The College of Engineering and Carnegie Mellon Traditions
We work hard, and we play hard. Our students are constantly challenged not only to excel in class, but to participate the things that make the College of Engineering unique. Read more below about the college and Carnegie Mellon traditions that offer great opportunities for fun and learning outside the classroom.
The First-Year Major Blast
Engineering students officially declare their engineering majors late in their second semester, allowing them time to explore all the engineering disciplines before making a decision. But once the decision is made, it's time to celebrate at the First-Year Major Blast. It is the final celebration, bringing the entire first-year class together for one last time before they head off in different departments to pursue their majors. The event is planned by the students who choose the location and activities. Past Blasts have been held on the Pittsburgh Gateway Clipper Riverboat for a night of sailing, sightseeing, and dancing, as well as in the Carnegie Science Center, packed with classmate challenges, laser and OmniMax shows, and private access to all four floors of interactive exhibits. The First-Year Major Blast is always a night to remember.
Imagine a long, streamlined capsule on wheels, large enough to encase one (very) small college student. These high-tech racers, known as "buggies" compete in the annual Buggy Sweepstakes, where racers can reach speeds of up to 35 miles per hour. Buggies are engineered, built, driven, and pushed by students who sacrifice their sleep for early morning buggy rolls almost every weekend in preparation for race day. There are many organizations involved that compete to take the title of fastest buggy team, but, regardless of the outcome, buggy is about more than just winning. The motivation for the hours of planning, training, and cheering can be found in the time spent with old and new friends.
Every spring the Morewood Gardens parking lot is blocked off so that lumber and supplies can be moved onto what will soon be the Carnival Midway. In less than a week, those piles of wood and buckets of paint are transformed into three-dimensional funhouses, or "booths." Student organizations build booths of all shapes and sizes to entertain carnival-goers and to compete for first place. The booths always reflect an overall theme, such as "Another Place and Time," "Larger than Life," and "To Be a Kid Again." Alumni, current students, and community members can all be kids again as they play games, ride rides, and explore the booths. Spring Carnival is fleeting; however, and the booths are torn down even quicker than they were put up with the pieces stowed away in anticipation of next year's fun.
Meeting of the Minds
Meeting of the Minds is a spectacular celebration of undergraduate student research, featuring amazing projects from all across the university. The annual event is sponsored by Carnegie Mellon's Undergraduate Research Office, which for 16 years has supported undergraduates to engage in the type of research that is often the sole domain at of faculty and graduate students at other colleges. Examples of student projects include a model for predicting the condition of bridges, based on an inventory of Pennsylvania bridges; a low-cost victim-detection module for use on urban search-and-rescue robots; models of an anatomically correct robotic hand; and a system for producing high-quality mine maps.
The Fence is the unofficial campus billboard. Any student or group can paint the Fence, but there are strict rules: The Fence must be painted between midnight and sunrise, in its entirety, using only paintbrushes. If you don’t want your message painted over, the Fence must be guarded around the clock. Groups of students often camp out overnight and enjoy a cookout on the Cut during the day so their messages can be seen by all. The original wooden fence was in the Guinness Book of World Records as the “most painted object in the world.” In 1993, it collapsed under its own weight and was replaced with the concrete fence standing today. It’s estimated that there are four inches of paint on the new Fence already!
Schenley Park is situated in the heart of Oakland and borders Carnegie Mellon University. Students can walk to the park with little effort from any part of campus. Schenley Park has something for everyone including the Schenley Park Golf Course, an 18-hole disc golf course (also called frisbee golf), tennis courts, running track and soccer field, a public swimming pool, and an ice skating rink. There are extensive trails that can accommodate a pleasant stroll or a rigorous workout. Other park hot spots include the Neill Log House that is furnished with artifacts to keep with a settler's rugged life theme and Flagstaff Hill where visitors can listen to a concert, watch a movie, study, or sunbathe.
College of Engineering Fast Facts:
Andrew Carnegie didn't want libraries to be named after him; instead at the entrance he wanted the words "Let there be light" inscribed at the entrance of the library.
Churee, Charaw, Haw! Ha! Ha! Moom-a-rang, Bang-a-tang! Sis Boom! Bah! Eat-em up! Beat em' up! Chase em' up a tree! Nineteen Eleven of Car-neg-ie! This is the cheer that the night students of Carnegie Tech created to serenade the day students.
In 1908 the Carnegie Tech graduating class had 58 students, and twenty years later that number increased to 382. Today the College of Engineering has an enrollment of 3,076 (1,647 undergraduates and 1,429 graduate students).
When campus designer Henry Hornbostel created Tech's first campus plan, he connected all of his buildings with underground tunnels, about eight feet tall by six feet wide, that could carry lines for steam, hot water, electricity and telephones. The tunnels are still used today for mainly the same purpose. The steam tunnels contain pipes for steam and chilled water that heat and cool university buildings.
The first bagpiper appeared at Commencement in 1948 due to a student request and has become a university ritual. Today, Carnegie Mellon is the only university offering a degree in bagpipe music.
The Carnegie Mellon's Kiltie Band, which dresses in full Scottish regalia, performs during every home football game. Their first appearance was November 25, 1922, the birthday of Andrew Carnegie.
Carnegie Mellon's popularity spills over to the silver and small screens. The university has been endorsed by characters on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "The West Wing," spoofed by "The Muppets" (Dr. Bunsen Honeydew went to Carnegie Melonhead University), and scenes from movies like "Wonder Boys," "Flashdance," and "Smart People" were filmed on campus.
In the 1940s, the silicone rubber in Silly Putty was discovered by a Dow Corning employee working on a research fellowship at Mellon Institute. Earl Warrick was working with silicone compounds and came up with the strange, pliable material that stretches, bounces, and absorbs printed impressions.
Carnegie Mellon worked with IBM in the 1980s to develop Andrew—a pioneering computer network that links the entire campus through thousands of personal computers and work stations. In 2000, Carnegie Mellon continued its technical tradition with a campus-wide wireless network.
During World War I, 16 temporary buildings were built on the then Carnegie Institute of Technology campus to serve as barracks, training facilities and mess halls for soldiers in training for technical, engineering and mechanical war work. By 1918, 8,000 soldiers and sailors were living on campus.
- Learn more about the history of the College of Engineering with our interactive timeline.