TCM Day: Campus Tradition Open to All


TCM Day: Campus Tradition Open to All


Engineering students who are members of the mighty Guard of St. Pat at UTEP spent Spring Break rehearsing for the Coming of St. Pat, one of many activities taking place during TCM Day on March 21. Photo by J.R. Hernandez,  UTEP News Service
Engineering students who are members of the mighty Guard of
St. Pat at UTEP spent Spring Break rehearsing for the Coming of
St. Pat, one of many activities taking place during TCM Day on
March 21.
Photo by J.R. Hernandez / UTEP News Service

Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Jessie the Yodeling Cowgirl and other memorable characters from the Toy Story film series will join Miners to witness the Coming of St. Pat at The University of Texas at El Paso during Texas College of Mines Day — or TCM Day — on Friday, March 21.

Celebrated each year in March in observance of St. Patrick's Day, TCM Day is the oldest continuous student tradition at UTEP.

The annual rite of passage started in 1920 when UTEP was known as the Texas College of Mines and Metallurgy to initiate new engineers and geologists into the Order of St. Patrick, the patron saint of engineers.

For the first time, students, faculty and staff from all disciplines will join engineering majors in the festivities to honor the University's mining heritage and earn their official TCM Day Green Cards.

"Instead of painting green lines to divide the university, engineering students will lead the Long Green Line and the other festivities throughout the day," Gabby Gandara, director of engineering student services, said about the green lines that engineering students traditionally paint prior to TCM Day to separate the College of Engineering from the rest of the University. "This will be a new and stronger TCM Day that will last the next 100 years or more of UTEP life."

Also gone are the days when participants were splashed with green paint and other hijinks occurred.

"The year I did it, it was in the foundry (in the engineering building complex)," said Kayla Morales, a senior civil engineering major who went through the initiation two years ago. "They turned off all the lights, they had crazy music, and it was pitch black; you couldn't see anything. You had fog and weird smells. But at the same time it was fun. I participated with two of my really good classmates so we've been together since then."

But not all of the day's rituals have changed.

One popular activity is the Coming of St. Pat. Each year, a senior engineering student is voted by the Engineering Student Leadership Council to be St. Pat and preside over all of the engineering events throughout the school year. The identity of St. Pat is revealed at the end of a theatrical skit, which will take place at Magoffin Auditorium.

Morales, along with 11 engineering students who are members of the mighty Guard of St. Pat at UTEP, spent spring break organizing this year's Toy Story themed production.

Morales, who also wrote the script, will play Jessie the Yodeling Cowgirl. The story's premise is that Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Jessie, Stinky Pete the Prospector, Barbie and a few other toys are determined to get to a toy convention at UTEP that is taking place during the University's Centennial year. They put their engineering skills to work and invent a teletransporter machine that will take them to infinity and beyond, which is the UTEP campus.

At the end of the skit, Jessie will be revealed as St. Pat, and she will lead future engineers, alumni and participants from the other colleges and school in the "Long Green Line," a procession to the Classroom Building, where a team challenge course will start. Former St. Pat skit characters include a Maya God, Alice in Wonderland, a Ninja Turtle and Cleopatra.

"The St. Pats that I've seen in the past have been people who I've always looked up to, who upon graduation they have a great job opportunity," Morales explained. "As a freshman, I didn't really understand engineering and all it had to offer and now I want to have that opportunity and be like that person (who graduated before me)."

The festivities will start with registration at 7:30 a.m. in the Sun Bowl north parking lot.

Participants are asked to bring a white T-shirt, $3 and two canned goods for the El Paso Rescue Mission, whose building was formerly known as Hacienda Tech where engineering courses were taught during the 1970s. The first 500 participants will receive an orange hardhat.

Miners will then whitewash the "M" on the mountain off of Sun Bowl Drive, a tradition that dates backs to 1923 when students first assembled brooms, buckets and whitewash to paint the "M" on Mount Franklin.

"Participants will be put into teams to tackle this activity that historically could last as long as three hours," Gandara said. "This year the Engineering Student Leadership Council aims to do it in 45 minutes. This is also part of the emphasis on teamwork and safety."

Afterward the whitewashing, a simulated dynamite blast will take place at Sun Bowl stadium where participants will also learn the new song for the College of Engineering taught to them by visitors from Fort Bliss. Alumni and students who are interested in the songwriting contest have until March 17 to submit a song and lyrics to The winner will receive $250.

Miners will then head to Magoffin Auditorium to witness the Coming of St. Pat and then head over to the team challenge, a seven station obstacle course where they will learn about the evolution of mining from using serapes or pans to sift for gold and other mining techniques, such as hydraulic mining.

As a final step to earning their Green Cards, participants will kiss the Blarney Stone, a 1,000 pound boulder in front of the Engineering Building, which will be painted green for the occasion. The act is said to give the kisser the gift of eloquence and persuasiveness.

"We want (other majors including faculty and staff) to go through all of these activities so they can understand the origins of engineering at UTEP," Gandara said. "They'll also learn about the engineering connection to St. Pat."

A St. Pat's Feast and awards presentation will follow from noon to 2 p.m. in the courtyard of the Chemistry and Computer Science Building. The menu includes green enchiladas.

Civil engineering student Luis Hernandez is completely comfortable with changing the tradition to include students from all majors. He remembers a nursing student participating in TCM Day activities with him last year.

"It's part of the whole UTEP experience to bring everybody else in to be part of all of these activities," Hernandez said.

Morales hopes that TCM Day this year will be unforgettable.

"I'm hoping it'll be something where people can look back and say, 'Wow, that was a neat year to do TCM,'" Morales said. "Not only because it's the Centennial, but because everyone involved seems to be so enthusiastic and energetic about it."

To pre-register or for a list of TCM Day activities, visit