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College of Engineering | March 15, 2023

UTEP's Orange Nation Turns Green on TCM Day


On March 10, 2023, The University of Texas at El Paso's campus turned green as students, faculty and staff celebrated TCM Day, the longest-running student tradition on campus. The annual event pays homage to St. Pat, patron saint of engineers, and began in 1920 when UTEP was known as the Texas College of Mines and Metallurgy, or TCM. Since its beginnings, TCM Day has evolved to include various festivities that are open to all students, faculty, staff and alumni, regardless of their major.

Every year on TCM Day, the campus transforms into a sea of green as offices around campus participate in the annual decorating contest. From green dinosaurs to shamrocks in every nook and cranny, the staff and students go all out to show their spirit. This year, the day started with a simulated dynamite blast, then continued with participants learning the Mining Engineer’s song, and experiencing the Coming of St. Pat. The day culminated with the traditional bean feed (aka lunch).

This year's TCM Day was truly one for the history books, with close to 150 students, faculty, staff and alumni attending the festivities. For the first time in history, the College of Engineering Dean Kenith Meissner, UTEP President Heather Wilson and Provost John Wiebe all competed alongside engineering students in the Team Mining Challenge. This year, the race was especially intense, with a mix of students, faculty and university leaders contending for the top team spot.

"As a new dean of the College of Engineering, it was an honor to experience my first TCM Day and to see firsthand the dedication and passion for keeping these traditions alive," Meissner said. "The Team Mining Challenge was an exciting experience, and it was amazing to see our students work together and apply engineering skills to real-world problems. It's a testament to the quality of our engineering programs and the talent of our students. I look forward to many more TCM Days and seeing the contributions our students will make to the field of engineering in the years to come."

Senior mechanical engineering major Maximilian Rothblatt, referred to as O'Rothblatt on TCM Day, was elected to represent St. Pat, the patron saint of engineers, and serve as the student leader during the day’s challenges. TCM Day integrates team-building activities throughout the day while challenging and engaging all participants. These activities help them build stronger relationships with their peers, professors and alumni.

"I am honored to represent the patron saint of engineers as part of this year's TCM Day," O'Rothblatt said. “A truly unforgettable experience.”

One of the highlights of the day is the traditional whitewashing of the M on the mountain, which is a large letter M visible from campus. Members of the Mighty Guard of St. Pat, UTEP Facilities crews and other volunteers gathered to paint the letter as part of a tradition that started in 1923 on Mount Franklin.

The Team Mining Challenge is a favorite tradition among UTEP students where teams of students compete in mining-related challenges to win a $500 prize. The competition included 11 mining-related challenges, such as riding a miniature mine cart, the traditional miner process of mucking, and crossing a simulated field impacted by hydraulic mining.

In addition to these time-honored traditions, there was also the Alpha Phi Omega (APO) awards ceremony. The APO Engineering Fraternity was an engineering organization founded on campus in 1919. Every year, students are recognized for their outstanding service and leadership among engineering and geology students while honoring former APO members after whom the awards are named.

"TCM Day is more than a tradition. It is a legacy of the esprit de corps of past students, like the APOs, who have impacted how current day UTEP students view their voyage through college," said Gabby Gandara, assistant dean for student success. "I hope the ideas of teamwork, grit and ganas while having fun is what students take away from a TCM Day experience. Having our University’s top leadership participate in the Team Mining Challenge with the students is what it’s all about. These experiences will become the memories that make UTEP alumni proud Miners. And that’s no blarney!"

Despite the fun and games, TCM Day holds a special significance for UTEP students. As the day came to a close, students, faculty,and staff left campus with a renewed sense of pride in their school and their shared history. For one day each year, the Orange Nation turns green to honor St. Pat, and the legacy of the Texas College of Mines and Metallurgy.

College of Engineering Communications

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