The following article was written by Mitesh Patel.
On this night something strange was afoot, deep in the bowels of the Skempton, whatever it was it carried down the stairway and filled the main entrance with charisma. What was the source of this commotion I hear you ask? Had women finally come to the Skempton in force? Sadly not, but what lay in 301 was very different to what us engineers are used to. This was 301 as we had never experienced it before, inside there was noise, there was energy and the smell of wine thickened the air (Editor: Dreamy!). At the front was no normal lecturer; it was what appeared to take the form of two hobbits, but they were unmistakable (y similar). Strong and proud our fearless leader stood tall (metaphorically), taking a break from sitting on the Iron Throne, the CivSoc chair, Rachel, accompanied by her pet monkey Mitesh. That night they wouldn’t be presenting their Master Plan for Battersea Power Station or their bridge to link North London to the other side of London; no that night they were there to dance! Only joking, it was of course the night of engineering philosophy.
"What is the balance between art and science when creating an iconic structure?"
This was CivSoc’s inaugural evening of engineering philosophy, “Let’s talk about…” Like Brangelina in high-vis, we adopted a programme by moTiv that was successfully running in TU Delft; staff and students sat together talking about anything that wasn’t worked solutions or exam practice! I couldn’t believe my eyes. Our most telling input, wine. With these simple ingredients we were ready to go.
"The role of women in engineering. Discuss."
There they were, sat around a table, eyeballing the crisps in front of them, pouring their first glasses; or not on Prof Buenfeld’s table, this intrepid reporter believes they got drunk just looking into his eyes (Patel, 2013). ‘What motivated you to do engineering?’ – a simple starter to get the ball rolling. Everyone discussed around their tables while nibbling away.
After Rachel’s most thunderous roar she managed to quiet the crowd, for just long enough to hear a few responses. They ranged from “I want to play god” (Shah, 2013) to “for all the dicks” (Anon, 2013).
"Cities of the future; blue green dream or reality?"
That was our last interruption of the night, to quote the scheduled program, the next hour was ‘let them get on with it’. The staff had come prepared with topics to discuss although digression was expected and encouraged. When I took a break, from sitting on the side basking in the ambience of the evening, I sat down at a table where the topic of discussion was killing babies. Red wine lips took on a whole new meaning that day. Granted when given some context it became significantly (ever so slightly) less unusual. The plates were being cleared, who knew engineers love cheese and crackers so much, the tap running dry, yet the noise did not quell. We even had a cheeky guest appearance from one Sunday Popa-Ola who was just “popping in”, he did not move from his seat for a very long time.
"The engineers as the honest broker: How should engineers engage with public debates and decision making?"
When all was said and done and we beckoned people to continue with their lives, a few left, more stayed. People from different tables migrated, others stood to talk, and some mine-swept any remaining food (Editor: Risky). The tablecloths bared the scars of penmen immortalizing their thoughts (until they were thrown in the bin). There was a rally call for more of these events to be held from both students and staff alike. Thanks must go out to all of the staff and students who gave us their time; Alison Ahearn and Andrew Wilson, of the Imperial Chaplaincy, who brought this idea to us; and to our guests from moTiv, Gunther, Hans and Renske who chose to attend while visiting from the Netherlands; and of course M&S for some top notch cheese.
On that note: We’ll see you next time, who knows what we will talk about.