The Carnegie Mellon University community welcomed its first-year students during Orientation Week with a number of events designed to acclimate them to their new surroundings.
Following the madness of "Move-In Day," they met their resident assistant, housefellow and orientation counselors; attended Playfair, which is billed as the biggest icebreaker ever; found out about The Fence; and learned other campus lore.
Tuesday's Academic Day was an opportunity for them to meet with an advisor and ask any last-minute questions before classes began. At Convocation on Thursday, they witnessed for the first time — but certainly not the last — the university's Scottish tradition of bagpipes and kilts in an official welcome by the faculty and administration.
Finally, houses competed in Olympic-style events during House Wars 2007: Battle of the Elements, held Friday. The winning house took possession of the coveted Carnegie Cup along with bragging rights for the year.
Graduate student orientation, held Aug. 14-16, included a new lunchtime event for about 550 new grad students. During the lunch, several current students led a cross-cultural exercise to expand cultural understanding.
Carnegie Mellon West, our Silicon Valley campus, also knows how to inform its graduate students while entertaining. On one day, the West Coast students were told to divide into teams and go play with LEGOs; on another, they were handed Carnegie Mellon hats and told to go play outside. Then, they were treated to a skit put on by the dean. And last, but not least, they were instructed to perform an interpretive dance.
While the orientation involved fun and games, it was also a carefully-planned series of exercises to prepare students to take full advantage of the non-traditional classroom that Carnegie Mellon West offers.
Through the LEGO Challenge, students interacted with faculty and explored the team-building concepts and practices students will come to rely on. Time spent outdoors playing Liquid Memory resulted in getting to know, respect and trust their teammates. And when Dean Jim Morris hammed it up with the professors and staff, it was to show students how not to run a team meeting.
All important lessons considering Carnegie Mellon West students will spend each semester participating remotely on projects with teammates in places as far-flung as China, India, Saudi Arabia and states across America.
The interpretive dance? Well, that was just for fun.