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Pageant highlights women of engineering

staff writer

Published: Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Updated: Tuesday, February 25, 2014 00:02

Dancing to Justin Timberlake’s “I’m Bringing Sexy Back,” Olivia Leonhardt, a junior in mechanical engineering, prepared alongside fellow contestants for the Society of Women Engineer’s Miss USU Beauty Pageant that began 6 p.m. in the TSC Ballroom.

“I’m really excited see everybody else’s talent,” Leonhardt said. “There’s this witty humor with engineers that you don’t get to see on the surface too much, but some of these girls are hilarious.”

This pageant marked the seventh year the Society of Women Engineers has organized the event as part of Engineering Week and the first year the pageant was held in the ballroom.

“I was actually around when they started this,” said pageant judge Wendy Merkley. “I’ve been here forever and to see how far it has come is really neat. This is the coolest pageant we have ever had.”

The preparation for the pageant began more than a month in advance, according to Britany Chamberlain, SWE vice president of activities.

“Last night was probably the most hectic,” Chamberlain said. “I was finishing up posters and sashes and trying to make sure everything was ready to go. It was a lot of planning and a lot of emails for sure.”

The first section of the competition scored girls based on the performance of their “nerdy” talent.

“My goal is not to make everyone laugh until they cry, but a few chuckles here and there would be nice,” said mechanical engineering sophomore Emma Davis. “I’m more like, ‘Let’s just wing it while we’re at it. We’re in college, let’s have fun.’”

The second section of the competition featured the contestants dressed in professional attire and required them to answer questions that would be used in an interview setting.

“I’m most nervous about getting a question that can’t answer, that I can’t think of on the spot,” said mechanical engineering junior Starr Fowler. “Everything else I’m fine with.”

The final section of the competition was evening wear, which according to Leonhardt, was the most challenging section.

“I’m nervous for walking around in heels,” Leonhardt said. “That’s kind of the hardest part of my whole entire female life.”

Biological engineering senior Sydney Bone was crowned Engineering Queen.

“I was shocked actually,” Bone said. “I was really shocked. Everyone was so talented. I honestly didn’t really expect it.”

The first runner-up was mechanical engineering sophomore Hannah Young.

“I had never really performed in front of people before except for once,” Young said. “This was new for me and I enjoyed it. I would love to do this again next year.”

Awards were also given to Leonhardt for “most talented nerd,” mechanical engineering freshman Michelle Tucker for “most likely to succeed,” civil engineering junior Ploy Samranjit for “best dressed” and mechanical engineer freshman Liz Housley for “crowd favorite.” According to Merkley, it was difficult to choose winners for each category.

“It is actually really hard, you have to get really nit-picky,” Merkley said. “They all do a really good job and you have to start picking at silly things to differentiate.”

According to Chamberlain, the goal of the pageant was to break down stereotypes about female engineering students.

“I love that it highlights the enginnering girls,” Chamberlain said. “Everyone knows that there’s not very many, but that’s about all they know about them. Everybody knows engineering is hard and there’s a lot of homework. I’m hoping this will kind of show that our girls don’t only do homework. They have talents, they are fun, they like to dress up sometimes and showcase their personalities beyond the classroom.”

- katherine.l.larsen@gmail.com 

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