Students kick it up in the ’Burgh

Aside from science and the humanities, some Carnegie Mellon students are studying sneakers this semester. The Student College (StuCo), an organization of classes taught by students, debuted a new course this semester called Sneakerology 101, a three-credit course dealing with the history, culture, and design of sneakers.

The class will culminate this Wednesday with its final exam, planning a sneaker festival called “Kicksburgh,” aimed at promoting urban culture and gathering sneakers for charity.
The class was created by Elliot Curtis, a junior social and decision sciences major, and Jesse Chorng, a junior economics major. Curtis and Chorng also teach the course.

Curtis and Chorng created the class simply for their love of sneakers, or “kicks,” as they call them.

“There is so much you can learn from the culture of sneakers. [This class] really represents what CMU stands for,” Curtis said, citing such examples as pride and genuity in one’s culture.

The class has gained national attention from the media, particularly from online bloggers covering urban culture.

“This makes me want to go to CMU,” one user blogged on, an urban culture discussion forum.

Students taking the class are just as excited as the bloggers.

Hannah Pileggi, a sophomore statistics major, and Casey Taylor, a junior English major, had nothing but positive reviews.

Pileggi described it as an “entrepreneurial experience” that gave her a wealth of knowledge and a new creative outlet.

Taylor is happy that Carnegie Mellon is gaining recognition in a unique area.

“The class is able to show everyone the creative side of CMU,” Taylor said.

With 42 students, the class was moved to a larger lecture hall than initially planned. The course covers the history of sneakers, present day hip-hop fashion, and even features guest lecturers.

Taylor praised the class for being “proactive about trends” and “always up to date.”
In its activities and exams, Sneakerology 101 is anything but conventional.

The midterm exam was to design the “ideal sneaker.” One notable concept was Taylor’s line of “bearded shoes.”

“I don’t think enough people appreciate beards through shoes,” Taylor said.

For the final exam, both students and teachers are collaborating to throw a sneaker festival.

The first “Kicksburgh” will be held in Skibo Gym this Wednesday.

The festival promotes the charity organization Soles4Souls, which distributes donated shoes to those affected by disasters such as Hurricane Katrina.

There will be collection bins around campus for both new and used shoes.

Chorng and Curtis describe the festival as “a really cool event involving the entire city,” and hope to “promote urban culture in Pittsburgh.”

From 6 to 10 p.m., the event will feature local urban boutiques (including TimeBomb, SoleIISole, oneUP Skateshop, and Ulterior Motive) and local brands (including vitaminTHICK and The D.O.N. or Definition of NYCE).

There will also be live art by local DJs and painters, a trivia game, and an appearance by the campus’breakdance crew, the International FreeStylers, among other activities.

The two teachers hope that many will see the event as a great kick-off to this year’s Carnival.

In addition to working on this year’s festival, the pair is already planning for years to come.

Curtis and Chorng hope Sneakerology sticks around campus, and are actively looking for their successors.

Pileggi is just happy that she was able to “watch the birth of something that’s going to be big,” she said.

She also expressed her anticipation for the festival.

“If this is a success, it’s a huge deal. Not only for Elliott and Jesse, but for all of us students as well,” she said.

When asked if they had any last comments, Pileggi, speaking for herself and Taylor, said, “We think Elliott and Jesse should get paid.”

For those who missed out this semester, Curtis has agreed to teach the class again next spring.