Weathering the storm: Sights and sounds from the Engineering Master’s Talent Show

Engineering Family Weekend Duke Engineering Duke University BBQ
Engineering Family Weekend Duke Engineering Duke University BBQ

Duke’s Engineering Master’s Programs' Dance Club and Music Club hosted a talent show in Gross Hall Sept. 22. The event was open to all graduate engineering students, giving participants an opportunity to share their unique skills with the greater engineering community.

Despite inclement weather conditions from Tropical Storm Ophelia impacting attendance, the room was audibly abuzz in the lead-up to the event. Eventually, the crowd was called into Gross 107, an auditorium-style classroom designed for larger lectures.

Audiences were greeted with an intricate chalk drawing: the words “Pratt Talent Show” surrounded by yellow floral patterns. As groups of engineers found their seats, the organizers of the event engaged in casual conversation with participants, signaling the laid-back, come-as-you-are ambience that the club leaders were attempting to cultivate.

Another goal of these chats was to find last-minute volunteers; the threat of an incoming storm meant that only three of the planned 15 performers were in attendance. Forging ahead regardless, club leaders energized the crowd with a call and response of “Hip hip!” “Hooray!”.

After a bit of fiddling with the sound system, the show kicked off with a heartfelt performance of Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb.” Then, a student sang snippets of three songs, including a rendition of Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s “Shallow” that wielded surprising emotional depth.

Students continued to trickle in, visibly soaked by the increasingly intense rainstorm. Sneaking into empty seats near the back, they settled for the next few performances.

The last scheduled performance was an astoundingly great display of beatboxing by a second-year Ph.D. student. He performed a four-song set, closing by showcasing his ability to make bizarrely convincing trumpet sounds.

Despite a strong showing from those participants who were able to make it, the talent show ran out of scheduled talent a mere 15 minutes into its runtime. Luckily, a few brave students rose to the occasion by volunteering a showcase of their skills.

These included impromptu performances from event organizers in both the Music and the Dance Club; a few members of the general audience also chose to join in. Standout among these was a performance of Frank Sinatra’s “The Way You Look Tonight” that demonstrated patent experience with working a crowd.

Once the show had been exhausted of willing volunteers, the event transitioned to a few minutes of group karaoke.  Being in a room full of graduate students belting out Justin Bieber’s “Baby” was quite an unforgettable experience. 

As the event drew to a close, participants were each awarded a Duke mug for their efforts before the crowd funneled into the lobby. With the rainstorm going strong, most chose to stick around for a while and enjoy the provided refreshments. 

Students discussed the performances over pizza and soda provided by the Music and Dance Clubs. Despite the unfortunate weather surrounding the talent show, it was a clear success.

The Chronicle was able to speak with Manish Saunshi, the President of Pratt’s Music Club, during the post-show reception. He emphasized that this was only the first of many planned events for the semester.

“We do have a plan in our roadmap throughout the semester,” Saunshi said, “so we have two or three more events [coming] from the Music Club.”

The Engineering Master’s Talent Show was a sterling display of the many talents Pratt students have honed outside the classroom. Moreover, both the showrunners and participants exhibited admirable flexibility and resilience in the face of a tropical storm.

More information about upcoming graduate student events can be found on the Pratt graduate student event schedule.

Bennett Gillespie profile
Bennett Gillespie

Bennett Gillespie is a Trinity first-year and a staff reporter for the news department. 


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