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Engineering week carries on tradition

Saturday, March 15, 2008 | 5:29 p.m. CDT; updated 3:00 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Matthew Cozad and Emily Gogel escort "St. Patrick" as they exit the 102nd annual knighting ceremony as fellow knights do the traditional grand kow-tow on the shamrock between Lafferre and Switzler Halls at MU on Friday. The knighting ceremony is one of the oldest traditions at MU and of E-week. The grand kow-tow started as a tradition with St. Patrick's first visit to campus in 1905. It is done in reverence and respect for the great patron saint.

COLUMBIA — Most people know St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, but he also happens to be the patron saint of engineering.

Long ago, MU engineering figured that was reason enough to celebrate engineering during the week leading up to St. Patrick’s Day.

Timeline

1903:

Engineering students who attended class six of seven days decided they needed a break. Since St. Patrick was the patron saint of engineering, the students decided to cut class on St. Patrick’s Day in his honor. The students decided to do the same next year, and soon it became tradition to celebrate engineering on St. Patrick’s Day.

1906:

Engineering students honored those who made notable contributions to the engineering program and the Knights of St. Patrick was started. This tradition has been carried on throughout the years.

1921:

The engineering celebration was extended from one day to the entire week. SOURCE: eweek.missouri.edu

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And, last week was full of events that celebrated engineering.

There was a dome lighting, a road rally and a St. Pat’s ball. The most unique and important event, however, was the knighting ceremony.

This ceremony is the oldest continuing tradition of engineering week and is one of the oldest traditions at MU. Last Friday’s knighting ceremony was the 102nd.

Senior engineering students who have made notable contributions to the engineering program were made Knights of St. Patrick. The outdoor ceremony took place between Lafferre and Switzler Halls, near the stone that displays the symbol of engineering, the shamrock. Legend around the MU campus says that a student who walks across the shamrock mosaic will marry an engineer.

The ceremony began with a choir in green bowler hats who sang “Erin Go Bragh (St. Pat!)” and the Missouri Engineer Song.

The main event was the entrance of “St. Patrick,” who made his way slowly to the stage wearing a green robe with white hair sticking out.

He knighted students and others who have made contributions to the field of engineering and engineering education. Chancellor Brady Deaton was among the honorary members.

Wearing a tie decorated with shamrocks, Deaton said he loved the ceremony and was glad to take part in such a unique tradition.

“I feel very honored,” he said.

Students filed onto the stage one by one as their names were called to be knighted. Each person knelt before St. Patrick and kissed the Blarney Stone. St. Patrick touched them on the shoulder with his staff and each stood, a Knight of St. Patrick.

Matt Cozad, the St. Pat’s Board president, became a knight.

He said it was an honor to be knighted and that this had been the best engineering week so far.

“This E-week was monumental for me,” he said. “The camaraderie meant a lot to me.”

Michelle Petty was also knighted.

Petty was a queen candidate for the St. Pat’s court and was involved with events all week.

She said she loved this year’s engineering week but it was nothing new.

“I’ve always been excited about E-week,” she said.

There was still one more tradition to carry out as St. Patrick departed, the grand kow-tow. The kow-tow is bow of respect.

As St. Patrick exited, the crowd knelt to the ground and bowed until their noses touched the ground. They didn’t rise until he had departed.

But, the ceremony wasn’t just for those who were knighted.

Mike Stagg, a member of St. Pat’s Board and Chi Epsilon, a civil engineering honor society, came out to watch. He said St. Pat’s Board members weren’t required to go but he wanted to go anyway.

“It’s a 100-year-old tradition,” he said. “Why miss out?”


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