Many famous scientists and engineers have attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT):  astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Ronald McNair, Nobel laureates Richard Feynman and Paul Krugman, world leaders Benjamin Netanyahu, and Kofi Annan. For this year’s Pi Day (3/14), MIT is saluting a fictional student, Riri Williams, aka Ironheart from Marvel Comics.


In a brief video entitled “Not all heroes wear capes — but some carry tubes,” MIT celebrates Pi Day and honors one of its most famous fictional students, Riri Williams. MIT also announces its diversity by featuring an African-American female student as the heart (the Ironheart, if you’ll forgive the pun) of its student body.  Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations.  That’s an idea science fiction fans have been endorsing for decades.

Pi Day is important to MIT students and staff for many reasons.  First, the month and date form the first three digits of pi (3.1415926535897932384626433832795), an irrational number dear to any scientist’s heart.  (We’ve only given the first few digits here.  Pi goes on into infinity.)  Second, Pi Day, March 14, is when applicants to MIT learn whether or not they will become students of MIT come fall.  Third, the Pi Day videos are used to recruit new students to the university.  Fourth, any excuse to eat pie is a good one.

Image via Marvel Comics

The student-made video stars Ayomide F.,  Class of 2018, as Riri Williams, as she takes the Iron Man armor from sketches in a notepad to holographic design to a test flight.  Stu Schmill, the MIT Dean of Admissions, plays himself in the three minute video. The video was produced by Cowboy L. , Class of 2020, and Loren S., Class of 2017.  It was directed by Chris Peterson SM,  Class of 2013, and Selam G,  Class of 2018. There is no dialogue, only the music of Ennio Morricone’s “L’estasi Dell’oro.” The video invites applicants to MIT to go to at 6:28 pm Eastern time on 3.14.17, when admissions decisions will be released.

“Not all heroes wear capes — but some carry tubes” shows female professors, male and female students, including whites, Hispanics, African-Americans, and hijabi women. On February 26 Nigerian engineer Celestine Omin was told he didn’t look like an engineer and required to solve software problems before he was allowed to pass through JFK Airport.  MIT thinks that engineers and scientists look like Mary Jackson of Hidden Figures, like Srinivas Kuchibhotla, like Ellen Ochoa, like Katharine Dexter McCormick, like Jimmy Carter, and like Albert Einstein.  Massachusetts Institute of Technology is interested in students’ brain power, not their race, gender, or religion.

There is also a making-of video, called “Behind the Scenes: Pi Day 2017,”  which contains some bloopers.

As always, be sure to pause the music stream while you watch these.



Susan Macdonald

Susan Macdonald

Susan Macdonald is the author of the children’s book “R is for Renaissance Faire”, as well as 26 short stories, mostly fantasy in “Alternative Truths”, “Swords and Sorceress #30”, Swords &Sorceries Vols. 1, 2, & 5, “Cat Tails” “Under Western Stars”, and “Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid”. Her articles have appeared on’s web site, in The Inquisitr, and in The Millington Star. She enjoys Renaissance Faires (see book above), science fiction conventions,  Highland Games, and Native American pow-wows.