Column: Engineers unite!

Look at you, sitting there in your English class, smug and self-assured, change-the-world-with-my-words-and-letters, Trinity College self. Take your I'm-cooler-than-you-because-you're-in-Pratt attitude back to whence it came, 'cause I really don't care how many papers you have, or how many seminars you've taken.

I'm tired of all of you Trinity College students sniffing your noses at the Pratt School of Engineering. The entire "You're an engineer? I'm sorry" bit has grown old. We don't need your pity. Save it for the computer science majors.

Historically speaking, engineers have always suffered at the hands of the supposedly more well-rounded students here at Duke. Confined to the farthest corners of Science Drive, we have toiled in relative silence, bearing the brunt of your snide comments and cute little jokes. But enough is enough.

If I had a dollar for every spiteful, back-handed comment I hear about engineers, I'd have enough money to eat at the Washington Duke Inn for breakfast, lunch and dinner. (Along the same lines, if I had a penny for every cliche used in this article, I'd have enough money to buy the Washington Duke Inn.)

Just because you read Shakespeare and discuss politics doesn't make you any more worthy or valuable than us. Sure, your two-papers-a-semester classes leave you with lots of extracurricular time, but I hardly think sitting on your couch, guzzling warm beer while watching the game makes you any more exciting than us.

To tell the truth, engineering courses are not even as bad as engineers make them out to be. The majority of engineers don't spend every waking hour doing problem sets and analyzing circuits; in all honesty, most of the time we're only doing what every other student, in every other college, in every other area of study is doingY'�wasting our time and looking for diversions from our work. The insane, workaholic image is basically all an illusion to keep the numbers of engineers at Duke low. We're like the Marines: We only want the few, the proud, the brave.

Because truly, engineers are--by the nature of their craft--not just your every day Joe Schmoe. It takes more than a TI-89 and a big backpack to be an engineer. It takes a certain kind of mettle to survive the prerequisite course load, not to mention those vending machine sandwiches sold in the basement of Teer. Simply speaking, engineering is not for the weak-kneed.

The image of the dull, uncreative engineer is a gaffe as well. You Trinity students think you're the only ones who have mastered the creative art of bull sh---ing. Please. Engineers have evolved the entire innovative practice to a whole new dimension. You use your thesaurus, throw in a few transition phrases, repeat your thesis a couple of times and write two conclusions. Try doing all that with numbers and esoteric formulas, and only then will you begin to see what I am talking about.

So where exactly do these less-than-flattering images come from? Okay, so most engineers have at one point or another filled the stereotypical engineer's bill: spending the night at Teer, sitting in front of a computer, staring at numbers and working with LaTeX. But it seems to me, the true root of the problem here doesn't concern us engineers at all. In fact, it basically all boils down to the intense jealousy smoldering in all Trinity students.

Yes, you heard me right. You're jealous of us. You know you wish you had E-kegs every Friday. You know you wish you had cool t-shirts that say "I Hate Duke Physics." Your ears burn with envy when you hear about the free engineering barbecues and the free weekly bagel breakfasts. And don't even get me started about Curriculum 2000.

But really now, must we prolong this silly rivalry we have going on? All we're looking for is a little understanding and love. Is that really so hard to do?

You see, I dream of the day where students from the esteemed colleges of Trinity and Pratt stand together, side by side, united and harmonious. Let us realize we're not all that different. Engineers sit in lectures for 50 minutes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, just like Trinity students do. We read The Chronicle and do the crossword puzzles in class. We ride the same buses, walk the same pathways. We share the same worries, the same aspirations. We all dream of a better and brighter future.

So please students of Trinity College, I'm asking you: show us some love and understanding. And who knows, we might even invite you to the next barbecue.

Jasen Liu is a Pratt junior. His column appears every third Wednesday.


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