Student Engineering Council

Photo Credit: Ashley Ephraim | Daily Texan Staff

The annual Halloween canned food drive benefiting the Central Texas Food Bank is working overtime this year due to Hurricane Harvey’s impact.

The Student Engineering Council, or SEC, coordinates the annual canned food drive, which began earlier this month and will end on Oct. 31. In 2016, the collection drive raised 4,553 cans, which equates to 3,638 lbs of food — enough for around 3,000 individual meals.

SEC President Mike Peng said this year’s target is 5,000 cans in an effort to replenish Central Texas Food Bank’s depleted resources.

“This year is especially important since Hurricane Harvey happened in Houston, and a lot of food donations are going to the Houston area food bank,” chemical engineering senior Peng said. “Central Food Bank is actually kind of short this year, so we’re trying to make an even bigger push to collect as many cans as possible going into the holiday season for these families that depend on this food bank.”

Extensive damage caused by the hurricane prompted food banks across Texas to send resources into affected regions, said Felicia Pena, Central Texas Food Bank community engagement director.

“We did do a lot of disaster relief when working with Houston food banks to make sure they got the food they needed,” Pena said. “We saw an increase in who we served because of Hurricane Harvey and had some very targeted efforts. The hurricane utilized a lot of our resources, and it was so unexpected.”

This year, nine total college councils are working to promote collection, including Moody’s Communication Council.

“It is more important now than ever, with the impact Harvey has had on Texas residents,” Communication Council President Casey Brennan said.

Competition is an important aspect of the drive, Peng said. On Halloween, all nine councils will come together for an official weigh-in of total cans collected. The college that has amassed the most cans receives a trophy.

“It’s a real competition,” Peng said. “We try to make it as real as possible and kind of have that pride factor to go with your individual school.”

The drive has been a staple service project for a while, Peng said.

“The Student Engineering Council’s been doing it for years and years,” Peng said. “This is one of the ways we can reach out beyond Cockrell, beyond UT, to Austin and better lives there.”

Engineering assistant professor Todd Humphreys gives a lecture at a research symposium on Tuesday evening. 

Photo Credit: Fabian Fernandez | Daily Texan Staff

University professors presented their research in engineering and science Tuesday at the Student Engineering Council’s Research Symposium — in a manner which event organizers claim is the first of its kind. 

The symposium held the discussion in the style of TED Talks, a series of lesson-based conferences intended to spread ideas. Jacob Sacks, biomedical engineering junior and event organizer, said covering such a wide range of topics — from revisiting Metcalfe’s Law on the equation of the value of a network to researching stealth-hacking attacks on autonomous unmanned vehicles of the future — made this different from any previous research symposiums held at the University.

“[There have] been other research symposiums, but this is the first of these presented in a way so it is targeted toward a larger audience,” Sacks said. “It’s applicable to everyone, or at least something they can find interesting.”

Brent Iverson, chemistry professor and dean of the School of Undergraduate Studies, said the research he and others are currently working on, which focuses on binding DNA molecules by using complimentary charges, has the potential to create uses for DNA in the drug market.  

“You can think about treating the diseases we can’t treat today,” Iverson said. “You can think about cancer. You can think about retroviral diseases like HIV.” 

Biomedical engineering professor Stanislav Emelianov also presented on progress in the field of cancer research. Emelianov said he hopes to detect and treat cancer through completely noninvasive procedures.

“I’ve seen ‘Star Trek,’” Emelianov said. “They cure diseases without cutting skin. Why can’t we do that? Not only will we detect the diseases at the cellular and molecular level. We will start treating them … [With photoacoustic imaging], we hope to treat it without cutting the skin.”

In addition to highlighting ways research can advance the field of medicine, professors spoke on the potential for defense mechanisms against hackers and how research changed their own personal future. David Laude, chemistry professor and senior vice provost for enrollment and graduation management, said his initial devotion to the research of different topics led to his realization that he desired to live a life full of constant change.

“I value the fact that I create error all the time in my life,” Laude said. “When I think about how my life worked out, I realize that, along the way, I was honoring these odd moments of epiphany … I’m no longer a famous scientist, but a guy that loves every day that I live.”

Civil engineering student Saif Al-Shmaisani participates in Chubby Bunny, one of the events of UT’s Engineers Week. 

Photo Credit: Sam Ortega | Daily Texan Staff

The UT engineering community is forming ties this week through a series of events and competitions, collectively called Engineers Week, which occurs annually. 

The Student Engineering Council hosts E-Week, a national event, which at UT consists of multiple competitions held by various engineering societies. The council is an umbrella organization which represents the engineering societies within the Senate of College Councils.

Events hosted Monday included foosball games, a marshmallow toss and a game of musical chairs.

Individual societies, such as the Engineering Chamber Orchestra, finance their event or make sure it’s low-cost, EChO member Melanie Kong said. EChO hosted a musical chairs competition Monday afternoon that drew a noisy crowd in the mechanical engineering building.

“For us, this was very low cost,” Kong said. “We just had to make sure we had the room reserved.”

Council member Albert Chen, who attended Engineering Chamber Orchestra’s musical chairs event, said that while he knew many of the people at the event, he still values E-Week.

“I am a part of SEC, so I do know a lot of the people here, but I did also see people that I haven’t seen in a long time,” Chen said. “With biomedical engineering, we spend a lot of time with people in the same major. But E-Week is just a good time; we set aside some time to see people we haven’t seen in a long time.”

While E-Week is held annually, this year the council focused on publicizing the event through different avenues to increase participation, E-Week co-chair Baha Eren said.

“We realize that a lot of engineers don’t like to get involved in community stuff,” Eren said. “We publicized through more social media, such as Facebook, Twitter. Actually, it’s proven to be pretty successful so far.”

The council and a corporate supporter — this year, it’s BASF — pay for the larger events of E-Week, such as the banquet and the Dr. Ramshorn Competition, a co-ed pageant, according to Farzad Yousefi, the council’s vice president of finance. 

For Eric Lucha, pageant contestant and electrical engineering senior, E-Week and the pageant are chances to prove himself, even if the pageant is a “silly” event. 

“More than anything though, this pageant is a way of separating the best looking from the good looking,” Lucha said. “Some might say that’s shallow. I say I don’t know what that means.”

The article was updated after its original posting. BASF is the council's corporate supporter this year.