A History of Engineers’ Week

University Archives image of the first kow-tow in 1905.

Mizzou Engineering perform the first “kow-tow” on the steps of the Engineering building in 1905. (University Archives, C:9/00/1).

As a tradition with origins stemming back to the 1903, all engineering students revere Mizzou’s Engineers’ Week. Legend has it that the tradition began on a beautiful sunny day in the spring of 1903 when engineering students were in class for six days out of the week and had few chances for respite. Upon the morning of March 17, an anonymous proclamation — some believe by the Saint himself — was found on the bulletin board of the Engineering building, reading: “St. Patrick was an Engineer. Holiday today.” Nevertheless, the “discovery” that St. Patrick was an engineer was worthy of celebration and skipping classes. (It is rumored that an engineering student also proved this discovery mathematically.)

In light of overwhelming evidence and the mysterious proclamation, a class officer’s meeting was hastily called, and a formal proclamation was drafted declaring that St. Patrick’s Day to be a holiday for all engineers. Engineering students consequently collected in the Quad until the University President Jesse came to silence the crowd, ordering the “Gentlemen to go back to class, and the roughnecks to go uptown.” Not surprisingly, the men headed uptown.

By 1906, several of the traditions still practiced today were in full swing: Missouri’s Engineer’s Song, St. Patrick’s Ball, the knighting ceremony, the discovery of the Blarney Stone and the appearance of St. Patrick himself – the patron saint of engineering. Because of this celebration, the shamrock and St. Patrick have become the icons of the College of Engineering.

E-week has continued to grow throughout the years and has seen the addition of the Green Tea ceremony, various stunts, such as turning the lighted dome atop Jesse Hall green, and the rivalry between the engineering students and the law school over a stolen Engineers’ Week queen and a 75-foot snake.

St. Patrick’s celebration is a week-long event that engineering students look forward to every year, hoping to maintain and exceed the traditions of more than 100 years.