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Student news—Mystery pudding and marshmallows bring students together during E-Week


2008 Engineers Week

On the UW-Madison campus, student organizations celebrate Engineers Week by organizing and participating in wacky competitions—events that fuel rivalries but also build a sense of community among participants. At the end of the week, the student organization with the highest point total wins. Members of the Biomedical Engineering Society were the 2008 E-Week champs. (large image)

As passersby watched six groups of engineering students fling eggs over a railing in the Engineering Centers Building, it looked as if midterm season had gotten the best of everyone.

However, the “Egg Drop”—the goal of which was to construct a paper container that would transport an egg safely to the ground—actually was part of the 2008 Engineers Week, a five-day annual competition among University of Wisconsin-Madison engineering student organizations.

The campus E-Week coincided with the 58th National Engineers Week, held Feb. 17 through 23. The National Engineers Week Foundation is composed of 75 professional societies, corporations and government agencies focused on raising awareness of careers in engineering among young students. Held the week of George Washington’s birthday as a tribute to the first president’s contributions to land surveying and military engineering, the national event is one of the country’s oldest professional outreach efforts.

At UW-Madison, E-Week serves as a break from classes and a chance for student groups to draw some attention. Student organizations hosted more than 20 activities, ranging from card games to karaoke and a charity run, throughout the week at different locations on the engineering campus. Each organization was responsible for creating and running at least one event; the organizations receive points based on group participation and performance. At the end of the week, the Biomedical Engineering Society claimed bragging rights to the most points.

One new activity this year was “Chubby Bunny,” a fast-paced event in which participants cram as many marshmallows as they can into their mouths. After each marshmallow, they have to utter a semi-intelligible “chubby bunny.” The winner, a female member of the co-ed professional fraternity Theta Tau, managed to fit in 19 marshmallows.

T.J. Madsen is a member of the engineering student organization council Polygon and acted as the main coordinator of E-Week.

“E-Week is valuable to engineering students because it provides something fun to do on campus,” says Madsen, an electrical engineering and computer sciences student. “I feel that by nature, engineering students are very competitive—we have to be to survive in the field—and competitions like this feed on that competitive spirit.”

For industrial engineering and economics student Josh Thornton, E-Week actually becomes a week about cooperation. “As much as it’s a competition, it really does help organizations actually get along,” he says. “This gets people together, gets people talking.”

Some of the E-Week events benefited charity. A local breakfast diner, Mickie’s Dairy Bar, serves a mix of fried potatoes, eggs, meat, gravy and cheese known as a “scrambler.” For every scrambler E-Week participants ate throughout the week, Mickie’s and the UW-Madison chapter of the American Nuclear Society donated $1.00 each to the American Heart Association. The final total came to 169 scramblers, translating into a $338 donation.

For Thornton, who is current president of Polygon, the messiest event of E-Week was the most memorable. In “Don’t Eat the Worm,” students plunged their faces into pudding to find 10 gummy worms. Thornton found himself in the “mystery round,” which turned out to be a combination of vanilla pudding and sauerkraut.

“It was the worst thing you could probably imagine,” he says with a grin, insisting the event was the best one he attended.

Sandra Knisely