MIT Wrestler Earns Rhodes Scholarship

November 28, 2017 | MIT press release

Matthew Chun, from Arlington, Virginia, is an MIT senior majoring in mechanical engineering with a minor in management science. As a Rhodes Scholar, Chun seeks to further his knowledge of policy and law, with the goal of advising organizations that bring life-improving technologies to countries around the world. At Oxford, he will pursue a second BA in jurisprudence before returning to the U.S. to enroll in law school with a focus on intellectual property.

As a freshman, Chun joined Professor Hugh Herr’s Biomechatronics Laboratory, where he helped design an exoskeleton adaptor. His experience there inspired him to co-found Need-a-Knee, LLC, a student-led company that has developed a low-cost transfemoral rotator for above-knee amputees. Chun and his team have field-tested the device in India and partnered with international and domestic humanitarian organizations.

Besides winning multiple awards for this technology, including the 2017 MIT IDEAS Global Challenge, Chun has secured over $50,000 in funding to develop prototypes and begin manufacturing. He currently serves as the chief executive officer and head of business development for the company.

Chun was an “innovator-in-training” at Tikkun Olam Makers in Israel, where he managed multiple projects to build open-source assistive technologies for people with disabilities, and led a project to design an affordable prosthetic dog paw. Chun has also sought opportunities to gain experience in the business aspects of technology; he has interned with companies in venture capital, investment banking, and patent law. He has conducted independent research on the legal challenges faced by new technologies with John Akula, a senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Chun has just learned that he's one of just 32 Americans to have been selected as a Rhodes Scholar, receiving what is considered to be the most elite award and scholarship in the world for international study.

Rhodes Scholars receive a fully-funded opportunity to study at the University of Oxford in England for at least two years. Each scholarship -- which includes a stipend for living expenses -- is valued at $68,000 per year.

"Rhodes Scholars are selected based on criteria established by the will of 19th century businessman Cecil Rhodes: outstanding scholarly achievements, character, commitment to others and to the common good, and potential for leadership in their chosen career field," according to a statement from the NCAA.

Matt is a two-time NCWA Academic All-American, a three-time NCWA National Qualifier and currently serves as team captain. He is also the co-editor-in-chief of Et Spiritus, MIT’s student-run journal of Christian thought, has held executive roles with the national engineering honor society Tau Beta Pi, and was selected as a member of an MIT delegation to Congress to advocate for federal science policy.