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Engineering Week at UConn marked with contests, debate
(February 21, 1997)

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 a typical scenario that UConn engineering students encountered during the Impromptu Design Contest, held Wednesday night as part of National Engineers Week 1997 at the University.

The contest is one of five events the University's engineering departments planned for UConn's initial participation in National Engineers Week. A banquet was held Tuesday night at Husky Blues. On Wednesday night was the "Great Raft Debate" in the Student Union Ballroom. The premise of the debate concerned 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 debated the topic "If they were all on a raft, which one department would have to jump off in order for them not to sink," said Eric Soulsby, associate dean of engineering.

Four engineering students also visited Juliet Long Middle School in Ledyard Wednesday as representatives of 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), will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday in the Latin American Cultural Center.

The National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) founded National Engineers Week in 1951 to promote public understanding and appreciation of engineering. The week-long activities occur every year around George Washington's birthday because he is considered the nation's first engineer. It also is scheduled during Black History Month because African-Americans have engineered such inventions as the four-way traffic signal, the bottle cap, refrigerator, pencil sharpener and thousands of other ideas.


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