When alumnus Lou Metzger learned recently that he was the 40,000th person to register for the Infinite Connection, he said, "This is funny because I never win anything!"
Metzger, who holds several degrees in electrical engineering (S.B. 1971, S.M. 1971, E.E. 1971 and Ph.D. 1976), used the web to sign up for the Infinite Connection, MIT's suite of free online services for alumni. Originally started as E-mail Forwarding for Life in 1997, the Infinite Connection now comprises a range of services to help alumni stay connected with MIT from a distance. It also represents a significant online alumni community.
When he registered in October, Metzger was looking to update his address in the alumni records database. He and his family had just moved back to Wellesley from Washington, D.C., where Metzger served for two years as chief scientist for the Air Force.
"When it came time to send in a change of address, I said, 'I'll bet I could do this online,'" says Metzger. "It's just convenient to be able to do things on your own time, on your own schedule."
Services such as E-mail Forwarding for Life also offer alumni the convenience of one permanent e-mail address that forwards to up to five other addresses, which can also be updated online anytime.
Staying in contact with MIT is another benefit. Though he spent 10 years studying at MIT in the 1960s and 1970s and another nine years working at Lincoln Laboratory after he graduated, Metzger said he hasn't subsequently felt as connected to the Institute as he would like. He hopes to be able to attend more MIT seminars and events now that he's back in the Boston area. And now that he's a part of a burgeoning online alumni community, he can stay in touch with MIT just by sitting down at the computer.
A vice president at Mitre Corp. in Bedford, Metzger is a specialist in command/control and communications systems for military uses. During his two years at the Pentagon with the Air Force, he was a civilian advisor on new technology projects and new system ideas.
"With 40,000 members and growing, the Infinite Connection represents a tremendously powerful way for alumni to stay in touch with their intellectual roots," said Robert Johnson (S.B. 1963), president of the Alumni Association. "What started as E-mail Forwarding for Life has evolved into a real online worldwide community."
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 28, 2001.