Why MIT matters
By Bill Gates May 15, 2011
When MIT was founded 150 years ago, it adopted a novel approach for the world of higher learning. It combined theoretical knowledge with hands-on learning and emphasized research and teaching equally. It was exactly what the United States needed to help ignite the country's Industrial Revolution.
Today, MIT remains unrivaled when it comes to the basic and applied research needed to address the complex challenges of this century. It is on the forefront of advancements in areas such as energy, climate change, disease, and poverty alleviation. At 150 years old, it shows no signs of slowing down.
I was lucky enough to take a few courses at MIT when I was studying next door at Harvard. And over the past three decades, I've visited MIT many times and have always been impressed with the caliber of its students, professors, and academic leaders. It's remarkable to think that 76 current and former MIT members are Nobel Prize recipients.
Many other MIT faculty and graduates have distinguished themselves in their fields. In the late 19th century, Ellen Swallow Richards, the first woman to graduate from MIT, pioneered water-quality testing in the United States. A.D. Little, a member of the class of 1885, discovered important uses for cellulose acetate and went on to establish the country's first management consulting firm. Pierre S. du Pont, who earned a chemistry degree at MIT in 1890, played a key role in the growth of his family's chemical company and the US automotive industry.