MIT Students drive across one-fourth of the world for charity

April 01, 2006 (PRLEAP.COM) Business News
This summer, four MIT students are dropping their books and gearing up for epic adventure. Rather than taking researching at MIT or vacationing in the Caribbean, they will spend their summers as students of the world, trekking across a quarter of the earth’s surface, from London to Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia, to raise money for charity.

The two MIT cars will be joining over eighty vehicles from around the world for the annual Mongol Rally ( in mid-July. The rally supports several charities including Mercy Corps (, who strive to alleviate poverty through sustainable means and Send a Cow (, which provides veterinary services and livestock to poor farmers in Africa and Asia. All of the Mongol Rally charities focus on development that is sustainable—for these organizations charitable donations aren’t just a gift, but a means for the poor to be “agents of their own transformation.”

Nadeem Mazen, a Mechanical Engineering senior, commented, “MIT has taken strides in recent years to expose students to engineering international development through both traditional and non-traditional methods. It’s clear to me that, given the privileges of resources and education, we have to give back to the world and make change. This trip will give us the chance to venture out and see a broad cross-section of the world’s peoples and to assess possible applications of low-cost technologies. Meanwhile, we’ll also be raising funds for the organizations that are already knee-deep in development work and need our support.”

As if 8,000 miles over Europe and Asia wasn’t enough, the Mongol Rally rules require cars to have 1.0 liter engines or weaker. Why? Contest organizers are adamant that the task be difficult, require true adventure, necessitate interactions with local communities, and perhaps even involve horseback riding when all else fails and the end is in sight. Basier Aziz, an Electrical Engineering senior said, “It’s a true challenge. A well-rounded challenge. The rally is going to require planning, teamwork, and flexibility—and the thing is set up so that we’re going to face some hurdles. I think we’ve all been hungering for a project like this one. The whole thing is just a huge question mark.”

The team has already accumulated some filming experience during student projects and international travel and the group plans to post photo and video reviews of their trek as regularly during the journey as they can find internet access. “I think you have to see Nadeem’s video camera to realize what kind of footage we’re expecting to take. The National Geographic people are quaking in their boots,” boasted Javad Golji, senior in Brain and Cognitive Sciences. Fareed Ahmed, sophomore in Aeronautics and Astronautics and the group’s business manager adds, “And we can’t forget that this is for charity. We’re always looking for sponsors and we want to feature sponsors in our video production—so it’s a really good chance for companies to get behind a beautiful project and get some good press in the process. And individuals should get behind this too—even a couple dollars through Paypal will really make a difference to the charities we’re supporting”

If you’re considering donation or sponsorship, or if you’re just interested in the details of the trek, you can visit or contact the adventurers personally at