The second annual Free Stuff Awards

by Matthew M. Lug - Newspeak Staff

Let me start by saying that I almost never use the words "heck" or "dang." Newspeak found the original words in my last article to be too harsh and offensive, so they put those silly words in there instead. A couple other sections were edited for similar reasons. There were also at least two small errors in the article. The title should have read "Predictions for the new school year" instead of "Predictions for the new school." Several readers were confused by what appeared to be a reference to a new school. There is no new WPI, it's just the same old place with the usual occasional modifications. Also, at the bottom of the first column, the line "zine itself to farce random individuals to" should have been "zine itself to force random individuals to." I don't know how force became a farce, but it shouldn't have. Hmm... What else... Did anyone else think that the crossword puzzle in that week's issue was just way too easy?

Ok, on to the real reason you're reading this. Apparently Newspeak received some positive comments about my free stuff awards article last year (in other words someone read it (it was hard to miss since it took up the entire page) and didn't hate it), so Newspeak asked me if I was planning on doing it again this year. I've been running a bit low on article ideas lately, so of course I would do a repeat of something I did before, especially if it was something that someone actually read. If you missed it for some reason, you should first apologize profusely for not reading one of my articles (I don't care if you weren't here, that's no excuse). The best apologies usually include money of some kind (the more the better). Next, you can load up your favorite web browser and go to where you can find all of my articles in their original, un-Newspeaked form (yes, there were some mistakes in last year's free stuff awards article). There's also some other stuff there, but use caution when viewing it, I am not responsible for any injuries sustained during visits to my web site. While you're there, you might as well look at the rest of my web site, since you know you really have nothing better to do.

I'm getting there, I'm getting there... Here's some background behind these awards. Every fall WPI has a career fair. Usually this means that parking on campus is impossible to find, and lots of seniors desperately seeking employment dress up in suits in an effort to impress company representatives who are dressed in t-shirts and jeans. The companies also try to impress the students, but their approach is a bit more reasonable. They bring lots of stuff with them to give away to anyone who is within reach. The more they give away, the less they have to carry out. So what was it like this year? How should I know, the career fair is still two days away. I'll get back to you once it's over.

Ok, the career fair has come and gone, and my arms hurt from carrying all that free stuff. Hey, that stuff is heavy, and it's hard work making all those trips around gathering it. Anyway, this year saw a decrease in mouse pads, an increase in coffee mugs, the usual number of pens, pencils, highlighters, and flashlights, a wide variety of uniquely shaped stress reliever balls (I think the Ascend squishy dice are loaded; I keep rolling sevens or doubles), and an overall increase in creativity. Many companies have realized that students have a special kind of respect for anything that is free. Some still don't get it though (see the worst overall category). There are several new categories this year, and a few categories that didn't have enough competition to call for their inclusion this time. The competition was fierce, but I managed to determine the winners somehow (note to companies: a monetary donation or generous job offer usually helps make the judging process go faster). Ok, ok, I know you're probably not even paying attention to this anymore, so here they are...

The Awards

Best Pencil
Winner: National Instruments, for their autopoint pencils.
Runner Up: Teradyne, for their mechanical pencils.

Best Pen
Winner: Rizzo Associates, Inc., for their green, gold-trimmed, Cross-type pens.
Runner Up: Sikorsky Aircraft, for their black, gold-trimmed pens.

Best Highlighter
Winner: United Technologies, for their three highlighter set inside a triangular case, which won this award last year.
Runner Up: Air Products, for their flat triangular triple highlighter, which is of the same design as the Mitre highlighter that was the runner up in this category last year.

Best Sticky Note Pad
Winner: PriceWaterhouse Coopers, for their large beige note pads.
Runners Up: Raytheon and Lucent Technologies, for their large white note pads.

Best Flashlight
Winner: Kidde Fenwal, for their larger flashlights that run on two AA batteries.
Runner Up: Air Products, for their smaller disposable flashlights.

Best Key Chain
Winner: Lucent Technologies, for their battery powered LED key chains.
Runner Up: Natural Microsystems, for their cell phone key chains that have a pen for an antenna.

Best Mousepad
Winner: Nexion, for their large round mousepads.
Runner Up: Unilever, for their smaller, thin, round mousepads.

Best Flying Object
Winner: Clarion and Pratt & Whitney, for their balsa planes.
Runners Up: Microstrategy and BDS, for their roomerangs.

Best Squishy, Stress-Reliever-Type Object
Winner: Bay Networks, for their squishy brains.
Runner Up: Aspect, for their squishy footballs.

Best Electronic Device
Winner: Becton Dickinson, for their digital thermometers.
Runner Up: Kidde Fenwal, for their calculators.

Best Coffee Mug
Winner: Fidelity Investments, for their large insulated coffee mugs, some of which came complete with coffee.
Runner Up: Travelers Insurance, for their smaller insulated coffee mugs.

Best Beverage Container (other than coffee mugs)
Winner: Tracer, for their glass pint glasses.
Runner Up: Lockheed Martin, for their large plastic cups with glitter and stuff floating around inside the lining. Unfortunately the glitter is also on the outside, so be careful if you shake them up.

Best Candy
Winner: CHA and MA Olson Co. Inc., for their nice assortments of various candy.
Runners Up: Fairchild Semiconductor, for their sugar and chocolate coated mints, and DeLorme, for their little chocolate globes.

Best Bag
Winner: Mitre, for their canvas bags.
Runner Up: Unilever, for their very large plastic bags.

Best T-shirt
Winner: Tracer, for their black t-shirts. I had to give them a resume for the shirt, but at least they were nice about it.
Runner Up: DataViz, for their t-shirt that had an interesting depiction of a sumo wrestler on a race horse. They freely gave the shirt to me when I told them what I was doing, and that I used their products.

Most Useful
Winner: Boston Scientific, for their mini first aid kits.
Runner Up: GE, for their sewing kits.

Most Useless
Winner: Boston Scientific, for their hard styrofoam footballs.
Runner Up: Data General, for their computer clip things.

Most Original
Winner: Texas Instruments, for their parachute guys, and Boston Scientific, for their Weebeans Augusta Lobster.
Runners Up: Millipore, for their blinking lights, and IDX, for their Tangle things.

Best Stuff That Clearly Wasn't Free
Winner: Becton Dickinson, for all their interesting stuff that wasn't free, while their thermometers were marked "please take one."

Best Stuff That Should Have Been Free
Winner: Stanley, for all the tools they had scattered over their table.

Best Office Supply Assortment
Winner: Air Products, for their assortment of pens, erasers, highlighters, flashlights, sticky note pads, measurement conversion cards, and plastic bags.

Most Original Assortment
Winner: Texas Instruments, for their assortment of parachute guys, Texas-shaped stress relievers, pens, and pencils.

Best Overall
Winner: Raytheon. They had a good variety of unique items.
Runner Up: Lucent Technologies. They had another good assortment, and their booth was also nearby when I needed another bag to carry all my stuff.

Most Disappointing
Winner: Lockheed Martin. They had a great assortment last year, but they only had glittery cups this year.

Worst Overall
Winner: Microsoft, for the second year in a row (I have nothing against the company in general, really). They still demanded a resume for their free whatever-it-was. From what the representative said, it seemed like they didn't want to give their products to just anyone (Biology majors were specifically mentioned). I guess a company like Microsoft can't afford to give stuff away without getting something in return. For discriminating against all those wonderful Bio people out there, Microsoft wins its second straight worst overall award.

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