2007 CSAIL Olympics
March 2, 2007 - During IAP (independent activities period) each year the Stata Center's typically quiet halls echo with sounds of laughter and cheering as office chairs are raced down hallways, research abstracts are launched in garbage bins, and binder-clip parachutes sail overhead.
These seemingly random acts of mayhem are actually an organized event called the CSAIL Olympics. This year marked the fourth annual Olympics to be held in the Stata Center. The tradition dates back to the original AI lab, and has been a favorite way for students, faculty and staff members to take a break from their typically demanding schedules and have fun.
Event participants are organized into four competing teams, with a total of 113 official registrants this year. The teams compete in about 20 events throughout a two week period and earn points based on skill and participation. At the end of the two weeks the points are totaled and the winning team's captain wins gift certificates.
This year's winning team was Jose's Food Truck, captained by Zoran Dzunic and Serdar Balci.
The games also serve a somewhat higher purpose in that it's a way to highlight and preserve some of the culture unique to the lab and bring participants from different departments who previously had no reason to interact, together. Harr Chen, an organizer of the Olympics, and other Olympics organizers chose this year's theme "Keep on Trukin" to reflect what he calls a way of life at CSAIL. "Everyone in the lab knows about the food trucks parked outside and has probably eaten there more than once, some people exclusively, and it's just a fun way of showing that," Chen said.
The CSAIL Olympics is definitely not the showing of athletic prowess that the name infers, but it is a long-standing tradition of bringing unity to the lab and record of its changing culture "It's something different from the normal every day, and in the end it's a great way to get to know people in the lab and come together to have fun," Chen said.