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I…am…Iron Man


After 141 days and 16 (fictional) alumni competing in 15 different matchups, the MIT/Cornell Fictional Alumni Face-Off has finally declared a winner.

So long, Sideshow Mel. Later, Lex Luthor. Adios, Andy Bernard. Safe travels, Sue Storm. Only one fictional alumnus remains. Cue the music.

In the tournament final, which saw MIT battle MIT, “Iron Man” Tony Stark narrowly edged out extraterrestrial entrepreneur Ellie Arroway. The Cornell Alumni Association, who felt Stark’s ability to inspire outweighed Arroway’s achievements and his own flaws, made the final call.

“While Cornell is still not convinced either of these two MIT alums offer more than any Cornellian, we have judged this championship match-up objectively. Certainly both characters embody leadership and the ability to inspire others, but only one has something tangible to show for their efforts. While Ellie is a likable person who was ridiculed for her devotion to her craft, she returned from space with nothing more than a couple hours of static. Her tale presents a good enough lesson for the masses, but at the end of the day, your ability to inspire is only as good as the results.

Now enter Mr. Stark. Yes, he’s brash and was born with a silver spoon, but like most historic leaders, he used a moment of humility to transform his perception of the world and become a force for good.  The womanizing, drinking, and disregard for authority might be flaws to some, but if you dig through the history books, you’ll find that many iconic leaders shared many of those same traits. Stark does possess a large ego but with that comes the courage to use his skills to defend mankind. His success is well documented and has benefited millions of people. Ms. Arroway, while a trailblazer in her own right, just can’t rally the troops quite like Iron Man.”

When asked which person would most successfully guide others to greatness, supporters of both sides had valid points. The pro-Stark camp cited his well-rounded résumé as reason to give him the nod over Arroway. Plus, being a superhero never hurts either.

“Starks embodies our heritage as MIT alums whose persistence to creativeness, engineering, and versatility would be inclusive of Ellie’s SETI expertise. True, her character is portrayed as a gifted scientist; however, Stark’s quick-fostering of information gives way to the very things Ellie would need to possess and more.” – Anthony

“Tony Stark was one of the founding members of the Avengers, otherwise known as Earth’s mightiest heroes. If THAT doesn’t qualify as greatness, I’m not sure what does.” – Dora

“I just finished the 3rd collection of “Ultimate Comics Spider-Man” in which, among other events, Tony Stark/Iron Man takes Peter Parker/Spider man out for a day of superhero training. I do not know Ellie having a similar example. So by the evidence I’ve seen, Stark.” – Justin

Arroway’s supporters fought back, noting her level-headed personality would be much better suited to guided other to greatness than the self-absorbed, often-inebriated Stark.

“But when it comes to guiding others to greatness, Stark is way too much of a narcissist to win in this head-to-head competition. Ellie Arroway would be the one to inspire people to think about big ideas and do great things. She loves science and loves to think about the big questions in life.” – DeanC

“While I’d rather be in the company of a globe-trotting robot-designing billionaire like Messrs. Stark, he is too self-absorbed and intermittently drunk to guide anyone. Ms. Arroway is equally as arrogant, but her lack of celebrity status may humble her enough to help others out.” – Kamil

“Ellie Arroway, integrity of action in the face of so many doubters.” – Barbara

In the end, Tony Stark himself may have best summed up his victory in his movie Iron Man.

“A wise man once asked, ‘Is it better to be feared or respected?’ I say is it too much to ask for both?”

Due to Stark’s victory, MIT will take ownership of the soon-to-be-constructed Social Media Cup trophy. Cornell must now produce a video that pays homage to both Tony Stark and MIT (and promote the video on the Cornell Alumni Association Facebook page). Stay tuned!

MIT and Cornell have some impressive alumni, both real and imagined. Thank you to everyone who made participated in this tournament and made it a success.

Championships: Ellie Arroway vs. Tony Stark

This is it, folks. The finals are here, and it’s MIT vs. MIT. Who will take home the top prize? To vote, simply answer the following question:

Which person, if real, would most successfully guide others to greatness and why?

MIT-Cornell Fictional Alumni Face-Off final round

Cast your vote three ways:

  • Submit your answer in the comments of this post
  • Respond via the MIT Facebook page
  • Tweet using the hashtag #MITCU

Need some inspiration? Learn more about Ellie Arroway and Tony Stark.

As before, judges will be looking for posts that are clever, witty, absurd, and downright ridiculous. The more entertaining they find your comment to be, the more likely it will tip the scale in favor of your alma mater. Voting ends each Friday at noon ET.

An Internship at Stark Industries? Sign us up.

The long road to the MIT/Cornell Fictional Alumni Faceoff championship is complete and it’s an all-MIT final round. In perhaps the most spirited round of back-and-forth comments to date, Tony Stark edged Charles Foster Kane as the best choice for professor or guest lecturer.

Voters cited research opportunities, in-class experiments, and a possible internship at Stark Industries as the best reasons to enroll in a Stark-taught class.

“(Stark’s) drive would serve well as an example to all students. Don’t let things like the laws of physics get in the way! Go out and be the change you want to see. Oh, and a powered tactical exo-suit designed for use in extreme extra-planetary environments is sweet. Can’t wait for his next big invention, he might even hire some of us grad students to work on it.” - Joe

“A guest lecture by a billionaire playboy philanthropist who’s qualified to teach grad classes in course II, III, VI, VIII, XV, and XVIII, and literally manufactured a new atomic element in his basement? Sign me up.” – Kevin

“…he’s got some serious technical chops, knows a lot of science and engineering, works his butt off when he has an idea. When shown that his inventions are contributing to human suffering, he does something about it. That drive and knowledge means he has a lot more to contribute to a lecture than a journalist of questionable morals.”  – Cat

“He would be able to give clear, real-world applications for the subject matter. In addition to being a genius he’s handsome, making for a much more pleasant hour or so in the lecture hall.” – Donna

For the first time in the tournament, Charles Foster Kane’s encountered an opponent who wasn’t intimidated by his vast fortune or media power. But with unique life experiences and a professional media background, he did have support.

“Professor Kane is classy, intelligent, and humorous and hands down the best single source of current affairs on the planet. And the best part? Sliding down Libe slope on Rosebud.” – Div

The final round is set: Engineer versus Engineer. Who will MIT support? Will Cornell add its input and sway to vote? What’s a better movie, “Iron Man” or “Contact?” Check back on Monday as the championship round begins!

Semifinals, Week 14: Charles Foster Kane vs. Tony Stark

To vote, simply answer the following question:

Which person, if real, would make the best professor or guest lecturer—and why?

Cast your vote three ways:

  • Submit your answer in the comments of this post
  • Respond via the Cornell or MIT Facebook pages
  • Tweet using the hashtag #MITCU

Need some inspiration? Learn more about Charles Foster Kane and Tony Stark.

As before, judges will be looking for posts that are clever, witty, absurd, and downright ridiculous. The more entertaining they find your comment to be, the more likely it will tip the scale in favor of your alma mater. Voting ends each Friday at noon ET.

“Intro. to Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence” is Now in Session

Throughout the MIT/Cornell Fictional Alumni Face-Off, Sideshow Mel defied the odds. He defeated Dilbert in round one, and scored the upset of the tournament when he vanquished Lex Luthor in round two. Sadly, the tournament clock has struck midnight, and his Cinderella run has come to an end.

When asked who would make the best professor or guest lecturer, voters overwhelming chose MIT’s Ellie Arroway. Voters cited her professional background, real-world experience, and her depth of knowledge on extra-terrestrial life, moving Ellie to the Face-Off’s final round.

Voters seemed genuinely excited about the prospect of a potential Professor Arroway, and envisioned potential class titles and research opportunities.

…Arroway has real-world experience to expand her knowledge, and that’s always been the most valuable thing to me when attending classes or guest lectures. I expect a lecture from her would have more depth and better grounds for interaction with an academic audience. – Cat

Let us posit that college kids are like aliens (they are). Then Arroway has the lead as she’s already demonstrated the ability to decipher alien messages. This key communication capability would put her at the head of the class (hah!) even if she didn’t already have the points for, wait for it, her ability to handle complex electronics and computer equipment. – Joe

Ellie Arroway is an accomplished astrophysicist and cosmologist who made contact with extraterrestrial life! Mel is a warm-up act at a circus, and a pretty crummy one at that. Now, of course, not all researchers make good professors, but Dr. Arroway defended her points and causes tirelessly and eloquently. She would make the better professor/lecturer, hands down. – Sven

As a presenter, Sideshow Mel is replicable, and unlike Sideshow Bob, we have no reason to think that Mel has the underlying theory mastered to the level of being able to pass it on. Ellie, in addition to having unique experiences in applied xeno-psychology that no one else on earth has, is a master of applied signals processing and pattern filtering, an expertise that would let her teach at the grad level, and a passion for sharing her interests that would help her both educate and inspi   re undergraduate students. – Justin     

Sideshow Mel’s supporters cited his humor, and the potential for an easy A, as the best reasons to take his class.

If RateMyProfessors.com is anything to go by, Sideshow Mel is clearly the kind of professor that university students would love. Also, his easy course would soon become the most popular one on campus, be it in Cornell or MIT. – Div

Who will Ellie meet in the final round? Check back in Monday for the Face-Off’s “Battle of the Billionaires.”  Will it be an all MIT final, or will Charles F. Kane use his wealth and power to tip the scales once again?

Semifinals, Week 13: Sideshow Mel vs. Ellie Arroway

Round three has begun! Note the new question you must respond to in order to vote.

To vote, simply answer the following question:

Which person, if real, would make the best professor or guest lecturer—and why?

Cast your vote three ways:

  • Submit your answer in the comments of this post
  • Respond via the Cornell or MIT Facebook pages
  • Tweet using the hashtag #MITCU

Need some inspiration? Learn more about Sideshow Mel and Ellie Arroway.

As before, judges will be looking for posts that are clever, witty, absurd, and downright ridiculous. The more entertaining they find your comment to be, the more likely it will tip the scale in favor of your alma mater. Voting ends each Friday at noon ET.

Kane Weathers the Storm: Cornellian Vanquishes Superhero, Advances to Semi-Finals

After a long holiday hiatus, the MIT/Cornell fictional feud was back in action this week and featured two characters of very different film fame. For MIT, it was Sus Storm, the invisible woman who is as famous for her time in the “Fantastic Four” as she is in her fantastic costume. As for Cornell, the Big Red were represented by Charles Foster Kane, a cinema icon who isn’t afraid to be lonely at the top as long as he can have his childhood sled when it’s all said and done. Certainly, both of these characters would have something to offer as a housemate. The MIT alumni community argued Storm was the obvious choice because her superhero powers would make living with her fun and exciting, not to mention the people she associates with would be fun company. Cornell focused on the luxury and influence that would come with living amongst Kane’s wealth and power. Both schools made compelling arguments for their fictional fellow alumnus, but in the end, it came down to who our Columbia University judge would select. Here’s the verdict:

There are several good points about why Sue Storm would make an idea roommate: she’d kick butt, has hot friends and can easily disappear. And cool MIT co-eds are rare, as noted. But you have to compare her against Charles Foster Kane. Rich. You’d have an amazingly stocked wine bar and have expensive parties. And when looking at Sue Storm, she is not the first superhero you think of. When you think of great movie title characters, Charles Foster Kane is on the top of the list. And look at the legacy you’d have if one day you said your roommate was Charles Foster Kane. He has been an icon for 70 years. And 50 years from now, you can say your roommate was Sue Storm and you’d probably get a “who?” Charles Foster Kane will still be great 50 years from now.

The gavel has been lowered and it’s Cornell’s Citizen Kane that enters the semi-finals. Here’s a look at a few highlights that convinced the judge to side with Rosebud:

It is no contest. Have you seen the interior designing that Kane enjoyed at Xanadu. He would bring such luxury and accommodations to any house he inhabited. What privacy would someone have with Sue Storm who can hide herself in any location at will? Also, if she mismanages her powers, she could cause many of her housemate’s things to become lost as they would disappear from sight while she was near them. She would want to be able to have her friends and family visit. Does anyone think that a house would withstand a weekend with both Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm visiting. The house would become structurally unsound or ablaze within a matter of hours of both being there. Kane’s one quirk? He likes to keep a rickety old sled in the corner. Vintage chic anyone? – Aaron

Kane works 20-hour days. He would pay his share of the rent and never be home. That makes him an ideal housemate as long as you’re not also looking for a friend. He’d never notice if I borrowed his sled. He’s not really attached to that thing, is he? – David

As ZZ Top says “They come runnin’ just as fast as they cancause every girl is crazy ’bout a sharp dressed man.” Charles Foster Kane gets my vote! And frankly, what good is a genetics researcher as as housemate? Does she do windows? – Elizabeth

MIT certainly made several good arguments for Sue Storm, including this gem from Hal:

I vote for Sue Storm. Several reasons: 1. When I was an undergrad, the male-female ratio was 17-1, so, from a housemate point of view, I’m in favor of improving that demographic. Also, a good housemate ought to enhance social events in the house. Sue has this really great party trick (where’d she go?) that is sure to delight visitors. Plus, she’s a very talented scientist, and would likely help a lot with problem sets. And in contrast, Kane is a yellow journalist, much more prone to sensationalism than well documented facts in his papers, and I suspect that would conflict with my engineer mentality. SO, when can Sue move in?

The Big Red win means it’s an even field for the semi-finals as both schools have two people remaining in the tournament. The final four is here and it all begins Monday as MIT’s space-obsessed scientist Ellie Arroway, collides with cartoon Cornellian Side Show Mel. It’s science vs. slap-stick and you can bet these respective alumni communities are ready to drop the gloves…

Quarterfinals, Week 12: Charles Foster Kane vs. Sue Storm

To vote, simply answer the following question:

Which person, if real, would make the best housemate—and why?

Cast your vote three ways:

  • Submit your answer in the comments of this post
  • Respond via the Cornell or MIT Facebook pages
  • Tweet using the hashtag #MITCU

This week’s judge: Columbia University Alumni Association. Twitter: @ColumbiaAlumniA.

MIT-Cornell Fictional Alumni Face-Off Week 12
Need some inspiration? Learn more about Charles Foster Kane and Sue Storm.

As before, judges will be looking for posts that are clever, witty, absurd, and downright ridiculous. The more entertaining they find your comment to be, the more likely it will tip the scale in favor of your alma mater. Voting ends each Friday at noon ET.

If You Need a Roommate, He Might As Well Be Rich

Two things that we learned in this week’s matchup: Tony Stark and David Levinson have their faults and neither would be the ideal roommate. In the end, the MIT-versus-MIT battle came down to the lesser of two evils. In this case, the lesser evil was wealth, and in turn, billionaire playboy Tony Stark.

Guest judges from the Princeton Alumni Association summed it up nicely:

“Tony Stark is a drunken playboy with a limitless bank account, the coolest high-tech toys around, and the best means to destroy any supervillain. In stark contrast is the down-to-earth, earth-friendly David Levinson, a mopey divorcee who could guarantee you’ll never have to battle aliens with limited computing skills or the big, bad cable company. So who would make the better housemate? A superhero whose purpose is to save the world day after day versus a tech whiz who made a lucky guess about how to save the world by uploading a computer virus?

Neither household would be a fortress of solitude. Living in Stark’s lavish cliffside mansion, you’d face endless explosions, parties, a riffraff of colleagues, and stray evening guests. In Levinson’s eco-friendly New York apartment, you’d face the hum of computers and the drone of David’s ever-present father.

Since ill-fated launches and experiments are nothing new to MIT alumni — and since Tony could certainly afford to replace anything of yours he may have obliterated — we’ll take the exciting uncertainty of life by the beach with Stark versus the monotony of life in the big city with David and his nagging dad.

Plus, if Stark is good enough for the guys of The Big Bang Theory, he’s good enough for us.”

Their favorite pro-Stark sentiments:

“I spent more money replacing windows in East Campus — thanks to ill-fated launches and explosions — than I spent on textbooks. As a result, I don’t really see Stark’s ill-fated experiments as a big problem. I guess to each his own.” – Charles

“Leonard Hofstadter: If we do get a new friend he should be a guy you can trust. A guy who has your back.
Howard Wolowitz: And he should have a lot of money and live in a cool place down by the beach where we could throw parties.
Sheldon Cooper: He should share our love of technology.
Howard Wolowitz: And he should know a lot of women.
Leonard Hofstadter: Let’s see: money, women, technology. Okay, we’re agreed. Our new friend is going to be… Iron Man.” – Catherine

“So honestly, they would both be bad housemates. Tony is a drunk who has too many late night parties, and David is a neurotic mess. While Tony does have better tech toys, he does not let anyone else play with his real tech. To me, it comes down to who else is likely to be visiting. David’s dad would always show up to nag his son (and his new friend smokes cigars, which I don’t want in my house). On the other hand, with Tony, you have Pepper Pots popping over to pay the bills, Rhodes to drive Tony home when he is drunk, and an assortment of interesting visitors who come over. So Tony Stark, by his extended social network.” – Justin

“Following up on Justin’s astute analysis, we know from Numb3rs that having one of Judd Hirsch’s characters loitering around the house can give the place a cosy family feel, but it gets old fast, whereas a smartass AI with an english accent never, ever gets old. Has to be Stark.” – Loren

“Tony Stark – he may mess up the room, hell the whole building, but he’ll build you a better one the next day :)” - Hari

“Both should lose for being self-centered, arrogant, egotistical snobs. But at least Tony admits it and could lend you one of his 50 cars to impress a date. You’d have to share a broken down pickup truck with Judd Hirsch if you lived with David. Go with Tony, the lesser of two evils.” – Trynka

It’s tough to go against The Big Bang Theory, but the judges were impressed with the following support for David Levinson:

“Immature Tony would keep bringing girls, booze and supervillians to the house, and keep the first two to himself. David would, well, make sure the TV’s working. Now that’s a good housemate!” – Div

The Face-Off will take a holiday hiatus and return on Monday, January 9, 2012, where we’ll conclude Round 2. Will wealth win out again, or will voters prefer a roommate who’s…invisible? Happy New Year!

Quarterfinals, Week 11: Tony Stark vs. David Levinson

To vote, simply answer the following question:

Which person, if real, would make the best housemate—and why?

Cast your vote three ways:

  • Submit your answer in the comments of this post
  • Respond via the Cornell or MIT Facebook pages
  • Tweet using the hashtag #MITCU

This week’s judge: Princeton University Alumni Association. Twitter: @princetonalumni.

MIT-Cornell Fictional Alumni Face-Off

Need some inspiration? Learn more about Tony Stark and David Levinson.

As before, judges will be looking for posts that are clever, witty, absurd, and downright ridiculous. The more entertaining they find your comment to be, the more likely it will tip the scale in favor of your alma mater. Voting ends each Friday at noon ET.

  • Congrats, Tony Stark!

    Tournament brackets

    Click to enlarge. See full brackets below.

  • What's at stake?
    The winning school will take ownership of the soon-to-be-constructed Social Media Cup trophy.

    The losing school will be forced to produce a video that pays homage to both the tournament winner and his or her alma mater and promote the video on their own Facebook page.

  • Check out the complete brackets

    Tournament brackets

    Click to enlarge

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