The Secret Lives of Wisconsin Engineer Members

For over a century, the Wisconsin Engineer Magazine has told the stories of the College of Engineering and its students. Today, we’re telling the stories of the people who make it all possible.

With winter break reaching its end and spring semester looming, the members of Wisconsin Engineer are preparing for their return to college life. Naturally, few look forward to the onslaught of tests and assignments. However, college life entails far more than schoolwork. Like most college students, the members of the magazine indulge themselves in hobbies during their scarce free time that are diverse and creative.

For co-Writing Head Carmella Whittaker, the ideal hobby is artistry. She can often be found sitting in a corner hunched over a laptop, doodling everything from comics to portraits. Her artistic pursuits also extend to the performing arts, and more recently, sewing.

Writing Head Carmella Whittaker with her competition-winning paintings.

“In high school, especially, I was known as the art kid,” recalls Carmella. 

Calling herself merely “the art kid” is an understatement; Carmella’s art skills won her regional shows and a spot in the Minnesota State High School League 2023 Visual Arts State Festival. She’s also had the chance to paint a portion of her hometown’s 150th anniversary mural.

Laila Smith, co-Editor in Chief, prefers more abstract approaches to her free time. A former Graphic Design Head, Laila is as fond of art as Carmella, but she brings her ideas to life through different mediums. Her recent works include a series of collages where she replaced the heads of cutout subjects with inanimate objects, resulting in oddities such as businessmen with lipstick tube heads. Her work demonstrates a unique and innovative artistic eye.

An abstract collage made by Editor-in-Chief Laila Smith.

Laila also enjoys doodling, painting, and “creating things, in general.” These creative tendencies generate the occasional internet firestorm. She inadvertently started one online sensation after her school district posted a drawing she made of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Aside from these art forms, Laila enjoys more mainstream hobbies such as building LEGO sets and playing Minecraft.

Another co-Writing Head, Isabelle Egizio enjoys baking as her hobby of choice. Despite an ambitious chemical engineering workload, few days go by where she does not cook. Through a mixture of baking classes, practice with family members, and sheer determination, she has mastered confections ranging from French macarons to coffee cakes.

Leveraging this skill, Isabelle has sold her baked goods for profit. One of her cakes – four layers high and covered in macarons – fetched a price of $300. It took twelve hours to make. 

 A cake masterfully baked and decorated by Writing Head Isabelle Egizio.

In her kitchen, the smell of warm pastries often mixes with a musical cacophony – Isabelle’s yearly listening time on Spotify ranks among the highest half-percent of all users.

As for me, humble writer (and final co-Writing Head) Alexander Kiner, I find my time is best spent walking and exploring. I have hiked through the wilds of Utah, across the Channel Islands of California, and nearly thirty miles around the lakes of Madison. I always enjoy the new discoveries I make on the way. I have found twenty-foot-tall plastic skeletons, an assortment of wildlife, and many Subway and Qdoba restaurants in odd locations. I’m also quite fond of rock climbing, a hobby I started last September.

The author and one of his discoveries.

More than just names on a list of credits, the people behind the magazine enjoy a striking diversity of activities. At the core of these hobbies are creativity, curiosity, and dedication – the same traits that have kept the magazine alive for thirteen decades and that will continue to sustain it for decades more.

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