highlight sports plays, medical scans, and even images from the O. J. Simpson trial.

Chip Off the IIT Block

Straight out of grad school, Rajeev Chandrasekhar (M.S. CS ’88) joined the Intel team that developed the 486 chip and later, the Pentium chip. (His initials are among those on every 486 processor produced.) He’s now an entrepreneur and member of India’s Parliament.

Sorry, Talon

Yes, Talon is still the official Scarlet Hawks mascot. But that doesn’t mean a spirited (if irreverent) tuber can’t rep for IIT, too. The IIT Potato came onto the scene in 2014, bringing with it a love of dimly lit laboratories and cool weather—making Chicago a good place to call home.