School is in, summer is out and what better
way to ring in the new academic year than with pancakes, hamburgers
and dune-buggies. An impossible combination? Those who helped
out with GEER 101, an initiative to welcome first-year engineering
students to the U of A, would beg to differ.
GEER 101, General Engineering Entrance Requirement, is a week-long
event that takes place during the second week of classes every
fall. Its purpose is to show first-years that there's more
to a degree than a GPA. Originated in the fall of 2001, GEER
101 has seen new activities, new ideas and increased attendance
as its popularity takes root.
One of this year's ideas was to recruit two organizers whose
sole job was to plan and organize GEER 101. Mathieu Johnson
and Louis Bezuidenhout say the spirit of GEER 101 is to show
new students the other credits that are an essential part
of a degree.
"The idea behind GEER 101 is to give the first-year
engineering students the orientation experience that they
would get at other engineering universities," explains
Mr. Bezuidenhout. "Our goal this year was to get them
to know each other outside of class, so that they could meet
people in a different type of setting."
GEER 101 is five days of activities. This year began with
an early morning bang that saw volunteers setting up a pancake
breakfast at 6:30 a.m. Monday. There were people mixing batter
and flipping pancakes for line-ups that were soon to follow.
Batter for about 400 servings (roughly 1,200 pancakes) was
mixed, filling two Rubbermaid roughneck bins. By the time
the breakfast was finished, the batter was completely gone.
Sharks and Dunes
That evening was the night of the pool tournament. Engineering
students, first year and other years alike, were welcome to
come out and show off their skills. This year's tournament
threw a new spin on how the teams were to be chosen. As students
showed up for the tournament, their names were thrown into
Just before the tournament started, two names were selected
at random to determine each tournament team. This helped to
mix up the group and get everyone acquainted. The tournament
featured new T-shirts for the winners as well as a game with
the Engineering Students' Society president.
Tuesday held the most enjoyed event by far: the design competition,
which attracted 36 participants. An engineer is out flying
when his biplane over the dunes of the desert when something
goes wrong, went the scenario. His biplane goes down into
He signals you for help and you now have to come up with a
way to rescue him. You have at your disposal Styrofoam balls,
skewer sticks, a mouse trap, elastic bands, Styrofoam cups,
a Styrofoam plate, a fork, a glue gun, string and some duct
tape. Your objective is to design and build a dune-buggy in
one hour and 15 minutes. You will be marked on the amount
of materials you use and how close your buggy comes to the
target after you release it.
To simulate dunes, sand was poured and mounded in a mini-pool.
Students had to build a buggy that was self propelled and
would come as close as it could to the target. It turned out
that every team built something that worked, though some were
finished earlier than others.
Organizer Mathieu Johnson laughs as he explains that there
were some teams done half an hour early while other teams
scrambled to finish on time. "With 10 minutes to go,
you ask them, 'What's your design going to do?' and they say,
'I don't know, we'll find that out in the next five minutes.'
Though the students relied heavily on ingenuity because of
limited experience, they received a taste of an environment
where communication and deadlines are key.
Mr. Johnson explained that this type of event "hones
your skills of design, ingenuity and resourcefulness."
Movies and More
Wednesday was the movie night where students could come to
the university, kick back and enjoy a flick with their engineering
Ultimate Frisbee and shangria were both held on Thursday
afternoon. Though the weather was not fully cooperative, the
turnout for these events was considerable. Shangria is a traditional
event of Engineering Week, held every January. Teams of eight
line up, one person behind the other. The person at the back
of the line must chug a refreshment of some sort, crawl through
the legs of those in front, and run about 50 metres to a circle
with a baseball bat in its centre.
The person then picks up the bat, places it against the ground
and his or her head. The competitor then spins around the
bat 10 times, puts the bat down and then tries to run in a
straight line back to the next teammate in line.
To end off GEER 101, a barbecue saw more than 300 people
show up. With only 450 hamburgers and a free burger to every
first-year there, the barbecue was over within three and a
This year's GEER 101 tried to cater to every different student
type, whether outgoing or shy, sports oriented or academics
oriented. It also provided an environment where students could
meet other engineering students and have some fun in the process.
The organizers wish to send out a huge thank-you to all the
volunteers who put in countless hours to help GEER 101 be
a success. It would not have happened without you.