Point Counterpoint – Point: Should you purchase an Engineering Leather Jacket?Mike Seliske - 2T Computer
Posted on: January 19, 2011
The Waterloo Engineering leather jacket has been around since the early 60’s, during the prime of Waterloo Engineering’s development stages. The new school needed to establish an image and traditions which would carry through to future generations of engineering graduates. Waterloo retail services claims that the leather jacket came to be a solution to identifying engineering students while hitchhiking home from school. When Waterloo was in it’s early stages, public transit was non-existent and the primary means of getting home from school was hitchhiking. The attitude in the early 60’s was similar to today where people were apprehensive about picking up strangers hitching a ride. So retail services thought that printing “Waterloo Engineering” on their backs would help identify the students as hard working professionals. After all these years the jacket still serves a similar purpose. Although no longer making it easier for students to hitch a ride home from class, the leather jacket still serves as a way to identify you as a Waterloo Engineering Student or Grad.
Queens University has some great tradition in their leather jacket and 95% of students purchase one. They are proud of what it represents and many students get involved in order to collect badges and crests which they sew onto their jackets as a sign of what they have accomplished in their university careers. Waterloo does not have the tradition that Queens has, but the purpose of the jacket is the same. Members of the faculty of engineering at the University of Waterloo work extremely hard in order to get their degree and they should be proud of the work they put in.
Everyone gets their leather jacket for a different reason but the common theme that brings everyone together is that they are an easily recognized symbol, that you are in fact a plummer . There are plenty of stories where people have been identified in various locales because of their jacket.
One story has someone yelling across the street in Ottawa, asking if the jacket wearer knew Marc Tan (the jacket model on all of the posters and A-soc VP-Finance), or an off hand comment by an older gentleman walking down the street “I have one of those”, as well as sparking conversations in airports around the world. Putting out a call for stories on Facebook yielded a lot of stories in a very short time and so one would have to wonder how many stories, business deals or friendships have been created because of the recognizable Waterloo Engineering Jacket. RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis got his start at Waterloo Engineering and wears his jacket with pride to this day. He can often be seen in the parking lot of RIM with the jacket on clearly showing off his roots.
Some people argue that wearing the jacket is a way of showing off, but is there a difference between sewing a Canadian flag on your backpack when traveling to show off that you are from Canada? This is not necessarily an act of showing off but one of pride for your school. For some, the jacket does not fit into their fashion sense and for some they are not proud of their program, but for the members of the Waterloo Engineering community that are proud of where they come from, the leather jacket is a solid symbol which effectively identifies them as a proud member of the Waterloo Engineering community and it does a pretty good job of keeping them warm in the fridgid Canadian winters.