Tech Traditions

Almost every university has traditions, but none come close to the rich, diverse and unique traditions Tech has — many of which have existed since the early 1900s, uniting students from all generations.

Many students at Tech take these traditions seriously, and we here at the Technique recognize the importance of continuing them and have highlighted some of our favorites.


Established in 1908, ANAK serves as Tech’s only official secret society. While only members of the society know what occurs in the meetings, they have historically helped create many organizations on campus, including the Technique and the Student Government Association, as well as protesting against unwelcome changes to campus.

Each year, ANAK “taps” a select amount of student from the junior and senior classes to be in the society. Membership remains a secret until graduation when members’ names are published in the last issue of the Technique.


In the fall of 1911, the first annual Cake Race was held as a way to recruit students for Tech’s cross country and track teams. A few years later, some faculty members’ wives baked cakes for the winners of the race, giving the race its name. Starting in 1935, the Cake Race became a part of the Homecoming events, and freshmen were required to run.

By 1954, the freshman male winner received both his cake and a kiss from the Homecoming Queen.

Today, the Cake Race begins before sunrise on the morning of the Homecoming game. While freshmen are no longer required to race, it is highly encouraged!


RAT Caps were established by ANAK in 1915 and stands for “Recruit at Tech” or “Recently Acquired Techie.” Under the front bill, students write their name, major, hometown and expected graduation year. The sides are filled with scores from the football season from their freshman year. On the back, the words “To HELL with georgia” are written as punctuated for emphasis.

Freshmen were once required to wear the caps every day until Tech beat UGA during the rival football game, or, if Tech lost, until the end of the year. Freshmen who were found without their caps would be hazed. Obviously, this tradition is no longer enforced.


It’s hard to think of someone more accomplished than George P. Burdell.

A Tech alumnus, he has served in almost every war since World War II, served on the board of directors of MAD Magazine, is a varsity letterman in basketball at Tech and was almost Time’s Person of the Year in 2001. On top of all of this, he has received every degree the Georgia Tech offers!

If that sounds too good to be true … it is.

George Burdell is a fictitious character, created in 1927 by William Smith, who was sent two enrollment forms from Tech. Smith would do Burdell’s homework, tests and any other school assignments, and in 1930, Burdell actually “graduated” with a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering!

SIDEWAYS THE DOG Found severely injured near campus in 1945, Sideways was a white and black terrier. Her injuries forced her to develop a unique sideways walk, thus giving her the distinctive name.
She instantly became a campus celebrity, attending classes, sleeping in dorms and marching with the drill teams.

Unfortunately, she died in 1947 from mysterious causes, which some speculate to be rat poison from Brittain Dining Hall.

She is buried near Tech Tower with a headstone rotated 90 degrees, so it is also “sideways.” During finals week, students leave pennies on her grave for good luck on their exams.


By now, you have probably seen Tech Tower.
One of the most historic buildings on campus and once the tallest building in Atlanta, it is adorned with the glowing letters “TECH” on all four sides of the tower.

The tradition of “stealing the T” began in 1969 when a group of students stole the east-facing “T.”

Since then, it has been stolen several times and has always been returned.

Today, the administration has measures put in place to prevent this from occurring again, including pressure-sensitive alarms since it is considered criminal activity.

However, this has not stopped students from removing the “T” from other buildings over the years.


Perhaps the most “Tech” tradition, the Mini 500 is a tricycle race held during Homecoming weekend. Started in 1969, teams ride laps around Peters Parking Deck.

Each team has seven members, including riders and a pit crew, and must build their own tricycle to compete in the race.

Several clubs exist with the sole purpose of winning this competition.

It is, without a doubt, one of the most entertaining college traditions and is a testament to a Tech student’s ability to overcome obstacles.