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News Release

Jacobs School Celebrates Pi Day With 3.14-Mile Run and Walk

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Runners at the start of last year's Pi-Mile Walk and Run
Info on this year's event:
When: noon March 14, 2013
Where: starting line at the Bear Courtyard
Why: To raise money for the San Diego Science Alliance
Registration fee: $10, will get you a T-shirt and a slice of pie
More at: https://sites.google.com/site/ucsdjgsc/

San Diego, Calif., March 11, 2013 -- Running 3.14 miles is hard. The two undergraduates who won the first-ever T-shirt design contest for the upcoming Pi-Mile Run and Walk on March 14 both agreed on that. That gave Yashna Bowen, a freshman and computer science major, an idea: the T-shirt could show a runner leaping over the number Pi—the very number of miles participants would have to overcome. She and Salome Vazquez, a mechanical engineering major, polished their design and submitted it for the contest. A few days later, they found out they had won. This is the race’s second year and the first year students could take part in a design contest for the T-shirt that all participants receive.

“It was such a surprise for us,” said Vazquez. The image on the T-shirt aims to send a positive message, she said. Although the number Pi appears like a hurdle, the runner is using it to leap forward.

“It’s an obstacle you want to overcome to build something,” said Vazquez.

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The winning T-shirt design by Salome Vazquez and Yashna Bowen.

The race’s goal is to build community and raise funds for the San Diego Science Alliance, a group that provides outreach for students in kindergarten through 12th-grade. Participants pay a $10 registration fee and receive a T-shirt and a slice of apple pie, after the race. Last year, the event raised $500 for the organization—plus enough money to cover the cost of T-shirts and pie for participants.

The race is organized by the Triton Student Engineering Council and the Jacobs Graduate Student Council. Last year, about 180 people turned out for the event. Organizers are hoping for 200 this year, said Mark Chapman, a bioengineering student and a member of the graduate student council, one of the event’s lead organizers. The race starts at noon in the Bear Courtyard.

Vazquez and Bowen both stumbled into engineering, perhaps a good example of why outreach is important, especially for underrepresented students who don’t view engineering as a possible career. Vazquez’s father was a mechanic and the two used to go to car shows together. When she was in high school, one of her teachers noticed that her folder was decorated with pictures of cars. The teacher asked Vazquez what career she wanted to pursue. Vazquez said that she wasn’t sure, but might want to go into teaching. Her teacher suggested she should be a mechanical engineer instead. That was a defining moment for her and sent her on the path toward UC San Diego.

Bowen is an international student from India. She studied programming in high school and enjoyed it. She started out as a major in Interdisciplinary Computing and the Arts in the visual arts department. But the more computer science courses she took, she more she liked that subject. So she decided to switch majors.

Bowen said she plans to volunteer at Thursday’s event. Vazquez recently broke her leg, so she won’t be running or walking. But she still plans to attend and see the T-shirt she and Bowen designed worn by participants. 

Media Contacts

Ioana Patringenaru
Jacobs School of Engineering