Texas Engineering + The Longhorn Band

5 Things You Didn’t Know


Both are deep-rooted institutions of The University of Texas at Austin,

storied entities that have been around almost as long as the university itself. Both require extraordinary dedication and commitment and the use of both the creative and analytical sides of the brain, resulting in a distinct combination and a special connection. You may know them separately or together, but here are five things you may not know about the historic relationship between Texas Engineering and the Longhorn Band:

The Longhorn Band was founded by an engineer.

E.P. Schoch, UT’s first graduate of civil engineering, founded the chemical engineering department and served as its first faculty member in 1916. An accomplished violinist, he first organized the University Orchestra and then the Longhorn Band in 1900 (he even bought the first instruments from a local pawn shop).

Engineering is typically the most represented major in the band.

Year after year, students in engineering disciplines account for the most represented college or school, usually making up between 20% and 30% of the approximately 375 members. This year, nearly 20% of the Longhorn Band (68 students) are pursuing engineering degrees.

Professor and alumnus Michael Webber, left, when he served as drum major in 1993.

Renowned Texas Engineering alumni played in the Longhorn Band.

Current Cockrell School professor and sought-after energy expert Michael Webber (an aerospace engineering alumnus) served as drum major — he actually followed after who was then his girlfriend and now wife, Julia Cook, who was the band’s first female drum major. Other notable engineering alumni include former U.S. Secretary of State and ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, and NASA astronauts Alan Bean and Carl Meade.

There are several scholarships for engineering students who are members of the band.

Each totaling $2,500, there are currently five scholarships specifically for engineering students in the Longhorn Band. In 2018, mechanical engineering and Longhorn Band alumnus Rick Church made the largest planned gift ever to the band, pledging $12 million.

Christian, drum major on the field

photo credit: joel whitlock photography

The current drum major is an engineering senior.

Christian Douglas, who is double majoring in civil engineering and economics and plays the euphonium (basically a bigger trumpet), says he wanted go for a leadership position in the band to inspire younger and future members.

We talked to Christian this summer about what led him to both engineering and the Longhorn Band ↓

What inspired you to pursue engineering?

I always knew I was talented at math. When I was a kid, I remember trying to learn algebra with the college student who was working at my daycare, while everyone else was at recess.

And marching band?

I started playing the euphonium in sixth grade and continued through high school, joining my high school marching band. Learning something new each week makes marching band really fun and keeps you on your toes. By the time I decided on UT, I was dead set on joining the Longhorn Band but wasn’t sure I was good enough. Here I am, years later, serving as drum major and having the time of my life.

What are the similarities you see between engineering and band?

The way that a lot of engineers are wired to think resonates with how music is produced and portrayed — the way we have to analyze and think critically. They also both help with time management skills and carrying yourself professionally.

by Adrienne Lee