Celebrating Campus Traditions

Students and alumni engage in Spring Carnival, service and more

campus life

As we near the end of the academic year, cherry blossoms bloom and the campus is filled with some fun and R&R before finals. Various events, semester-ending showcases and Pittsburgh engagement opportunities take place as students wrap up the academic year. In April, we celebrate the annual Spring Carnival and Reunion Weekend. This year’s carnival featured over 125 events, including amusement rides like a ferris wheel, as well as buggy races and theater performances. 

Spring Carnival is one of our oldest and most beloved campus traditions. It’s the biggest event of the year and is completely student-run by the Spring Carnival Committee - they make it happen, from logistics to entertainment and event promotion. We welcome back alumni, roll out the plaid carpet and have our Kiltie Band perform throughout the weekend. It’s the perfect way to celebrate campus traditions. 

Booth is one of the biggest showpieces of Carnival and is held on Midway in the center of campus. Student organizations build and decorate multi-story structures for the community to see and experience. More than 20 student organizations built booths based on this year's theme, Myths and Legends, including “Titanic,” “Star Trek,” “The Sandlot,” “The Chronicles of Narnia,” “The Great Wall,” and more. Midway is a frenzy of activity for several days as students go from building walls and staircase railings made of 2x4's to painting structures and paper mache decorations. It’s no surprise that the creativity of our students is on full display for all to see.  

This year, Midway also showcased virtual reality projects by the students as part of the interdisciplinary competition team CMU Hyperloop, a team that facilitates large-scale transportation and connects engineering, design, business and technology.

Buggy is another Spring Carnival tradition, said to have more coverage than a D-1 football game. Spectators from the university and greater community cheer on Carnegie Mellon student competitors in this two-day elimination-style competition, from the moment time trials start, to the final race. The races wind their way around Schenley Park and bordering streets as part of a 4,400-foot-long course. It has both uphill elements (in which the baton is the vehicle and driver pushed by runners) and downhill elements with sharp turns and speeds up to 40mph. The buggies are aerodynamic pushcarts designed and built by student organizations and have been a tradition during Spring Carnival since 1920. 

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Carnegie Mellon tradition if autonomous vehicles weren’t involved! The School of Computer Sciences also took time to show off their creative and technology skills in the Mobot races - the autonomous vehicles known as “MObile roBOTs” took on a race course of their own during Carnival weekend.

Scotch ’n’ Soda is Carnegie Mellon’s student run theater program that produces six shows each season, ranging from full-scale musicals to intimate black box plays. One of their major productions happens right during the heart of Carnival week. Five performances of “Chicago” took place over this year's Carnival weekend. Students that take part in the Scotch 'n' Soda theater club represent over 30 different majors from all colleges on campus. The organization serves as an outlet for creative work, improv comedy, sketch comedy, playwriting and directing.  

We continue to enjoy the spring semester and nice weather with events run by our Student Leadership, Involvement, and Civic Engagement (SLICE) office. Pittsburgh Connections gives students the chance to engage in outdoor recreational, environmental and cultural events around Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania. There’s opportunity to go kayaking in the North Shore neighborhood of downtown Pittsburgh or whitewater rafting at Ohiopyle, one of Pennsylvania’s largest parks. Transportation is provided and logistics are handled, students just need to sign up! 

Service Saturday connects students with local non-profits and one-time service events in the Pittsburgh community. 1000plus is a major event during the spring semester and a recognized student organization that coordinates a day of service where 1,000 members of the Carnegie Mellon community serve.

The Carnegie Mellon campus is vibrant as we conclude the academic year, frisbee weather returns to Pittsburgh, and excitement about commencement, summer vacation, interships and more continues to build!