Build18 must supplement creativity with inclusivity

Build18 must supplement creativity with inclusivity. (credit: Kyung Min Lee/) Build18 must supplement creativity with inclusivity. (credit: Kyung Min Lee/)

Some Carnegie Mellon students can find their majors restrictive and overly structured, but last week’s Build Week, part of the ECE department’s annual Build18 festival, was a commendable effort to give students a creative outlet for their engineering work.

According to a university press release, Build18 — now in its sixth year — showcases the work of 74 student teams. During Build Week, participants work together to produce a prototype of their projects. This year, the week culminated in a collection of group displays on Friday in Wiegand Gymnasium. The projects were innovative, ambitious, and diverse, including everything from a mail-delivering blimp to an electronic tug-of-war game.

While all Carnegie Mellon students are technically allowed to participate, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, participation is limited by the stipulation that every team must include at least one ECE major.

The Tartan applauds the ECE department for its efforts to foster student creativity, but suggests that the initiative could be strengthened and made more inclusive by expanding the participation criteria.

Build18 not only offers unstructured activity for students. It also allows them to apply principles they learn in the classroom to produce tangible results. As an educational experience, it is important for engineering students to think creatively about their course material and see the practical applications of their studies. Furthermore, the festival encourages students to have fun and be playful with their work in what is often a demanding program.

However, the initiative could be improved by eliminating the requirement of one ECE major per team. The skills of Carnegie Mellon students are so diverse across disciplines that there seems to be no convincing reason why the festival can’t be as inclusive of students as possible.

Surely, the Build18 experience would be a positive one for any member of the student community. Regardless of their fields of study or affiliation with the ECE department, every student should be allowed to partake in Build18 and similar events that allow them to harness their skills and creativity.