UW Engineering grads outdo themselves in competition

Mike Garner photo New UW petroleum engineering graduate Mike Gardner, of Vernal, Utah, shows his elaborately decorated mortar board featuring a moving pumpjack. He took first place in the ‘Cowboy Caps’ competition.

Two new graduates

from the College of Engineering and Applied

Science drew upon their fields of

study – including big doses of ingenuity

and creativity – to capture top honors in

the University of Wyoming’s first mortar

board decoration competition.

Called “Cowboy Caps,” the competition

was conducted in conjunction with

UW’s spring 2020 virtual commencement

ceremony as a way to connect the

new class of graduates and celebrate their

achievements from a distance amid the

COVID-19 pandemic.

Mike Gardner, of Vernal, Utah, who

received a bachelor’s degree in petroleum

engineering, won first place with an elaborate,

three-dimensional scene featuring a

moving pumpjack. He receives a $250 gift

card to the University Store.

“I participated in Cowboy Caps since

we weren’t having a ceremony, and it

seemed like a great way to end my college

career and to share with my family

and friends,” Gardner says. “I built the

pumpjack a couple of days beforehand because

I love the oil and gas industry and

decided it would look great on that cap. I

went to the dollar store and picked out as

much stuff as I could that I could relate

to Wyoming and the university, because I

love both places.”

Kristen Newbury, of Yuma, Colo., who

received a bachelor’s degree in electrical

engineering, took second place and won a

$100 gift card to the University Store. She

stayed true to her major by spelling out

“2020” in the binary computer numeral

system, accompanied by a circuit board.

“I knew what I wanted my cap to look

like from the beginning of my senior year.

I didn’t get to decorate my cap for my high

school graduation, so I was super excited,”

Newbury says. “When I finished with the

lights and the circuit drawing, it exceeded

all of my expectations, and I had to enter

it in the competition so more people could

see it.”

Cowboy Caps, conducted via UW’s social

media channels, attracted 57 entries

from graduates around the country. Winners

were selected by a panel of judges in

UW Institutional Marketing based on categories

including creativity, such as unique

use of materials and eye-catching design;

school spirit, including use of UW’s colors

and the bucking horse and rider logo; and


“We were amazed by the response and

the quality of the entries,” says Mindy

Peep, Institutional Marketing’s associate

director of digital and content strategy.

“Based upon the creativity and ingenuity

these new graduates showed with their

UW Engineering grads outdo themselves in competition

incredible creations, it’s clear that the

world has just received an impressive crop

of UW Cowboys.”

Thousands of new graduates and

others viewed last week’s virtual commencement

ceremony, which featured

UW head football Coach Craig Bohl as the

keynote speaker.


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