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Students strut their stuff for charity, Mr. Engineer title

By Jennifer Calfas, Daily Staff Reporter
Published December 6, 2012

Two nights after the Victoria’s Secret Fashion show, a different group of models competed for the title of Mr. Engineering 2013.

Nearly 440 students gathered at STAMPS Auditorium to watch 13 Engineering students compete at the 13th annual Mr. Engineer competition, hosted by the Society of Women Engineers. The event raised money for the Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program, a charity that helps elementary and high-school students from lower-income areas develop an interest in engineering.

The competition’s theme was based on the 2012 Olympic Games and featured a talent competition, a brainteaser round and an ethics question. The 13 contestants performed in the talent portion, six semifinalists completed brainteasers and three finalists took part in the ethics round.

Engineering senior Rama Mwenesi, a representative from E-MAGINE, claimed the title of Mr. Engineer 2013.

David Munson, the dean of the College of Engineering, Chemical Engineering Prof. Omolola Eniola-Adefeso and Michigan football players Denard Robinson and Jordan Kovacs selected Mwenesi as the winner due to his high number of ticket sales — he sold more than any other student — and performance in the competition.

“I feel absolutely mind-blown,” Mwenesi said in an interview after the event. “I’m just so thrilled because realizing the cause that we’re supporting, that’s really what made me do it and go above and beyond and sell as many tickets as I possibly could, give the talent portion as much as I could and really just have a good time.”

Mwenesi, who hails from Washington, D.C. and Nairobi, Kenya, said he has never gone to the event, let alone competed in it. He said the efforts of DAPCEP encouraged him to get involved and sell tickets.

“Getting this title of Mr. Engineer is not necessarily the end goal,” Mwenesi said. “The end goal is to use this position to go out there and actively go out there and say, ‘As Mr. Engineer, I advocate on behalf of DAPCEP.’”

Mwenesi added that increasing involvement for low-income and minority students is a priority for him, because he himself is a minority on campus.

Engineering junior Emily Carroll, the college relations co-chair of the Society of Women Engineers, said the event was sold out, and raised $3,300 for DAPCEP.

Engineering senior Keith Okimura served as the Michigan Marching Band's first representative in the competition.

“To get our name out there is good,” Okimura said. “People will know that we do engineering work as well as practicing.”

For the talent portion, Okiumura played the drums and included a few sets played by the band during football games.

The contestants represented 13 different engineering-related organizations, including E-MAGINE, the Solar Car Team, the National Society of Black Engineers, Engineering Global Leadership, The Epeians, Michigan Materials Society, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Michigan Marching Band the Hybrid Racing Team, the Mars Rover Team and three fraternities, Theta Tau, Tau Beta Pi and Sigma Gamma Tau.

Engineering graduate student Mayank Agarwal said he has consistently enjoyed attending Mr. Engineer because of its ability to bring together different groups.

“Some of the organizations I’ve actually never heard of before, so it’s nice to be able to see all the different groups represented in engineering,” Agarwal said.

Mwenesi said he hopes to continue to work passionately and creatively.

“I always knew I wanted to change the world by building things, but I didn’t know how,” Mwenesi said. “Coming into college, engineering seemed like the best possible route, and I hope to proceed and get a Ph.D. in design science to take that creativity and engineering further.”