To try to set a Guinness world record, engineering students crouched as they laid down pencil after pencil along the edge of a sidewalk near Plaza of the Americas on Friday.
About five UF students and a handful of passers-by set down 1,440 yellow No. 2 pencils over the course of an hour to set the record for the longest line of pencils in succession, said Srajat Rastogi, a UF aerospace engineering freshman. The pencils were laid down tip-to-tip along the walkway in between Griffin-Floyd Hall and Plaza of the Americas as part of Engineers’ Week.
The engineering students wanted to set a record, Rastogi said. Their original idea was to do the world’s longest Conga line, but Guinness rejected that idea. So instead, they came up with the idea of lining up pencils. This was the first official attempt to create the record, but the students had to lay down at least 1,000 pencils for Guinness to consider it, the 18-year-old said.
“Engineers have to work together,” Rastogi, the E-Week director for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, said. “Teamwork is a part of this event. It’s also about solving problems as they occur.”
After the pencils were laid down in a curve that looped back and forth, Bon Dewitt, a UF associate professor and director of geomatics, inspected the project. Dewitt served as a licensed surveyor to measure the line of pencils.
Dewitt used a surveying instrument called a total station to measure the line that came to 255.042 meters, he said. Several people, including professors at the college, were present to act as witnesses.
“It’s definitely one of the more interesting things I’ve been asked to survey,” Dewitt said.
Rastogi said the world record was definitely set, but paperwork has to be sent to Guinness and approved in order for it to be official.
Robyn Natherson, a UF mechanical engineering sophomore who helped lay down the pencils, said the pencils would be donated to a Gainesville public school, but the specific school had not been decided.
“The pencils represent the academics and creativity of engineering,” 20-year-old Natherson said.
The event was hosted by UF’s American Society of Mechanical Engineers and American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, said Susanna van de Graaf, the vice president of programs for Benton Engineering Council. The council organizes Engineering Week.
Van de Graaf, a 19-year-old UF civil engineering sophomore, said E-Week is a national event held every year in February. This was UF’s 73rd year participating.
“E-Week is supposed to bring the college together,” van de Graaf said. “A lot of times, everyone stays in their own major or doesn’t recognize how large of an impact engineers make.”