Butter battle brings new crowds to annual EnWeek
With only a large tub of butter each and clay tools, nine teams of Washington University students competed in WUChurn’s first butter-sculpting competition on Wednesday as part of Engineers Week (EnWeek).
Creating a variety of figures, such as a penguin, a behatted snowman, a game console controller and a “butter-fly,” the teams competed for the golden cow trophy and title of butter-sculpting champions.
The competitors were judged by Jon Silva, assistant professor of biomedical engineering; Chelsea Greenbaum, junior and Engineering Council (EnCouncil) president; and a panel of WUChurn Executive Board members in the three categories of structural integrity, creativity and level of difficulty.
Chancellor Mark Wrighton stopped by to view the proceedings.
“It causes people to think about how to build new structures, of course, and I think brings people together around a very interesting undertaking,” Wrighton said. “I’ve never heard of anything like this. I wanted to come by and see what’s up.”
“I hope it doesn’t become too warm in here,” Wrighton added in concern over the sculptures’ structural integrity.
Team “Mechanical Molders,” comprised of juniors Tilo Buergel and Jill Sanning, won the competition with their sculpture of gears against the backdrop of the St. Louis Arch.
“I think we’ll come back next year…see if we can stay reigning champs,” Buergel said.
“[We’ll] bring power tools next time,” Sanning added.
EnWeek, the annual exposition and celebration of all disciplines of engineering, began Monday with the weeklong Golden Mouse Hunt competition. The week will close with the main event, a presentation by Tory Belleci and Grant Imahara of MythBusters, this Saturday at 2 p.m. in Graham Chapel.
Ralph Quatrano, dean of the engineering school, described the importance of EnWeek in fostering engineering pride and community.
“EnWeek really is a focus on building a sense of community, a sense of belonging and a sense of pride in engineering, in what we are, our history of what we are and what we’re going to be,” he said.
WUChurn, a student club dedicated to butter churning and promoting organic living, participated in EnWeek for the first time.
“The butter-sculpting competition is something we’ve been trying to do for two years, and EnWeek’s just been really helpful in getting all these things set up. They recruited our judge, they got us the room,” junior Zach Kaufman, co-president of WUChurn, said.
“We’re a smaller club, so they really helped us by making a bigger deal, which was nice,” junior and co-president Jeremy Winer added.
“All of our events at this point, except for one, have been on the [South] 40. They’re targeted at underclassmen, mak[ing] it convenient, so it’s cool to have a spotlight on something we’re proud of,” Kaufman added.
The Dean’s Lecture took place on Tuesday, featuring Edward Jung, the founder of patent company Intellectual Ventures.
“One of the initiatives we have campus-wide is one of entrepreneurs and innovation…The idea is to bring someone here who has a tremendous, exciting background and interest and has been a success at entrepreneurship and innovation. And [Jung] has collaborated with some people here at Washington University,” Quatrano said.
Junior Gage Crawford, programming chair of EnCouncil, said over 50 people have been planning EnWeek since November of last year, which involved coordination with all the engineering student groups, faculty and alumni for the various activities such as Penny Wars, a fundraiser for Relay for Life, and an alumni barbecue taking place on Friday.
“Just about every department main group is probably doing an event this week, and that’s one of our biggest goals for EnWeek…to promote the different departments and what being an engineer is like to the rest of the school,” Crawford said.
He hopes EnWeek will help to integrate the School of Engineering into the larger University community.
“People walk by [Lopata Hall] all the time, and if you’re not in engineering, half the time you don’t even realize that the engineering students are here…I feel that the Engineering School’s a bit left to itself a lot of the time. If we can promote it to the rest of the school, we can become a little more integrated with the rest of the student body…We’re a part of the school like everyone else,” Crawford added.
He also hoped the non-engineering community would benefit from this week’s activities and described his efforts to make EnWeek feel more welcoming and inclusive to them, such as offering first-seat tickets to MythBusters at their events and advertising more outside of the school.
First-year computer science master’s student Aarthi Arunachalam, who also received her undergraduate degree from Washington University, said she thinks EnWeek has become less welcoming to non-engineers than it was years past.
“I’m finding that most of the events take place within the engineering school, I think, except for the main event…so it’s less likely someone would just happen to notice something going on,” she said.