UC Berkeley College of Engineering celebrates accomplishments

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This week, the UC Berkeley College of Engineering community is coming together to commemorate its many accomplishments with Berkeley Engineers Week — a tradition spanning several decades at UC Berkeley.

Gathering engineering undergraduates from all nine majors within the college, the event grants opportunities for networking among both industry professionals and undergraduates from different fields who may otherwise never interact. The weeklong event, which started Monday and continues until Saturday, features guest speakers and various student groups’ projects to honor the field.

Organized by the Engineering Student Council, Berkeley Engineers Week comes just weeks after National Engineers Week, an annual nationwide event that spotlights more than 100 professional engineering organizations. But UC Berkeley’s week takes a slightly different approach, instead putting the future generation of engineering in the spotlight.

“It is a celebration of Berkeley engineers’ (accomplishments and) their playfulness,” said Karen Rhodes, executive director of marketing and communications for the College of Engineering. “(This week) is in keeping with a nationwide celebration of engineering education.”

One of the main events was a presentation from keynote speaker Dean Drako, an entrepreneur who has founded six technology startup companies. Undergraduates were also advised by Berkeley BioLabs founders Ryan Bethencourt and Ron Shigeta on biotechnology, entrepreneurship and startup development.

Some of the most anticipated attractions include a showcase of different student groups’ recent ventures — such as a solar car and a homemade 3-D printer — and some friendly competition between the departments, from nuclear to chemical engineering.

“People really (get) into it and (have) a lot of fun,” said Brad Windsor, internal vice president of the Engineering Student Council. “(But) at the same time, people are very competitive and want to show off their majors.”
Students have three different opportunities to garner points: a puzzle hunt around campus, a “duct-taping” competition that involves answering trivia questions to gather enough duct tape to stick teammates to a wall and a “design-and-build” egg-drop contest.

Although small prizes are given throughout week — such as gift cards to CREAM — the students are focused on winning the ultimate award: the Engineers Week trophy, passed down to winning teams throughout the years.

Currently leading the pack is electrical engineering and computer sciences, followed closely by industrial engineering and operations research.

Despite the intense rivalries among engineering students, the week will be able to culminate on a high note with a carnival on Pi Day and an entire Saturday dedicated to engineering activities with elementary school children through UC Berkeley Engineering for Kids.

“(This is) a chance for us to give back to the community, said UC Berkeley senior Rachel Wu, head coordinator of Engineering for Kids. “I think our greatest contribution is introducing something to kids who would not have had access to it.”

Contact Becca Benham at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @beccabenhamdc.