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University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering

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Annual IEEE Chili Cook-Off Draws Large Crowd

By: 

Shar-Day Campbell
Electrical and Computer Engineering Professors (from left) Len Trombetta, Stuart Long, Valery Kalatsky and David Shattuck compete in the infamous Slide Rule Contest at the 29th Annual IEEE Chili Cook-Off. Photo courtesy of Loretta Herbek.
Electrical and Computer Engineering Professors (from left) Len Trombetta, Stuart Long, Valery Kalatsky and David Shattuck compete in the infamous Slide Rule Contest at the 29th Annual IEEE Chili Cook-Off. Photo courtesy of Loretta Herbek.

The aroma of award winning chili and the sounds of the latest music filled the air at the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) UH Student Chapter’s 29th Annual Chili Cook-Off on March 13 outside of the college's Y-Building.

Hundreds of students, faculty, staff and corporate representatives congregated to participate in the pre-spring break festivities. Several faculty members, including Professor Len Trombetta—who appeared as his alter ego,The Nerd—took off their “academic” hats and were good sports in the infamous dunking booth and other activities. An American Gladiator-inspired jousting event also attracted spectators as participants constructively released their academic frustrations in "the ring.”

Exclusively for professors, the long-running Slide Rule Contest began as a promising opportunity for a new contender to defeat the reigning champion, Professor Stuart Long. A Chili Cook-Off tradition, the contest presented contestants with problems typically solved by the computer and challenged them to only use a slide rule to answer them. Intrigued by this nearly extinct practice, the crowd watched in awe as Long solved the tie breaker and remained the champion for 2008.

Broken down in to two categories, student groups and companies, the Chili Cook-Off crowned Fluor as the winner of the best company chili and the UH IEEE student chapter as the winner out the student groups.

Fueled by the support of corporate sponsors—CenterPoint Energy, Williams Gas and Pipeline, the UH Engineering Alumni Association, Burns and McDonnel, Pathfinder Energy Services, Fluor Corporation, BP, Halliburton, Schlumberger and Lyondell Basell Industries—the cook-off was a premiere fundraising event for the organization and provided opportunities for the students to mingle with company representatives in a less formal fashion, for student groups to market their organization and for members of the Cullen College of Engineering community to genuinely have fun.

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