The Leading Scientific College.
The method of instruction is different from that at Harvard, and yet not the ordinary method of prescribed work. In the freshman year the work is a prescribed course, the same for all, and includes a course in military tactics. Military drill is required of the men in order that the Institute can obtain a yearly grant from the government. The freshman cadets make a fine battalion of several companies, drilling in the gymnasium several times each week. At the close of the freshman year the student is allowed to choose one of the following ten courses: civil, mechanical, electrical, or mining engineering, architecture, chemistry, natural history, biology, physics, or the general course. When his choice is once made, the student is required to follow it up through the regular studies pertaining to it, during the remainder of his course. There are, in addition, a few optional studies, but so much time is necessary to accomplish the required work that few men avail themselves of the chance to study extras. Indeed, such hard application is necessary to meet the requirements to obtain a degree that many, even good students, have to give up the task and become special students. This is clearly demonstrated by comparing the size of the classes. At present '85 has 30 men; '86 has 60; '87 has 85, and '88 has 193. Thus special students have become a prominent feature of the Technology, numbering 211, or 36 per cent. of the whole number. Another feature worth noticing is the instruction given to graduates, of whom there are over thirty, gathered from many colleges, and including Harvard A. B's. The corps of professors, instructors, assistants and lecturers, who are charged with the duty of teaching these men, numbers 63, of whom 28 comprise the faculty. At their head is president Francis W. Walker, one of the leading economists of the country, formerly in charge of the U. S. census of 1880; and among the professors are such men as John D. Runkle, Wm. P. Atkinson and Alpheus Hyatt.
Besides the regular scientific college course, the corporation has established two schools for manual training, the School of Mechanic Arts, with 66 men, and the Lowell School of Design, with 61 men and women. These bring up the total number of persons receiving instructions under the care of the corporation 709; but the two manual schools cannot properly be considered collegiate in nature. The Institute, situated as it is in the midst of the city, where land is very valuable, has no dormitories. The buildings belonging to it are four in number, the original Rogers Building, the New Building, the "Shops," and the Gymnasium and Drill Hall. The first two contain the lecture and drawing rooms, the laboratories, the collections and some of the work rooms. The "Shops" is a building devoted almost entirely to manual work, while the fourth and last building is devoted to the uses which its name implies.
With so much work on their hands the question naturally rises; "What means of recreation and pleasure do the students enjoy? They have the advantage of easy access to all the public amusements which a large city like Boston affords, but beyond that their means are limited. Not having any regular athletic grounds, their opportunities for out-of-door games are rather poor. It is largely to this cause and the want of leisure hours that the "Tech" men have figured so poorly in athletics. Moreover, the spring term closing at the end of May brings the examination period so early that little time is afforded for practice at that season of the year. In-doors the men have their own gymnasium, which is but poorly fitted up, and the B. Y. M. C. A. gymnasium even nearer, of which many men are members. There is a flourishing athletic club in the Institute which holds two or three meetings every winter and a field meeting in the spring. Tug-of-war pulling is one of their specialties, as several Harvard teams have found out to their cost. Social clubs and entertainments among the students are few. There is a glee club and orchestra, both of recent date, and two secret societies, to 2 G, composed of miners. and a chapter of the Gamma Sigma Upsilon, the civil engineers society. Hops at the gymnasium, a senior ball, and class suppers complete the slender round of amusement for the men of the Institute. The hard work required certainly turns out very capable men, but to obtain their degrees the students have to forego most of the pleasures and social intercourse which make life at most other colleges so pleasant as well as useful.