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16 February 2014

Engineers Week to promote appreciation, involvement

National Engineers Week kicked off Friday with the Fall in Love with Engineering involvement fair for Valentine’s Day, and the events will continue Monday through Sunday to celebrate all that engineering has to offer.

“Every day we’re open to discussing what we do with anyone, but Engineers Week is a time to show that off because a lot of things you have today is because of engineers,” said sophomore Athena Jones, president of the Engineering Advisory Board (EAB).

The EAB committee in charge of E-week, as it’s called for short, hopes to promote engineering to the greater University of Miami community in order to dispel misconceptions.

“There’s what other people think engineers do, and there’s what engineers think that other people think engineers do,” Jones said.

E-week happens every year during the week of Presidents Day because the nation’s first president, George Washington, is considered an engineer for his work as a land surveyor, according to Jones. But some changes are in store for the university’s annual event.

The engineering involvement fair held outside of the McArthur Engineering Building on Friday was made a part of E-week for the first time to help freshman engineering students who are still deciding on organizations in which to get involved. Beyond that, Jones said it’s important to share engineering with a greater audience on campus this year.

“We’re trying to make our events a little more public by making them central events on campus,” she said.

This includes the Innovation Expo on Tuesday, which is taking place in the UC Lower Lounge. General Electric, the U.S. Air Force and engineering graduate students will show off their latest work.

“They’ll get to see some really cool technology,” Jones said. “GE still won’t tell me what they’re bringing. In the past, they brought a liver scanner.”

Even more central to campus, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) are holding concrete canoe races in Lake Osceola.

Senior Zak Seed and a team of ASCE members are still working on a concrete canoe for their upcoming regional conference in March, but three canoes from past competitions will be available for students on Wednesday.

“In the past, it’s been difficult because the SAC has been under construction,” Seed said. “This year, we have a huge opportunity to promote the organization and promote engineering in general, with the ease of access, where students can literally go from the Rat and into the canoe and sail around Lake Osceola.”

Engineers are usually associated with being anti-social and not really engaging with the community, Seed said. But he wants his fellow engineers to get more involved around campus rather than centralized at the McArthur Engineering Building. That’s part of why ASCE has decided to take a different approach to the concrete canoe event this year.

“We thought it would be cool to carry the canoes across campus to the lake so everyone can see us,” Seed said. “They weigh about 120 to 150 pounds.”

Jones is particularly excited for Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day. The Society of Women Engineers will host more than 150 high school girls to open their eyes to the engineering field.

At UM, about 30 percent of students in the College of Engineering are women, which is double the national average. And the push for more female engineers is happening around the country, according to Jones.

“Look at Goldieblox, the engineering toys for girls,” she said. “There’s definitely a big women’s movement going on today in the STEM fields.”

E-Week will conclude with the third annual UHack, a 24-hour hackathon that lasts from Saturday to Sunday. Students from South Florida universities build apps or websites that help make life easier and compete for a grand prize of $1,000.

Senior Marc Messier, president of UM’s Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers chapter, is most looking forward to the number of students attending this year.

“We have over 100 RSVPs for the event, our largest number in all three years that UHack has existed,” he said. “One of the things that’s different about this year is that we have a 3D printer and electronic equipment and hardware available to hackers, which should be awesome.”

In addition to prizes being given out by sponsors, participants also get to partake in an overnight raffle with giveaways including a Kindle, Chromecast and portable Bluetooth speaker systems.

Engineers Week Events

Innovation Expo 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday in UC Lower Lounge

Build It Competition 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday in the SAC Ballrooms

Concrete Canoe Races 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday in front of the Rathskeller

Lego Buildings noon to 3 p.m. Wednesday in UC Breezeway

Happ-E-Hour 5 to 7 p.m. Friday at the Rathskeller

Domino Challenge 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday at the Engineering Breezeway

UHack 11 a.m. Saturday at the UC. To register, visit uhack.us.

For more information about E-week, visit umeweek.com.