30 December 2011

Muddy Charles Pub ~ MIT Extracurricular Hub!

Nice short piece in the latest Tech Review by Kenrick Vezina on The storied past and uncertain future of the Muddy Charles: A Physicist Walks into a Bar...
"On a campus dominated by cold concrete and hard science, the Muddy Charles pub exudes warmth [and] welcomes Nobel laureates and graduate students alike. [...] Begun as a Friday afternoon club, the pub became an official MIT institution (and got its current name) when the Graduate Student Council began running it in 1968. Roughly equidistant from many major departments at MIT, the Muddy pulls together people from across campus [...] The combination of cheap drinks and big ideas draws a smart, eclectic crowd and prompted Media Lab lecturer Joost Bonsen '90, SM '06, to hold his informal venture capital meet-and-greets there. (Bonsen was among the "venture catalysts" in Venture Café, a book about high-tech entrepreneurs that puts the Muddy on its list of places where great ideas can meet great funding.) Bonsen points to MIT's Energy Club as an example of a big idea hatched at the pub. Now one of MIT's largest clubs, it was originally "a small group of students who gathered over beer at the Muddy once a week to talk about various energy topics" [Indeed, the pub is] "a crucial aspect of the MIT experience." As of November, [ill-considered] plans to renovate Walker [and kick out the pub] were still up in the air, leaving the Muddy's fate uncertain. Yet one thing is clear: athletes, teachers, and scholars all feel welcome there, and the people who find their way inside seem to end up with a lifelong affection for the place."
It's a wonderful venue for ethanol-fueled ideation and creativity! Indeed, the Muddy is perhaps the single most important piece of extracurricular infrastructure at MIT and yet our current Institute senior administration is quite clueless about its legacy. Not only was the MIT Energy Club born there, but also the MIT Energy Conference, TechLink, TinyTech Club, Acoustic BBQ, i-Teams class, project collaboration, multiple startup companies, and more, nevermind all the Welcome-to-MIT initiations, PhD defense celebrations, alum reunions. We'll see if those currently in power figures out that Walker Memorial really ought to be a graduate student, post-doc, and alumni center or something actually useful. In any case -- for now -- the Muddy is still serving affordable joy by the pint & pitcher!

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