Students and St. Patrick celebrate E-Week
The tradition began in 1903 when a student decided St. Patrick was an engineer.
Mar. 12, 2009
If you've been wondering why the kid sitting next to you in class has been carrying around a 10-foot green stick all week, fear not. There's a perfectly logical explanation: St. Patrick was an engineer.
The College of Engineering observed a long standing MU tradition this week, celebrating St. Patrick's Day and the engineering profession with a full week of activities, planned primarily by the Engineers Club and the St. Patrick's Board.
Engineers Week originated in 1903, when an MU student concluded that because St. Patrick engineered the departure of snakes from Ireland he must have been an engineer.
"In 1903, students decided to cut class on St. Patrick's Day," said Michael Bibb, St. Patrick's Board co-president and last year's King of Valor and Wit. "The next year the dean said he would give everyone an F if they cut class on St. Patrick's Day. However, they all cut class and went out and celebrated, and the school now embraces this tradition and uses it to promote engineering."
Although students originally celebrated by merely skipping classes on St. Patrick's Day, the tradition has evolved into an annual week-long celebration the week before the holiday.
"Engineers Week is a great opportunity for engineering students to interact with other engineering disciplines and professors in a relaxed and personal environment," St. Patrick's Board Co-President Matthias Young said. "Engineers work hard all year and E-Week is an opportunity for them to relax and socialize."
Various engineering organizations chose seniors as candidates for King of Valor and Wit and Queen of Love and Beauty. Five pairs of candidates comprised the Engineering Week Court and worked together, competing in events throughout the week.
Engineering students are able to vote through today for which candidate they would like to be seen crowned by St. Patrick at the St. Patrick's Ball Saturday.
King candidates also carried large green sticks with them for the entirety of the week. According to legend, the sticks are to show the candidate's king status and to protect St. Patrick and engineers from their rivals, the School of Law and the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.
"Those 'large sticks' are the MU versions of shillelaghs, which are wooden clubs once used by Irish peasants as weapons," Young said. "They are used to distinguish the king candidates from the rest of the student body."
The week's first event was the Dome Lighting Ceremony, in which Jesse Hall's dome was lit green in honor of St. Patrick last Friday. Chancellor Brady Deaton joined Young and Bibb in throwing the switch to light the dome. The dome-lighting has been a tradition at MU since 1987.
"The lighting of the dome is perhaps the most well recognized stunt of this week we use to celebrate St. Patrick and all engineers," Bibb said. "Not only is it a treasured tradition, but it's a way to utilize electrical engineering skills and remind people that the first electrical engineering school was right here at Mizzou."
The Missouri Engineering Student Council and the St. Patrick's Board also held a canned food drive for the Central Missouri Food Bank during the Dome Lighting Ceremony.
"Besides being a good citizen, the incentives for donating were 10 minutes off your team's Road Rally time and a raffle ticket for a $50 gift certificate off E-Week merchandise," MESC President Kristin Bruffett said.
The Road Relay, a scavenger hunt conducted by vehicle, took place Saturday. In the contest, each clue brought participants to a new location where a different king and queen candidate would be waiting. A concert capped off the Road Relay and prizes were awarded for least mileage driven and fastest time.
One change from previous years' activities was the Celtic Games on Sunday. The games replaced the basketball and volleyball tournaments the engineers held in previous years.
"These Celtic Games are similar to Scottish Highland Games and include such events as the javelin throw, tree toss, tug-of-war and keg toss," Young said.
Another change from previous Engineers Weeks was the participation competition between engineering departments. The department with the best attendance during Engineers Week events will receive a token of honor and valor on behalf of St. Patrick.
Many of Monday's events were rescheduled due to weather and the MESC Pie-In-The-Face Fundraiser was canceled. The Egg Catapult on Francis Quadrangle, sponsored by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, was rescheduled for Thursday, while the Hot Dog Banquet was moved indoors.
The week's next event was the St. Patrick's BBQ at Déjà Vu Comedy Club on Tuesday. The event consisted of the Quiz Bowl Finals, organized by Tau Beta Pi, an engineering honor society, and a number of skits acted out by king and queen candidates for the audience.
The ASME Egg Catapult on Francis Quadrangle took place Thursday. Student teams each launched three eggs from hand-built catapults at a frying pan placed 60 feet from the launch site.
In one of the week's larger-scaled events, the School of Engineering also held an Open House in Lafferre Hall, Engineering Building West and Engineering North Thursday. Hundreds of mid-Missouri elementary and junior high students viewed and experimented with exhibits from various engineering departments. The exhibits were then opened up to the general public at noon Thursday.
"Events such as the lab exhibits can serve to publicize the engineering department and recruit new students," Young said.
Exhibits included robots made of Legos, electrodes hooked up to earthworms to track brain activity and even a wind tunnel.
The College of Engineering also encouraged students of any major to participate in the first campus-wide Engineers Week scavenger hunt Thursday night. Each team consisted of four people and the winners were awarded a $100 gift card for Engineering Week merchandise.
The Knighting Ceremony, an annual Engineers Week tradition, will take place Friday at 5 p.m. at the shamrock by Francis Quadrangle. Engineering seniors can apply to be knighted by St. Patrick himself.
The St. Patrick's Ball and Casino Night will cap off Engineers Week Saturday night at the Hilton Garden Inn, and St. Patrick will return to crown the candidates with the top number of votes the king and queen of Engineers Week during the banquet.
The week gave engineers a chance to take pride in their major and socialize with professionals and fellow students in their field through one of MU's longest standing traditions.
"Engineering week brings to mind all the great Mizzou traditions," Deaton said. "It reminds us of all the great things engineers have contributed to the university and to society."