Male engineers showcase talent and beauty in EnPageant
To the unknowing passerby, the rowdy scene in McMillan Café on Wednesday evening might have resembled an unrehearsed, B-rated drag show.
But the seven young men strutting around in dresses were no drag queens—they were contestants in the Mr. Engineering Pageant (EnPageant).
Hosted by the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) at Washington University, the “beauty” pageant is part of Engineering Week (EnWeek) and the larger efforts of engineering student groups to promote their field and show the entire student body that engineers really do know how to have a good time.
EnCouncil, the student governing body of the engineering school, coordinates EnWeek.
“I think [EnPageant] represents the spirit of engineering and that our students will get out there and have fun,” said Melanie Osborn, assistant dean in the engineering school and one of the pageant’s five judges.
And there was plenty of fun to go around Wednesday night as the seven male students—each representing a different department in the engineering school—danced to pop songs, paraded in the pageant’s “evening gown” portion and wooed the crowd with their eclectic collection of talents.
Fifth-year senior Sam Wight, or “Mr. Mechanical Engineering,” showed off his aptitude as an impromptu haiku writer.
The subject of his haikus? Mechanical engineering courses yelled out from the audience.
Mr. Chemical Engineering, junior TJ Pepping, used principles of gas expansion to fit an egg through the narrow opening of a bottle. Meanwhile, junior CJ Carey—Mr. Computer Science—counted to 31 in binary with one hand.
Prior to the talents portion of the evening, the contestants performed a semi-coordinated dance routine to the Spice Girls hit “Spice Up Your Life.”
“I noticed during the dance, Jeremy, that you weren’t wearing any underwear,” Associate Dean Chris Kroeger, another one of the five judges, said to Mr. Electrical Engineering amid laughter from the audience.
The pageant also included an interview portion, in which the contestants answered different questions from the judges.
In the end, Carey, or Mr. Computer Science, clinched the pageant’s grand title.
Could there have been bias, especially since Bill Smart, associate professor of computer science and engineering, was on the panel of judges?
“Absolutely! Total bias,” Kroeger said.
Smart agreed. The self-proclaimed “Simon Cowell” of the judging panel joked before the pageant, “I can tell you right now—CJ is going to do very well.”
Emceed by engineering school seniors Dan Brewster and Sydnie Lieb and sophomore Katie Disterhoft, the pageant had a great turnout.
“We had more people than we initially anticipated,” said Lieb, SWE president. Everything went really well. The contestants, audience and judges all had a really good time, and that was our main goal.”
Brewster, president of EnCouncil, said that he predicted that EnPageant would be one of the more popular events this year, and that the good turnout fits well into the purpose of EnWeek.
“We’re increasing our visibility to other students,” Brewster said. “Our audience is not just engineers but students across the entire school. It’s a good opportunity, and we want people to come out.
According to Lieb, the male beauty pageant had been an event in previous EnWeeks, though not since the 1990s. This year, SWE decided to bring it back—but with its own spin.
“When they were doing it, they had boxer-shorts and tights. We thought it would be more fun to do drag,” she said.
For Lieb, EnPageant was a perfect event for showcasing the excitement of engineering during EnWeek.
“EnWeek is about being really exciting to be in engineering, being really spirited,” she said. “The idea [of EnPageant] was to do an event with all the different schools within engineering together and have a great time.”
Aside from the pageant, EnWeek featured events such as a Nerf gun capture the flag competition in Lopata Hall, a paper plane competition, a “Super Smash Bros.” tournament, EnWeek student breakfast, and various panels focusing on research and career opportunities for engineering students.
EnWeek, which began on Sunday, will continue through Saturday.
Friday, students can enjoy a field trip to Monsanto Co. EnWeek will end on Saturday with Women in Engineering Day, which is also put on by SWE, Engineering Without Borders Community Service Day and a catapult competition.
Mr. Computer Science was crowned with a tiara lined with pink fuzz, and handed a bouquet of plastic flowers. The runner-up was Wright, Mr. Mechanical Engineering.