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In 1941, Vannevar Bush was appointed head of the federal Office of Scientific Research and Development and directed funding to only a select group of universities, including MIT.Engineers and scientists from across the country gathered at MIT's Radiation Laboratory, established in 1940 to assist the British military in developing microwave radar.The work done there significantly affected both the war and subsequent research in the area....a special type of educational institution which can be defined as a university polarized around science, engineering, and the arts.

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The true and only practicable object of a polytechnic school is, as I conceive, the teaching, not of the minute details and manipulations of the arts, which can be done only in the workshop, but the inculcation of those scientific principles which form the basis and explanation of them, and along with this, a full and methodical review of all their leading processes and operations in connection with physical laws.

In the 1930s, President Karl Taylor Compton and Vice-President (effectively Provost) Vannevar Bush emphasized the importance of pure sciences like physics and chemistry and reduced the vocational practice required in shops and drafting studios.

Still, as late as 1949, the Lewis Committee lamented in its report on the state of education at MIT that "the Institute is widely conceived as basically a vocational school", a "partly unjustified" perception the committee sought to change.

The MIT Engineers compete in 31 sports, most teams of which compete in the NCAA Division III's New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference, whereas the Division I rowing programs compete as part of the EARC and EAWRC.

As of 2017, 88 Nobel laureates, 52 National Medal of Science recipients, 65 Marshall Scholars, 45 Rhodes Scholars, 38 Mac Arthur Fellows, 34 astronauts, 21 Turing award winners, 16 Chief Scientists of the U. Air Force and 6 Fields Medalists have been affiliated with MIT.


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