E-WEEK: Rutgers celebrates annual National Engineers Week
Students designing canoes out of cardboard need to think about buoyancy, the boat’s structure and the material’s integrity, said Kaustubh Deshpande, a School of Engineering senior and president of the Engineering Governing Council. They should consider how tape can reinforce edges and what sort of stress acts on corners.
The fifth annual Cardboard Canoe Races were just one event during Rutgers’ celebration of National Engineers Week, an annual celebration of engineers and their work around the nation. It usually occurs near George Washington’s birthday, as he is considered the first engineer in America.
Planning for E-Week began last semester, but the actual preparation began at the beginning of the spring semester, said Taylor Au, a School of Engineering junior and chair of the Engineers Week Committee. The committee is made up of about 20 members who met weekly to set up and organize the events.
“It’s a pretty large and wide effort. I really like that because I’ve been able to meet more diverse people in engineering,” Au said.
The week's events would give students a better sense of what engineering is, said Ilene Rosen, associate dean for undergraduate education/student services.
Students were able to celebrate the School of Engineering and take pride in their accomplishments, she said. At the same time, they were able to have fun and break stereotypes people might hold about engineering students.
"Engineers are fun and creative," she said. "Engineering is all around us."
Engineering is an area that interests people of all ages, Au said.
“We want to expose other people to engineering and show people what we’re all about, and share our passion for what we do,” she said. “Engineering is a discipline that spans all years and all ages. It doesn’t matter who you are, we (wanted) people to get excited about E-week from the start.”
Engineers week lets students showcase their abilities, Deshpande said.
Many people have the idea that engineering revolves around science and mathematics, which he said is not necessarily true.
“There’s fun elements to it, and also you see the product of what you’re doing, which is fun,” he said. “(E-Week) is a way to show off, it’s not serious. Ultimately you do have engineering principles (in the activities) but it’s fun.”
Grade-school students came to Young Engineers’ Day to work with Rutgers students on pasta bridges and Arduinos, she said. Attendees learned about basic engineering principles through these activities.
Over the week itself, Au said the Rutgers community had the opportunity to participate in hands-on activities and learn more about the School of Engineering.
“We had engineering organizations do different types of hands on activities so the public could come by. You could be a student, a visitor, a dean or faculty member and you could make ice-cream, more pasta bridges. It was just some activities so that people could celebrate engineering together,” she said. “E-Week is not just for engineers, it’s for everyone.”
The events throughout the week not only boosted the morale of students at the school, but broke down barriers between students and the faculty members, she said. As chair of the committee that planned the events, she was able to meet several accomplished professionals in the field.
“(I was able to meet) strong female engineers, people who are doing unpaid internships but are turning trash into anaerobic terras at terracycle, deans and faculty members who are leaving their desks and building cardboard canoes,” she said. “ It’s fun being able to be creative outside of the classroom.”
Engineering is an important field that will only grow in the coming years, Deshpande said. Students who enter the field for their careers will have an advantage as it continues to grow. Deshpande said being exposed to it outside of normal classroom lessons can demonstrate to non-engineering students how much fun it can be.
“Engineering, while it may seem hard, it’s a really passionate field,” he said. “Everyone who does it, does it because they love it.”
Nikhilesh De is a School of Engineering junior. He is the news editor of The Daily Targum. Follow him on Twitter @nikhileshde for more.
Madhuri Bhupathiraju is a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student majoring in cell biology and neuroscience. She is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum. Follow her onTwitter @madhuri448 for more.
Samantha Casimir is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in biological sciences. She is a staff photographer for The Daily Targum.