We have a unique goal for this campaign — a historied number among mathematicians and computer engineers, and a playful Yellow Jacket homage to some of the Institute’s greatest historical accomplishments and milestones: 231-1 (or $2,147,483,647).
The number 2,147,483,647 is significant for several reasons:
- Mathematics: It is the eighth Mersenne prime and was the largest known prime number from 1772 to 1867.
- Computing: It is the largest value that a signed 32-bit integer field can hold.
- In video games, it is often used as a hard limit for various statistics, such as money or points.
- Unix Year 2038 problem (Y2K38): The latest time that can be properly encoded in systems that measure Unix time is 231-1 seconds after epoch, which is January 19, 2038 at 03:14:07 UTC.
The significance of "31" in Tech's history
Though relatively young compared to other world cities, Atlanta has punched above its weight in U.S. and world history. And Georgia Tech has been a part of that history, not as a passive bystander, but as a driving force.
In the 1870s, business leaders in Georgia endorsed a social and economic creed known as the New South, a proposal to modernize the region’s economy and prevalent social norms. It is during that time that the idea of creating an institute of technology emerged.
Three decades later, the Georgia School of Technology was fully operative in its current location. In 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt visited the School and spoke to students from the steps of Tech Tower. "America can be the first nation,” he said, "only by the kind of training and effort which is developed and is symbolized in institutions of this kind. . . . It is incumbent upon you to do well, not only for your individual sakes, but for the sake of that collective American citizenship which dominates the American nation.” This is an early reference to what has become the Institute’s mission, Progress and Service.
The next three decades saw the establishment of GTRI, then under the name Engineering Experiment Station, and the beginning of research as part of Georgia Tech’s mission. Since 1934, Georgia Tech has grown into the number one technological research institution in terms of research and development expenditures, number one among universities without a medical school, and top 20 overall.
Fast forward 31 years. It’s 1965, the year the Voting Rights Act, close on the heels of the Civil Rights Act, became federal law in the U.S. Here at Georgia Tech, it was the year Ronald Yancey became the first Black graduate of the Institute. During those years, changes in Atlanta were led by Mayor Ivan Allen Jr., a Georgia Tech alumnus who had convinced major businesses to integrate voluntarily and was the only white politician from the South who agreed to testify in Congress in favor of civil rights legislation. Since the 1960s, Georgia Tech has evolved into the largest producer of women and Black engineers in the country and has fully embraced, as part of its mission, expanding access to individuals from all backgrounds to careers in science and technology.
Fast forward another 31 years, to a major turning point in the history of Georgia Tech and the city of Atlanta: the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, which brought the world to our doorstep and ushered in a new era of international engagement along with reimagined, modern campus facilities.
In 2027 this campaign will conclude, 31 years after our Olympic moment. It will mark another significant milestone, capping off a period of unprecedented growth and global expansion, a rise through the higher ed rankings across the Institute, soaring sponsored research funding, and successively record-breaking capital campaigns under the leadership of Presidents G. Wayne Clough (1994-2008) and G.P. “Bud” Peterson (2009-2019).
This campaign will set us up for success for the next 31 years and beyond.