California Institute of Technology by caltech caltech

The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) is a world-renowned science and engineering research and education institution, where extraordinary faculty and students seek answers to complex questions, discover new knowledge, lead innovation, and transform our future.

About Caltech

Caltech's 124-acre campus is located in Pasadena, California.

The mission of the California Institute of Technology is to expand human knowledge and benefit society through research integrated with education. We investigate the most challenging, fundamental problems in science and technology in a singularly collegial, interdisciplinary atmosphere, while educating outstanding students to become creative members of society.

Fun Facts

  • The Caltech mascot is the beaver—an homage to nature's engineer.
  • Caltech's founding fathers—astronomer George Ellery Hale, physicist Robert Andrews Millikan, and chemist Arthur Amos Noyes—were nicknamed "Tinker, Thinker, and Stinker."
  • Caltech is a certified olive-oil distributor. Since 2007, the campus has hosted fall olive harvest festivals to collect as much as 2,600 pounds of olives from the trees along the famed Olive Walk. The olives yield anywhere from 50 to 150 gallons of oil depending on the year.
  • The annual Pumpkin Drop takes place at midnight on Halloween, when students drop pumpkins frozen in liquid nitrogen from the top of Millikan Library to see if they'll give off a brief glow as they hit the ground and shatter.
  • When the Museum of Hoaxes's website published a list of the top 10 college pranks of all time, Caltech was the only school to be listed twice.
  • Each House at Caltech has a fully stocked kitchen. Whether you're craving cereal, fresh fruit, pasta, soup, or ice cream, they've got it all!
  • Millikan Library is one of the most-often-shaken buildings in the world, as Caltech's seismologists use it to test earthquake detectors and to gather other types of seismological data.
  • In 2006, the U.S. Postal Service issued a set of limited-edition stamps featuring photos of snowflakes taken by Caltech physics professor Ken Libbrecht.
  • The cannon outside Fleming House is actually fired a handful of times throughout the year. We won't tell you when; just be prepared!
  • Residents of Blacker House are known as "moles"—named for the unit of measurement, not the underground creatures.
  • Every Thursday, Caltech's physicists and their students take a cookie break.
  • Robert Andrews Millikan was Caltech's first Nobel Prize winner, becoming a laureate in 1923.
  • Every morning during finals week, at 7 a.m. on the dot, Richard Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" is played at an ear-splitting volume.
  • Rumor has it that the largest In-N-Out burger ever prepared was made for Caltech students.
  • Residents of Page House sometimes have a barbecue on the bridge outside Millikan Library to celebrate the end of the quarter.
  • Caltech's motto is "The truth shall make you free."
  • The photocopying technique known as xerography was developed by a Caltech alum in 1938.
  • To celebrate the end of Daylight Savings Time each year, Techers try to pull a negative-time Tommy's run: The goal is to drive downtown, eat a burger at the original Tommy's, and arrive back on campus before they left.
  • The Emmy-nominated television series, The Big Bang Theory, which is set at Caltech, taped an episode on campus that featured a cameo appearance by world-renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking.
  • Over the years, the Caltech campus has made cameo appearances in several well-known TV shows and movies, including The X-Files, The West Wing, Legally Blonde, Entourage, and Mission: Impossible, among others.
  • Approved PE classes at Caltech include Ultimate Frisbee, table tennis, and power walking.
  • You can get a late-night caffeine fix at the student-run coffee shop at the Red Door Café, which is open from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., Sunday through Thursday during the school year.