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Engineering Students Have ‘Gone Green’ Since 1920s

TCM 2010
As the sun rises on yet another St. Patrick’s Day, another 100 or so UTEP students are enjoying their spring break comforted in the knowledge that they are card-carrying members of The Guard of St. Pat.

The students earned that distinction last week during the annual Texas College of Mines Day activities, known as TCM Day, which included whitewashing the “M” on the mountain, singing engineering songs to the dean of the College of Liberal Arts, competing in the St. Pat’s Olympics, and kissing UTEP’s Blarney Stone, which is located in the arroyo adjacent to the College of Engineering.

The traditional celebration marked the University’s roots as a mining and engineering school and honors St. Patrick, the patron saint of engineers.

The goal of the activities is to build camaraderie among the students and a connection with the University that, hopefully, will last a lifetime.

“These activities are meant to get students from different departments to interact with each other. They learn about teamwork and service to the University while having fun with each other,” said Joe Ramos, coordinator of the Academic Center for Engineers and Scientists, and one of the TCM Day advisers. “People think of engineers as bookworms, but this is our day to let go.”

Some of the traditions date to the 1920s, but “the re-painting of the lines” started after 1949. That year the Texas College of Mines changed its name to Texas Western College. Legend has it that the dean of engineering said: “You can call yourselves whatever you want … but on this side, we will always be TCM.” In response, engineering students drew green lines through campus to separate the new Texas Western College and the old Texas College of Mines.

Since then, students have painted a kelly green line in front of Quinn Hall, the former engineering building, and later along Hawthorne Street in front of the College of Engineering

Gabby Gandara, director of The Plaza in the College of Engineering, recalls being voted “St. Pat” for the 1997 celebration. The title goes to a senior considered to have the most school spirit. He dressed as an overgrown leprechaun. He said other winners have dressed as Elvis, Cleopatra and a green Jedi knight. “It was fun,” he said as he showed off a snapshot of himself in his green garb.

This year’s “St. Pat,” senior mechanical engineering major Zenia Garcia, said she was honored by her selection. The theme of her green costume was based on the 1990s film Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. She described the event as a fun opportunity for engineering students to learn about their heritage.

“Most people don't really understand the point of TCM until they are actually part of it,” Garcia said. “The whole event just gives you a feeling of awesomeness.”

The memories created on TCM Day, regardless of the decade, are among the most vivid for former engineering students, said Keith Fong, president of UTEP’s engineering alumni chapter.

“Becoming a member of the ‘Mighty Guard of St. Pat’ is an experience that you carry all through your life. When engineering alumni meet and get to know each other, we often talk about our experience and how much we enjoyed it.”

This year, with the inauguration of UTEP’s engineering alumni chapter, Fong foresees opportunities to build on the history among today’s students as well as provide them with moral and financial support.

To learn more TCM Days, visit

Originally posted on News @ UTEP.