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Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Donovan Boyer, a first-year mechanical engineering student, talks to MTU Fencing Club Vice President Aerith Cruz on K-Day Friday.

CHASSELL — After a fragmented experience last year, Michigan Technological University’s K-Day was back at Centennial Park in Chassell Township to let students explore potential campus organizations.

About 197 groups participated in the 70th annual event, said Rochelle Spencer, assistant director of student leadership and engagement. Due to COVID concerns, last year’s event was split into seven mini-sessions on campus with 20 to 25 groups at a time.

“Everyone is very excited and counting down to K-Day so they can all be here,” she said. “Everyone seems to be having a lot of fun. The food was very good. We actually got through most things early on, which hasn’t happened with K-Day in a long time.”

About 3,500 to 4,000 students come to the annual event, Spencer said. It helps students explore their interests and connect with other people they share.

“They find their organization here, usually in their first or second year, and then they stay with Michigan Tech for the rest of the time,” she said. “And that helps to bring our students back every year.”

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Drew Pienta, deputy director of Michigan Technological University Robotics Systems Enterprise, poses with the team robot during K-Day Friday.

Groups attracted students with striking maneuvers such as paintball guns, skateboarding or computer games.

The MTU Fencing Club had swords on display for a stream of interested students. The club is for those with fencing experience as well as those who want to learn it, said treasurer Weston Stroming.

“It’s a bit difficult to participate in competitions because it’s not very common here,” he said. “So it’s just kind of a place where people can meet and learn and get to know each other through screens.”

About five to seven members come to each meeting, Stroming said. The ranks may swell after K-Day. Stroming said he spoke to five to 10 people with screen experience and 80 people signed up to get more information.

“I’m looking forward to this year, especially if even a quarter of them show up,” he said.

MTU’s Robotic Systems Enterprise team dispatched a robot to the ground in front of its booth, which also houses its brightly colored autonomous vehicle. The club has more than 50 members and competes in five areas, said assistant director Drew Pienta.

Freshman physics major Jack Holtgren signed up for an outdoor club and table tennis club.

“I think it’s a great way for students to find something they’re passionate about, and then connect with other people who are passionate about the same thing,” he said.

The sorority and free stuff were a draw for Michele Powell, a sophomore in ecology and wildlife conservation. She joined a craft club and was also interested in women’s clubs in the fields of natural resources, sustainability and aquariums.

“It’s nice to see how many people are actually at Tech, because last year it seemed a lot less with everyone in their room,” she said. “It’s nice to have an event where people can come and have fun.”

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