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Grab Your Jackets Travel Blog: Making my way Downtown

Walking fast, faces pass. I’m homebound

The Georgia Institute of Technology Montgomery Knight Aerosp Photo by Philip Mccollum/Bloomberg via Getty Images
COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 02 Pitt at Georgia Tech Photo by David John Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Vanessa Carlton References aside, this is homecoming weekend. The time to welcome friends and family back to campus to enjoy the atmosphere and reminisce about the time they spent here.

Georgia Tech v Pittsburgh Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Following last week’s big win against Pitt the Jackets have found new life. The fanbase and the team are excited and can’t wait for this Saturday’s game against Duke. With that in mind I am expecting to see a bigger turnout for this homecoming that what we have seen the past few years

Things to See: Georgia Tech Campus

This is what it’s all about people. you come home and see how the campus has changed since the last time you were here. If you’re an older alumni you get a good look around and you’re like “Man none of this looks the same... why do all the new students get it so good?” For all the newer alumni you get to take a look at what all those student loans you’re still paying off ended up buying on the Tech campus. Well let’s take a look around.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 04 NIU at Georgia Tech Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Somethings never change though. Bobby Dodd is still the oldest stadium in the NCAA and despite some renovations to the locker rooms and other areas for player access, for the fans the experience will be essentially the same. Bench seats, expensive food, fraternity guys and sorority girls wearing suits and dresses, and plenty of fans who are yelling their heads off or covered in body paint... good times.

climb up freshman hill (if you dare) and you will notice the Andrew Carnegie Library has undergone some serious renovations with more study space and an open layout that I appreciate with an interactive media bridge (not sure what exactly that means but its cool and colorful). The Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons (CULC) hasn’t changed much since it’s initial construction, but it’s still one of the coolest buildings on campus.

The Georgia Institute of Technology Montgomery Knight Aerosp Photo by Philip Mccollum/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Tech Tower is still the symbol of campus and despite some new statues in the surrounding area nothing to crazy has changed surrounding the Tower. Wrapping around Ferst Drive, and past the aerospace schools you will come across the new renovations to the student center. There is a new exhibition hall and pavilions in place where there used to be an einstein bros bagel shop (not sure if the bagel shop is still there though).

If you look around you may also see some renovated PI mile markers on the ground which have been renovated to be more recognizable. There is also work being done on a garage for the Ramblin’ Wreck. The garage is still in the process of being constructed but you may be able to see some signs of where it is being constructed.

There are other planned updates to the campus which are still underway. The Aerospace facilities will be getting an Engineering Aircraft Hanger (wait... really? yeah that’s a thing). Georgia Tech just purchased some space off of Northside Drive which they are going to transform into what is being called a “New Research Community, The Science Square”. I’ll be honest, I haven’t seen that yet but it sounds cool.

Georgia Tech Traditions

Touching on some of the same things we did last year, but they are called traditions for a reason so I don’t expect them to change anytime soon.

The freshman cake race is a wild run worth going to if you can stand getting up at the crack of dawn. It’s what it sounds like on the tin, guys and girls race to see who is the fastest person on campus. winners of the race get a full size cake and all participants get a cupcake. Not the most well known event but definitely a spectacle.

The Mini 500 is a tricycle race conducted the week of homecoming the day prior to the game. The race is conducted by teams of racers using tricycles provided by the Reck Club. Tricycles can be modified with a single support brace, since college students tend to weigh more than 5 year olds, but are otherwise unmodified. The racers will run the cycle around Peter’s Parking deck for 15 laps (10 laps for female teams), with required pit stops where the front tire of the tricycle must be taken off and rotated.

The whole thing is completely ridiculous. Racers have to maintain contact with the seat, leading to many unusual stances taken in an attempt to go faster than other riders. The race has been covered in the past and there was a commercial about it a few years ago. Having been a participant that had to push the corpse of my tricycle across the finish line after it collapsed under my weight, I’ll tell you it is more fun to watch than to participate in.

Allegedly the mini 500 came about from the tradition of fraternities hazing brothers on campus by making them ride tricycles to class. I could find no actual evidence of this, but if that is the case I would like to say I prefer this form of hazing over the making kids drink until they collapse form of hazing.

The last tradition we are highlighting is the Ramblin’ Wreck Parade. The wreck parade has been a staple of homecoming since 1932 (although it was postponed in the years 1942 and 1943 due to fuel shortages associated with WW2). The parade has 3 sets of cars which run from McCamish Pavilion down Fowler Street to the corner of Russ Chandler Stadium at Ferst Drive.

The first set of cars in the parade are classic cars. Alumni bring in old classic cars which they have restored or maintained to show off to the public.

UK - London - Classic 1960 Bentley car on the Kings Road Chelsea
Maybe like this... except at GT
Photo by In Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty Images

The second set is fixed body cars. These are vehicles that have been cosmetically modified to match the theme of homecoming that year. These cars are not floats and usually have physical modifications to the actual car body which are put on display.

The final set, and the one which is most well known, are the contraptions. A contraption is a vehicle (usually a literal wreck of a car) which has been modified by students to run without their original drive trains. This means the students have to find a way to get the vehicle to move forward without using the components which transfer power from the engine to the wheels. A true engineering challenge.

Students have come up with some very creative ways to get around this problem. Some use manual power through having undergrads push a pendulum or rotate a gear drive to move the car forward. Some people will use water tanks to push a drive which transfers momentum to the tires. Some students have attached propellers to the engine to help pull the weight of the vehicle. Heck one year students created a miniature jet engine to help push their car forward with the car in neutral. This one is both fun to watch and participate in.

Georgia Tech Spring Football Game Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

Man, homecoming is one of my favorite times of the year. Seeing all your friends and family and reliving all the good times on campus. I can’t help but enjoy the feel in the air when I get to come back. I’m really looking forward to coming back again this year and watching the Jackets take it to Duke. Go Jackets!!!