UT Students Celebrate National Engineers Week with Free and Quirky Competitions

Engineers may be known for excelling in math and science, but students at the Cockrell School of Engineering are proving they also have singing and dancing skills, among other things, that could impress even "American Idol" judges.

Starting tomorrow, student engineering organizations at The University of Texas at Austin will compete in a weeklong friendly competition, known as E-Week, that's meant to demonstrate the vital role of engineers in society. The event, which runs Feb. 18-25, is free, open to the public and uses humor, colorful visuals and -- at times -- amazingly creative and complex competitions to celebrate National Engineers Week, a nationwide event that runs concurrently.

The national event was started in 1951 by the National Society of Professional Engineers to increase public awareness and appreciation of the engineering profession and its contributions to society. This year marks the event's 6oth anniversary.

"The goal of E-Week is to celebrate our profession, but the scope of most of the events we do on campus revolves around getting engineers to mingle with other engineers from different majors and organizations, so that we can enhance the overall community feeling at the Cockrell School," said Ed Panuska, a civil engineering senior and member-at-large of the Cockrell School's Student Engineering Council, which organizes E-Week.

Fifteen student engineering organizations are scheduled to participate in E-Week through a range of competitions that run daily. Following E-Week, student organizations with the most points will be awarded prize money.

Among the week's highlights are:

Engineer's Got Talent -- In an event similar to "American Idol" or "America's Got Talent," student engineers display their talents in front of a panel of judges and audience. Each participant must compete in two performances. Presented by Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers at RLM 4.102. Feb. 18, 6-8 p.m.

Rube Goldberg Contest -- Screwing in a light bulb and making a cup of coffee have never been so complicated. The Theta Tau professional engineering fraternity will host the Rube Goldberg Machine Contest in honor of the late American cartoonist Rube Goldberg, whose drawings depicted highly complex devices performing simple tasks. The competition is open to high school and college students. Feb. 23, 6-7 p.m., ETC T-Room

Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day First through eighth grade students from across the state explore the excitement of engineering and the contributions engineers make to our daily lives during this exciting annual event. Visiting girls will design electrical circuit light boxes, create their own bubble wand, watch a ping pong ball nuclear chain reaction, or participate in more than 30 age-appropriate activities. The event concludes with a special "Science in the Movies" show. More than 1,600 girls are expected to attend the event hosted by the Cockrell School's Women in Engineering Program. Feb. 26, 2-5 p.m. For event information visit the Women in Engineering Program Web site and for media requests contact Tricia Berry at tsberry@mail.utexas.edu or 512-963-3366.

A schedule of events is available at the E-Week Web site.