Skip to main content
University of Texas University of Texas Libraries

Alec and the Engineering Library

Home

Alec and the Engineering Library

History of Alec video: Engineering Traditions - UT Austin Cockrell School of Engineering (Alec starts at 1:30)

Multiple Alecs

There were at least three different manifestations of Alec housed in the library:

  • his wooden torso and hand, leftover from an Alec that was sliced up and sent off to homesick troops in WWII
  • a full-bodied, plaster version of Alec (pictured below)
  • the year's best Alec, as constructed by student groups in an annual Alec building competition

Alec and his Room (McKinney Engineering Library in ECJ: 1980-2011)

Susan Ardis, Librarian Emeritus and former Head Engineering and Science librarian, shares her memories of Alec:

Alec has been housed continuously in the McKinney Engineering Library in ECJ since 1980. His first home was an enormous glass and aluminum display case which was over 10 feet tall with a 3 foot by 3 foot aluminum incased concrete base. Interestingly the case was made by an Aggie Engineer - more on how we know this later. Alec and his case stood in front of the case holding the torso and other memorabilia from the first Alec.

In 1984 Richard McKinney endowed room in library to be called The Alec Center for Creativity. Once the room was created it seemed like a good idea to put Alec in his room. However, given the size and weight of the case this proposal was given a lot of study. After a number of consultations with Physical Plant it was decided that the best plan was to remove the base. The glass part of the case had its own base and could be used to display Alec in his room.

In January 1988, six men from Physical Plant came to the library with dollies, hydraulic jacks, pry bars and a large concrete saw. As one of them said, “ma’am you sure got one big heavy case there.” It took over 2 hours to remove the base and 2 hours to move him with the jacks to a dolly and then scoot him into his new room. Alec resides there today. Once the glass top was severed from the base we discovered to our amazement a small paper sticker that said, “[t]his case was made by an Aggie Engineer.” We all got a good laugh. One of the workmen said, “well it was overbuilt that’s for sure!”


 

 

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic License.