The music blared through the sound system at Draddy Gymansium, only receiving competition for the title of most resounding noise from the chatter and chants of the more than 300 people that convened in the venue.
But this boisterous group wasn’t in Draddy for a Manhattan College basketball game. Not even for a sporting event either.
On April 26, students from the four disciplines of the School of Engineering vied for bragging rights in the second annual Battle of the Brains competition, which pitted the disciplines against each other in several engineering-related challenges.
“It’s fun because at the heart of engineering is problem-solving,” Andrew Foertsch, a senior civil engineer who competed at the event said, “and then at the heart of every teenager or every young adult is competition too. So it’s a way to mix competition with problem-solving, and competing like that in college, that’s what it’s all about.”
The second edition of the Battle of the Brains was organized by a board consisting of members from the clubs from the four engineering disciplines. Members from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers began to plan for the competition in October, with tasks like advertising and looking for challenges that would fit the competition.
Although not involved in the 2016 edition, behind the initial idea for the Battle of the Brains was Vincent Terrone, a senior who came up with the idea to have the event in 2015. Terrone wanted to be part of an event where all four disciplines got to compete against each other, and after speaking with his roommate, he presented the idea to the engineering clubs, which took care of creating the competition.
“What I want people to take away from this is make friends with the people that are in your major,” Terrone, president of ASCE in 2015 said. “Make friends with the people that you’re working with. Enjoy every second of it and work together, collaborate. Don’t miss the chance to go through school and not make friends with everyone that’s in your major.”
It was an idea Terrone thought would help engineers socialize, since there weren’t many events that allowed that to happen at Manhattan.
“You don’t get very many opportunities to work with other departments,” Rick Schmidt, a senior and member of the board that organized the event said, “and you might have friends in other departments and so forth, but there really aren’t events like this where we bring everybody together.”
“It also causes a camaraderie between the departments because you get freshmen meeting the upperclassmen that they may have never met before and now they’re getting to compete with them side by side in this event,” Nora Borsare, also a senior and member of the board in charge the event said.
The competition consisted of teams within each discipline having to complete a task related to their respective field. Among some of the challenges, the mechanical engineers were asked to build a pendulum device out of materials like a pizza box, thumb tacks, popsicle sticks, and string, while the chemical engineers had to fill up a balloon by combining the right amount of vinegar and baking soda, which would create an acid-base reaction producing carbon dioxide.
The challenges were a surprise to the contestants, who had 20 minutes to complete them.
“You don’t,” Foertsch said about preparing for the event. “You show up, you change your t-shirt and get ready to compete.”
The civil engineers took home the bragging rights in the second edition of the Battle of the Brains, but for Dana Coniglio, a sophomore civil engineer competing in her second event, the win was just an added bonus to an eventful day.
“Honestly, I didn’t even know that we won,” Coniglio said. “I was like ‘wait a second, what?’ I thought we were just goofing around with the trophy, but honestly, it didn’t even matter because we didn’t win last year and I had just as great of a time. Honestly, it would be great to be in the civil office, but it’s just fun to have fun with our friends and be able to get away from work and do something fun. Whether we did win, but if we didn’t it would’ve had just as great of a time.”
The second event was a success for Terrone and the board, who implemented changes such as the addition of a lightning round and the incorporation of students from the school of science as judges.
For Terrone, the groundwork is in place to make the Battle of the Brains an annual event for many years to come.
“I think the seeds for this competition are always there because there’s that inter-rivalry between the four majors always,” Terrone said. “You’re always going to have people that’ll want to do it. It’s just a matter of the four clubs working together and collaborating and organizing. I can only expect this to continue to grow, because it’s getting bigger and bigger every year.”