The inspiring story of Ahaan Rungta

Photo of young man working at a table in MIT dining area with his laptop, writing in a notebook.

Ahaan Rungta, MIT Class of 2019 (Photo by M. Scott Brauer)

“Some people think I’m gifted, but I don’t think so. OCW was a gift to me. I was lucky to be born at the time MIT was opening up education to the world and extra lucky that OCW brought MIT and me together.”

By Laurie Everett | MIT OpenCourseWare

Ahaan Rungta and his family moved from Calcutta, India, to Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 2001, the same year MIT announced OpenCourseWare (OCW), a bold plan to publish all of MIT’s course materials online and to share them with the world for free. Little did his parents realize at the time that their two-year-old son—already an avid reader—would eventually acquire his entire elementary and secondary education from OpenCourseWare and MITx, and would be admitted to the MIT class of 2019 at the age of 15.

“When I was five years old my mom told me ‘there’s this thing called OCW,’” says Ahaan, who was homeschooled. “I just couldn’t believe how much material was available. From that moment on I spent the next few years taking OCW courses.”

When most kids are entering kindergarten Ahaan was studying physics and chemistry through OpenCourseWare. For Ahaan’s mother, the biggest challenge to homeschooling her son was staying ahead of him, finding courses and materials to feed his insatiable mind.

“My parents always supported me and found the materials I needed to keep learning. My mother was a resource machine. As I got older, I studied math through OCW’s Highlights for High School program, and when I was ready for Linear Algebra, I watched all of Professor Gil Strang’s 18.06 video lectures. From the time I was five I learned exclusively from OCW. And I knew then I wanted to go to MIT.”

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