MIT grad fell to his death trying to pull a prank

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He was by all accounts brilliant — and then last week, a daring stunt ended his life.

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate died Wednesday when he fell to his death on campus, as he tried to climb the Great Dome — a time-honored tradition of one-upsmanship at the prestigious Cambridge university, authorities said.

Computer programmer Nicholas Paggi — a 2015 MIT grad and a Bayville, New Jersey native — was with roommates who are MIT graduate students when he fell.

“He came down the side of one of the roofs, came across the front and slipped going back up the other side,” his mother, Helga Paggi, told CBS in Boston from her home in Toms River, New Jersey.

His death is being considered an accident, said spokespeople for the campus and the local district attorney.

The great dome over MIT’s Barker Engineering Library in Building 10 — jokingly referred to by students as “The Center of the Universe,” is the frequent target of pranksters intent on “hacking the dome.”

The Great Dome at MIT has been the target of numerous pranks, like this one in 1999.Getty Images

Over the years, students have vied to top each other by festooning the top of the building with banners, large objects, light displays and sometimes elaborately-engineered sculptures.

Paggi graduated with degrees in computer science and physics, according to, the student newspaper.

He was a software engineer at Ab Initio Software in Lexington, Mass., the paper said.

“Nick was well-read, had a great sense of humor, and I always enjoyed having conversations with him discussing the future of technology and artificial intelligence,” MIT research scientist Rich Fletcher told the paper.

Fletcher continued to consult with Paggi after his graduation and called him a “brilliant programmer.”

“The world has lost a kind soul and great thinker,” he said.