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National Engineers Week 1997 celebrated at UConn (Released: 2/13/97)

by Bonnie Graber, student writer, Office of University Communications.

STORRS, Conn. -- University of Connecticut engineering student Scott Harrison and his teammates are presented with Lego building blocks. They have just a half hour to create a bridge that will hold their textbooks.

This assignment was given just one minute prior, so there's no chance for them to prepare. They are armed with only their engineering skills.

This is the typical scenario that UConn engineering students will encounter while participating in the Impromptu Design Contest, starting at 7 p.m. Feb. 19 in the Student Union Ballroom. The games are a part of National Engineers Week 1997 at the University.

Although anyone can enter the contest, undergraduate engineering students are encouraged to participate and others are encouraged to observe and support the teams. No sign- up is necessary. Upon arrival, the students will be divided at random into teams of three or four. At that point, the teams will be given a task and the equipment along with the time limit they have to work with, said Eric Soulsby, associate dean of engineering.

This event is one of five that UConn's engineering department has planned for the University's first-time participation in National Engineers Week. Also planned are:

  • An Engineering Banquet open to the public at 6 p.m. Feb. 18 at Husky Blues for $5 a person;
  • "The Great Raft Debate" at 7 p.m. Feb. 19 in the Student Union Ballroom. The premise of the debate concerns the five engineering departments (electrical, mechanical, computer science, chemical and civil) in a war of words over which department is the most valuable. The department heads and student-selected professors will debate the topic, "If they were all on a raft, which one department would have to jump off in order for them not to sink," Soulsby said;
  • Four engineering students will visit Juliet Long Middle School in LEDYARD Feb. 19 as representatives from the Engineering Diversity Program to demonstrate engineering designs;
  • A motivational lecture, "Human Interfacing," by Tom Cosker, a member of Tau Beta Pi (the engineering national honor society), at 1 p.m. Feb. 22 in the Latin American Cultural Center.

National Engineers Week 1997 event is chaired by Gary Tooker, vice chairman and Chief executive officer of Motorola, and S. Gordon Moore Jr., 1997 national chair of the National Society of Black Engineers.

The National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) founded National Engineers Week in 1951 to promote public understanding and appreciation of engineering. NSPE organizes the event each year.

The week-long activities occur every year around George Washington's birthday because his educational background was in engineering and land surveying, and he is considered the nation's first engineer. It also is scheduled during Black History Month because, throughout history, African-Americans have engineered such inventions as the four-way traffic signal, the bottle cap, refrigerator, pencil sharpener and thousands of other ideas.