Celebrating 150 years, School of Engineering kicks off Engineers Week

A student builds a robot at the Tufts Robotics table at the kickoff event of Engineering Week. Sofie Hecht / The Tufts Dail

Tufts Engineers Week began Sunday night in a kick-off event that featured group challenges, free refreshments and a speech from Assistant Professor of Computer Science Ben Hescott. The weeklong series of events at Tufts mirrors the National Engineers Week initiated by the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE).

This year’s Engineers Week spans from Feb. 22 to Feb. 28 and serves to bring the various engineering departments on campus together, according to Co-founder and President of Tufts Engineering Mentors John Kenny. Kenny, a junior, said that the Engineers Week aims to connect the scattered major departments within the School of Engineering.

“We really want to bring together all the different majors because a lot of them have never interacted with each other,” he said, explaining that computer science, electrical engineering and computer engineering are all located in Halligan Hall, while mechanical engineering, human factors, civil and environmental engineering are all located in Anderson Hall.

“We don’t really interact with each other as much as we would like. So the idea of the competition throughout the week is to engage all these students to play with and against each other,” Kenny said.

Almost all of Tufts’ pre-professional engineering organizations will host events and challenges in which Tufts students, both engineers and non-engineers, can participate, Kenny explained. He hopes that many of the challenges will foster teamwork and chemistry among engineers of different majors, bringing them closer.

According to Kenny, notable events include Tuesday’s Trivia Night and Thursday’s Date an Engineer, in which one female contestant “chooses among four male engineers based on the boys’ wittiness,” Kenny said.

Throughout the week, students earn points for participating in or winning events and can then log their earned points to their respective major departments, Kenny explained. A points master will maintain a live feed scoreboard, and the winning department will take home the Anderson Brick trophy.

In addition to earning points at events, students can also partake in a photos challenge in which they upload requested photos from the challenge list onto Instagram, Kenny explained. Students can tag their specific challenge and their respective majors on the photos to accrue points.

Kenny acknowledged that the competition for the Anderson Brick is only for engineers. Students in the School of Arts and Sciences as well as engineers can still participate by earning raffle tickets that are exchangeable with points, Kenny said. The raffle will be drawn on Friday and includes various prizes, including ski resort lift tickets and breakfast with University President Anthony Monaco.

This year’s Engineers Week also marks the 150th anniversary of the founding of the School of Engineering. According to Associate Dean for Recruitment, Retention and Community Engagement Darryl Williams, Engineers Week falls at a perfect time to highlight all that is engineering at Tufts.

“It’s an opportunity for the school [of] engineering to highlight all the great things we are doing, the research that’s happening here and the types of projects that students are involved in,” he said. “It’s to draw attention to the work we have done in the last 150 years. And since it’s national Engineers Week, and universities around the country will be participating, we have a chance to demonstrate to other schools how good our engineering school really is.”

Williams, the point person from the administration directly involved with Engineers Week, also emphasized the importance of bridging the gap between liberal arts students and engineers on campus.

“This is about highlighting the achievements of the School of Engineering, but also recognizing that we are part of a larger [Arts, Sciences and Engineering] campus,” Williams said. “So we really want this to serve as an opportunity to highlight what we are doing as a school of engineers and create that bridge between [engineering and] arts and sciences.”

Though this year’s Engineers Week is garnering a lot of attention, previous incarnations of Engineers Week proved unsuccessful and small, according to Yuki Ito, co-president of Tufts’ chapter of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES).

Ito, a junior, said he believes that this year is different due to the active involvement of student leaders such as Kenny and heads of each pre-professional engineering organizations, who reached out to numerous students for help and participation.

Echoing Williams‘ desire to bridge the gap between engineers and non-engineers, Ito said he hopes that the week is successful in attracting student participation from both schools.

“I really hope that enough engineers participate in the events so that the competition is actually a competition among engineering majors,” Ito said. “I really am trying to get people excited about engineering, even … the people who are in engineer school. There’s a real disconnect between liberal arts and engineering, so hopefully these events can get everyone excited about the great projects here at Tufts.”