A Tradition Lives On for Engineering Students : They're Nerdiest of UCI's Nerds

Times Staff Writer

With pocket protectors, slide rules and horn-rimmed glasses flying, UC Irvine engineering students blew off midterm exam steam Wednesday when they competed for the coveted title of Nerd of the Year.

The contest, won this year by a team of three electrical engineering students, proves that the people who made plastic pocket protectors famous do indeed have a sense of humor about themselves and their much-parodied life styles.

Alan Chan, 20, Sean Ho, 23, and Hanson Quan, 23, took first-place honors and collected the grand prize, a Sony Watchman television, for their rousing sendup of the popular rap song, "Wild Thing."

'Nerd Thing' Does It

Renaming the song "Nerd Thing" and giving it a new set of humorous lyrics, the trio's efforts got the midday crowd of about 300 UCI students giggling uncontrollably as they gathered in the School of Engineering Plaza. Dressed with the appropriate accouterments--plaid pants, slide rules, pocket calculators and carefully taped horn-rimmed eyeglasses--the two upperclassmen and the graduate student gyrated, danced and sang their way through their presentation.

"We are very proud of winning. This contest is a tradition here at UCI," Ho said, adding that he wasn't sure how the three newly crowned nerds were going to be able to share one television set.

A longstanding campus tradition, the contest is a highlight of the school's Engineering Week--an event designed to showcase the talents of UCI's engineering students and focus attention of the university community on the school, officials said. While the week shows off the best of the school's students, it also provides for a little fun for the exam-weary students.

And for the three faculty members who judged the contest.

"I got a real kick out of this. I especially liked the lyrics to 'Nerd Thing.' I was amazed with the efforts they put into it," said Mike McCarthy, an associate professor of mechanical engineering.

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