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California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

Student life


Traditions abound at most colleges and universities, but at Caltech, they don't center around the typical fight songs and mascots. Common to many of the student houses is the tradition of sit-down dinners served by student waiters. The houses also each host an "interhouse" party during the year. Each house also has unique customs. The Flems, for instance, fire their cannon several times a year; every Halloween, Dabney House stages a pumpkin drop from the top of Millikan Library, the highest point on campus; and before winter break, Lloyd House constructs a "light tree" on Millikan Library.


Pranks are common practice at Caltech, often involving rivalries between student houses. Techers have been known to take their hijinks off campus, as well. Here are some of their better-known pranks:

  • 1961: Caltech students altered the University of Washington's card stunts during the Rose Bowl Game to display "Caltech."
  • 1984: Students rewired the scoreboard during the Rose Bowl Game to show that Caltech was trouncing MIT (actually, UCLA was playing the University of Illi nois).
  • 1987: Our students changed the Hollywood sign to read "Caltech."
  • 2005: Caltech students handed out over 400 prank T-shirts at MIT's preview weekend.
  • 2014: The Prank Club erected a "PASADENA" sign in the hills overlooking the Rose Bowl; at halftime during the BCS Championship game, the sign changed to read "CALTECH" in bright orange lettering.
  • 2014: The Prank Club distributed heat-sensitive coffee mugs to MIT's admitted students.


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California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
1200 E California Blvd, Pasadena, California, United States
CA 91125
United States
United States
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+1 626-395-6811

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Caltech's 124-acre (50 ha) primary campus is located in Pasadena, California, approximately 11 miles (18 km) northeast of downtown Los Angeles. It is within walking distance of Old Town Pasadena and the Pasadena Playhouse District and therefore the two locations are frequent getaways for Caltech students.