Imperial's centenary celebrations finally got off to their official start today, with a series of events in various locations across the College at lunchtime. The new centenary website has also been launched, with alumni invited to submit stories from their time at the college.
Both the Union and College celebrated with centenary cakes cut by the Rector and Deputy Rector. The Deputy Rector gave a brief speech to students assembled in Beit Quad, telling them that they "would shape the next hundred years".
As he cut the cake hundreds of blue balloons were released for the centenary balloon race - given that they were seen floating in the air for nearly 10 minutes after the initial release it seems unlikely any records will be broken this time round, but the competition should be close!
Student activities were well represented at the events, with a number of societies on the Queen's Lawn and the RCSU conducting Queen's Tower tours. ICU's Big Band entertained the crowds queuing for food and drink in Beit Quad, while IC Radio provided music (or "noise", depending on your tastes) for those queueing for food and tours in and around Sherfield.
The upcoming ArtsFest was well advertised in Beit Quad, with the union putting on a good show of the diversity of its activities. stoic tv could be spotted out and about, so expect some footage from them in the coming week.
The focus of the College celebration was a cake-cutting exercise in the Tanaka foyer, with projectors on the pillars showing the current progress towards the target of £1.5m in donations for the Student Opportunities Fund. The projection also lists current contributors, with the total so far nearing £1m.
Members of College staff could be seen in period dress, while the Rector donned a centenary t-shirt. Paddy Jackman, Director of Commercial Services, spent most of the day in full Edwardian dress, complete with stick-on sideburns.
In the evening the Rector gave a lecture on the history of the college, highlighting notable achievements and alumni, followed by a discussion of the future. He set out a vision for the charter of the college in 2057:
"Imperial College is a leader in the application of science and medicine to the solution of major problems facing society. Imperial's people are at the forefront of scientific discovery and innovation and are partners of choice for governments, commerce and industry across the world."
Notably missing, of course, is the word "engineering".
The lecture was well received by staff and students, but included the revelation that one of the original foundation stones laid by Edward VII was lost or destroyed during the construction of Tanaka. Much attention was also paid to the majestic buildings which historically stood on the site of the College.
The full lecture will be available on the centenary website.
Centenary events will be taking place all the year, with the union organising a massive Centenary Ball on 16th June, for which tickets are now on sale.