It is an old truism that the best parts about education are the parts that have nothing to do with learning, and perhaps no faculty exemplifies this more than the perpetually-pranking Engineering students of the University of British Columbia.

From time immemorial until only a couple of years ago they would parade a (buck naked) woman on horseback around campus in an homage of sorts to Lady Godiva; this is a kind of baseline, apparently present at many schools across the land. Of course there are the internecine conflicts between departments and against professors - endless wars of domination over the endlesly-repainted Cairn, assembly of cars in office spaces lacking exits large enough to drive them out, and other relatively low-impact japes.

Unlike many Engineering faculties, however, they do not restrict their activities to the campus. Miniature replicas of the Engineer's Cairn can be found dangling from several surprising locations around town and the large neon E (for Engineering, of course) from the sign atop the legendary RIDGE theatre was once made off with as a property-damaging territorial pissing. Once the engineers rigged the lights along the entirety of the Lion's Gate Bridge joining Vancouver and North Vancouver so they would flash "UBC Engineers Do It Again" in Morse code.

Periodically their antics get so ridiculous that they not only infringe upon off-campus life, but cause international incidents. In February of 1992, the Rose Bowl trophy was stolen by UBC Engineering students from the Graves Building trophy case at the University of Washington as initiation-week excess. It was returned eventually, where it was relocated to a new, "Canadian-proof" trophy case.

Still, these descriptions fail to encapsulate the essence of the UBC Engineers' greatest and most frequent works of art-damage: a 20-year tradition of the suspension of Volkswagon bugs (albeit frequently just the shells) from high places, often with an E painted on the hood to as to permit proper credit to the perpetrators. Moving in and out with ninja-like efficiency, they have been known to rig up bugs in a matter of minutes from common hanging sites such as the high dive board of the outdoor pool at the UBC Aquatic Centre, the aforementionned Lion's Gate Bridge and the Burrard Street Bridge, but they go further and further afield: on February 8th, 2000 (during "Engineering Week") an "E"-clad bug turned up hanging from the Skytrain bridge next to the Patullo Bridge over the Fraser River.

This year they thought that they would top that feat, but were intercepted in the wee hours last night by regional RCMP at the Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver, about to set a bug into suspension. This battle was lost, but the war was won - while the North Van bunch was being read their rights, another group of a dozen UBC engineering students was simultaneously sending another bug over the edge of a railing - of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, ultimately dangling 100 feet above the water for hours, bedecked with a triumphal Candian flag, and snaggling morning commuter traffic. Read about it at http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/archive/2001/02/05/MN60371.DTL

It is unlikely that the UBC engineers will ever be in a position to top that prank, but I am sure that won't prevent them from trying... but first let's see that stalwart dozen try to make it back across the border unscathed.

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