Monday, October 31, 2005

Hail Carnegie and the Kiltie Band

This past weekend was homecoming at my alma mater, Carnegie Mellon University. You may recall CMU being in the news recently for Red Team, the team that built an unmanned robotic car for the DARPA challenge and for a host of other things. It has been 15 years since I graduated and while I remember a whole lot of people sitting next to me in the tent at graduation, not a whole lot of the class of 1990 came back to celebrate as far as I could tell. If any of you are out there please leave a post in the comments.

I mostly went back to see the world famous Kiltie Band march and play, and most especially cheer during the football game. Carnegie Mellon is a school full of smart people. This is not bragging, it is the simple scary truth. When you take a bunch of clever people and ask them to make up football cheers you get a lot of humorous, quirky cheers. The alumni seem to like it, although they are also products of the same crucible, so that might be expected. My favorite is the CIT (Carnegie Institute of Technology) Cheer. It's how I know the digits of Pi.

Ye Olde CIT Cheer

E to the X, dy dx, e to the y, dy,
tangent, secant, cosine, sine,
square root, cube root, log of e
watercooled slipstick, CIT!

Please no comments on the MIT cheer and the CIT (California Institute of Technology) versions of the same cheer. The cheer's origin is shrouded in mystery (and we were first).

Andrew Carnegie was Scottish and Andrew Mellon was also Scottish, so the Kiltie band wears kilts. This is us way back in 1989 (I am the 2nd Tuba from the right, click for larger photo). If you ask me what the school colors are, I would say plaid, our football team is the Tartans. Our football mascot is a giant Scottie Dog. Here I am on Saturday proudly displaying my Plaid Power towel. I'm on the right in the vintage Kiltie Band hat.

The homecoming game was against Case Western Reserve which is as much a football powerhouse as CMU (not at all). Since both schools are technical schools the game has been billed as the Academic Bowl since the first one occurred in 1986, my freshman year. You might remember that one since it made CNN and ESPN because it was combined with Diskette Day. Back when the 3.5 inch disk storage was new and a little expensive, the school had the clever idea of giving away diskettes to entice students to the game. On the first touchdown by CMU, everybody threw their diskettes on the field. It was loads of fun.

This year's game was very exciting. CMU won with a field goal to break a tie in the last seconds. We earned the right to keep the Academic bowl trophy for another year.


Richard Koehler said...

From Sports Illustrated Sports Illustrated; 10/5/1987; Ballard, Sarah

Diskophilia. (Carnegie Mellon U. gave out free computer disks to lure students to football game) (column)

With student interest in Carnegie Mellon University's football fortunes in a chronic sag, Bruce Gerson, sports information director at the Pittsburgh school, which is noted for the excellence of its science and engineering departments, decided desperate measures were required. Having determined that the student body was more interested in computers than in football, Gerson staged Diskette Day at Tech Field in conjunction with the Tartans' Sept. 19 home game against the Case Western Reserve University

That makes the game September 19, 1987 which was my sophmore year not my freshman year.

Anonymous said...

That is one of the all time great SI notes. I remember that from college (I went to CMU for grad not undergrad). It was great to get Scottie Dog to come over for tailgating.

One time I yelled at the coach to stop playing so much zone - CMU stopped the game. Uniforms should be Carngeie Plaid. said...

Hey, great memories!

I WAS THE SCOTTIE DOG that day! And most of 1986-1988)

At least I had the mascot uniform to protect me from thrown diskettes!