All Work and Some Play

Author: Linda Thomas Terhune
Event Date: April 14, 2011
Solo guitar acts, a Metallica cover, the fancy footwork of Purdue’s nationally ranked Indian Raas dance troupe. This was “Engineering’s Got Talent,” a chance before the end of the spring semester for students, faculty and staff to cut loose and put creativity on display.

Top prize went to four undergraduates bearing light sabers who sang a tribute to John Williams with extraterrestrial sound effects, humor and polish:

Purdue Glee Club

  • Kiss a wookie
  • Kick a droid
  • Fly the Falcon through an asteroid
  • Till the princess is annoyed …

The three engineers along with a math outrider are members of the Purdue Varsity Glee Club. They attend daily rehearsals and perform with the group about 50 times a year, including international destinations.

“Glee Club is a stress reliever,” says Peter Carroll, a chemical engineering student who also finds a creative outlet with Purdue’s Night Train Swing Dance Club. “In classes, you have to do things a certain way. But if you want to be yourself, be unique, you can go off and sing about ‘Star Wars’ or you can dance.”

For the eight Purdue Raas dancers who took the stage, the show was a chance to share a bit of their native Indian culture and have fun. “Get ready to move your feet,” they warned as they launched into a highly charged and tightly choreographed routine set to pumping Bollywood music.

Purdue’s Indian Raas Dance Troupe

The group, which was formed at Purdue in 2008, has won several national competitions. It includes members from across the College of Engineering and the University, among them graduating biomedical engineering senior Apoorva Kalasuramath, who this fall entered Georgia Tech’s doctoral program in nanomaterials and nanomedicine.

“We dance to keep our culture alive and it’s good cardio,” she said. “People are usually surprised when they see us dance.”

Mike Harris, associate dean for undergraduate education and show emcee, joined in the fun, at one point singing out his thanks to the participants. “Wow!” he said as the show concluded. “Who knew engineers had so many hidden talents?”