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Harvey Mudd College

Harvey Mudd College is a small college (approximately 800 students) located in Claremont, California. It is focused on science and engineering, and offers four-year degrees in chemistry, mathematics, physics, computer science, biology, engineering, as well as interdisciplinary degrees in mathematical biology and CS/math. Students may also elect to complete an Independent Program of Study made up of courses of their own choosing. Usually between two and five students graduate with an IPS degree each year. Finally, students may choose an off-campus major offered by any of the other Claremont Colleges, provided they also complete a minor in one of the technical fields in which Mudd offers majors. A Masters in Engineering is also offered in partnership with Claremont Graduate University, but this is only open to students who have already completed an Engineering B.S. from the school. Harvey Mudd places an unusually strong emphasis on general science education outside one's major, with a full one-third of courses in this area, known as the "common core." Students are required to take another third of their courses in the humanities, keeping with the school's tradition of science with a conscience.

Harvey Mudd College is within walking distance of the other Claremont Colleges, and students at these colleges may take classes at any of them, though classes in the student's major are normally taken at their own college.

Athletics teams from Claremont McKenna College[?], Harvey Mudd College and Scripps College[?] compete as one team. Male athletic teams are called the Stags, and women's teams are called the Athenas. The teams participate in the NCAA's Division III and in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

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Harvey Mudd College Dormitories Evidence that this is an engineering school: the original four dormitories at Mudd are known as North Dorm, South Dorm, East Dorm and West Dorm; when they added two more dorms they called them New Dorm and New II. When New II was being built some students decided as a prank to move all of the survey stakes exactly one meter East. They did such a precise job that the construction crew didn't notice until after they had laid the foundation, but California earthquake law forced them to reinspect the new location at some significant expense.

It is notable that South Dorm is in the Northwest corner of the quad. East was the first dorm, but it wasn't until West was built to the West of it that it was actually referred to as East. Then North was built to the North of East. Then, when a fourth dorm was built, there was one corner to put it and one directional name left. It got both. The fifth, sixth, and seventh dorms are Atwood, Case, and Linde, respectively. They are collectively referred to as the colonies by some students, a reference to the fact that they are newer and are at the far end of the campus, a full two blocks away from the academic buildings. The college recently purchased an apartment building adjacent to the newer dorms to house additional students.

Architecture One of the fun things about Mudd is that most of the computer labs, as well as the major social gathering point (the Muddhole), are located in the basements of the concrete-block buildings; i.e. much of what passes for social life (aside from parties discussed elsewhere) takes place underground. Most of these buildings are also covered with thousands of concrete "handholds", called "warts" by the students, perfectly suited for buildering[?], except that while some are set into the wall others are simply glued on. The unofficial mascot of Harvey Mudd (featured on many college handbooks and other publications) is one of these concrete blocks with a smile, arms, and legs, named "Wally the Wart".

Unicycles on Campus In the early 1970s the first unicycles came on campus. In 1972 there were 4 of them. The notion caught on, and there are now dozens of unicycles on campus, and for many students it is a "rite of passage" to learn to ride. (It's not as hard as it looks. Learning to ride a unicycle requires patience more than skill.) The unicycling club is known as Gonzo Unicycle Madness, and organizes an annual eight mile ride to a donut shop for strawberry donuts. At irregular intervals club members also meet to play unicycle hockey (no joke).

Rivalry with Caltech There is a long-standing rivalry between Harvey Mudd and the nearby Caltech; except this rivalry is basically unacknowledged by Caltech. For example, in one prank, students from Mudd "stole" a memorial cannon from Caltech (originally from the National Guard) by dressing as maintenance people and carting it off on a flatbed truck for "cleaning"; Caltech students got it back by having their school President threaten legal action. In another prank, Mudd students made a slight modification to a freeway sign indicating "California Institute of Technology / Pasadena City College / Next Exit". Their prank was quite subtle: they put parentheses around "Pasadena City College".

More Pranks Pranks at Harvey Mudd are known for being clever, amusing, technically precise, and reversible. One student returned from a long weekend away to discover his room filled from floor to ceiling with inflated plastic garbage bags. The pranksters had used high-powered fans to inflate them. Once the Dean of Students discovered that some Mudders had moved everything in his office exactly 20 meters south of its original location - placing it on the grass in the middle of campus. Everything in his office was perfectly organized and functional - even his telephone and Internet connection worked. It was a pleasant day, so he spent the day outside.

Famous Alumni

  • Don Chamberlin, 1966, co-inventor of SQL (database query language) and IBM representative to the working group developing the XML query language.
  • Bruce Nelson, 1974, inventor of the remote procedure call.
  • George Pinky Nelson, 1972, astronaut.

More Trivia

  • Harvey Mudd leads the nation in percentage of graduates who go on to earn the Ph.D - well over 40% in recent years. Over 65% go on to earn at least a Master's degree.

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