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10 MIT Notable Alumni You Need to Know About

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MIT, formally known as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is a well-renowned and highly ranked university in the United States. Located right next to Boston, MIT ranked #3 in U.S. New’s 2020 Best College Rankings. When you attend MIT, you have access to an impressive research facility, distinguished faculty, and an impressive alumni network. In fact, some of the MIT alumni are people that you might recognize from your everyday life. Keep reading to learn about the most famous MIT alumni from different walks of life.


10 MIT Notable Alumni You Need to Know About


1. Charles Koch

Class Year: 1957 

Known For: American Businessman and Political Donor 


Gavin Peters. CC BY-SA 3.0.


Charles Koch is one of the co-owners and CEO’s of Koch Industries, which specializes in oil refining and chemicals. Before all that, he received a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from MIT in 1957, as well as two Masters of Science from MIT in 1958 and 1960. While attending MIT, he was a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity. After graduation, he inherited and expanded his company with his brother. His company manufactures products for some of the top products in the world such as Quilted Northern and Dixie Cup. In March 2019, he was ranked as the 11th richest person in the world. 


2. Dianna Cowern

Class Year: 2011

Known For: YouTuber


Dianna Cowern is a well-known YouTuber who explains physical phenomena for the channel Physics Girl, a PBS Digital Studios Channel. Born and raised in Hawaii, she studied physics at MIT and graduated in 2011. After graduation, she started uploading science videos to YouTube while working at General Electric. Her videos have been featured in the Huffington Post, Slate, and Scientific American. She was also listed under Forbes 30 under 30 in the education field. 


3. I.M. Pei

Class Year: 1940

Known For: Architect 


The famous architect attended MIT in the late 1930’s and earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Architecture in 1940. While he was at the university, he found himself uninspired by the Beaux-Arts school that was the focus of the architecture department. Instead, he was inspired by the International Style of design, learning from architects like Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright. With his degree from MIT, he went on to design some of the most famous buildings in the world, such as the Louvre Pyramid in Paris and the East Wing of the National Gallery in Washington D.C. 


4. Katharine McCormick 

Class Year: 1904

Known For: Biology


George Grantham Bain Collection at the Library of Congress.


You may not know this alumna off the top of your head, but she has certainly had a large impact on many women’s lives to this day. Katharine McCormick graduated from MIT in 1904, earning a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology. While she attended university, she made strides for women’s rights. For instance, female students at MIT used to be required to wear feathered hats. McCormick refused, arguing that the hats were a fire hazard in the laboratories. Thanks to her, the policy was overturned. Post-graduation, this suffragette helped to develop the first birth control pill in the 1960s. 


5. Salman Khan 

Class Year: 1998

Known For: Founder of Khan Academy


Steve Jurvetson. CC BY 2.0


After graduating as valedictorian from Grace King High School, Salman Khan attended MIT in the late 1990’s and graduated with an astounding three majors (Electrical Engineering, Computer Science, and Mathematics), on top of serving as Class President during his senior year. In 2003, he began working on a YouTube channel that would later turn into the free online education platform, Khan Academy. In 2012, Salman Khan was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the world. 

6. Andrea Wong

Class Year: 1988

Known For: President, International for Sony Pictures, President and CEO of Lifetime Networks 


Andrea Wong is one of the great masterminds behind some of America’s favorite reality shows. Before all that, she graduated from MIT with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering before earning an MBA at Stanford. Since then, she has produced shows like The Bachelor, Dancing With The Stars, and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Her shows have won multiple Emmy and Golden Globe Awards. 


7. Drew Houston

Class Year: 2005

Known For: CEO, Dropbox 


JD Lasica. CC BY 2.0.


In 2007, Drew Houston co-founded an online file hosting service with Arash Ferdowsi. This successful entrepreneur graduated from MIT with a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. During his time in college, he co-founded an SAT Prep company and was a member of the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity. Houston has since returned to MIT to deliver the 2013 Commencement Speaker at his alma mater.


8. Richard Feynman

Class Year: 1939

Known For: Physicist, The Manhattan Project 


Unknown author, public domain.


Richard Feynman was a driven and intelligent man at a young age, teaching himself complex mathematics like differential and integral calculus before he attended MIT. When he first joined the university, he wanted to study Mathematics. He then switched to Electrical Engineering, claiming that Mathematics was “too abstract.” Finally, he graduated in 1939 with a degree in physics. With that degree, he went on to become a Nobel Prize-winning theoretical physicist, known for his work in quantum mechanics, quantum electrodynamics, and more. However, he is most well known for his work on the Manhattan Project during World War II, helping create the first atomic bomb.


9. Ivan Getting

Class Year: 1933

Known For: Developed the GPS 


Ivan Getting was a brilliant physicist and electrical engineer, and his MIT education was likely instrumental in his success. He studied physics at MIT and graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in 1933. He then went on to develop a system that allowed anti-aircraft guns to destroy German flying bombs during World War II. Most famously, he is credited with the development of the Global Positioning System, commonly known as the abbreviated GPS. 


10. Ilene S. Gordon

Class Year: 1975

Known For: CEO, President and Chairman of Ingredion 


Ilene S. Gordon is a powerful female entrepreneur who founded Ingredion, an ingredient provider specializing in starches. She earned her Bachelor’s of Science in Mathematics as well as her Master’s of Science degree from MIT. While she was earning her bachelor’s, she wanted to become a math teacher, but she was inspired by the other female students in her class to change course and pursue her master’s. She is well known for her success as an entrepreneur and was in Fortune Magazine’s list of 50 Most Powerful Women in 2015. 


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Sadhvi Mathur
Senior Blogger

Short Bio
Sadhvi is a recent graduate from the University of California, Berkeley, where she double majored in Economics and Media Studies. Having applied to over 8 universities, each with different application platforms and requirements, she is eager to share her knowledge now that her application process is over. Other than writing, Sadhvi's interests include dancing, playing the piano, and trying not to burn her apartment down when she cooks!