Sherman Ave Professor of the Year Bracket: Final Four

Sherman Ave Professor of the Year Bracket: Final Four




Renee Engeln vs. Lane Fenrich

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Honestly, are you really surprised that Renee is here? She’s like the UCONN Women’s Basketball Team of this tournament because no matter who you are, she will find a way to beat you. She’s a dynamo that will win this tournament sight unseen. Lane Fenrich will be her toughest opponent, but in an email to Sherman Ave, Renee told us that since Mark Witte lost, “it's all gravy at this point.” That’s the kind of confidence the Harlem Globetrotters have when playing the Washington Generals.

Over the course of this bracket, Sherman Ave has spent a lot of time writing about how amazing Renee is. And yeah, she is. Renee is an amazing professor with incredible credentials who will make you fall in love with her. Renee is great, but she’s not all that. In fact, here’s a list of people Renee is not.

  • Anna Nicole Smith
  • Don Shula
  • Condoleezza Rica
  • Doctor Octopus
  • Paris Hilton
  • 2003 World Series of Poker winner Chris Moneymaker
  • Sarah Silverman
  • Rudy Giuliani
  • Gwen Stefani
  • Grimace
  • Jenny from My Life as a Teenage Robot
  • Lauryn Hill
  • Billy Zane
  • Jessica Simpson
  • Joel or Benji Madden
  • Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth
  • Lee Ronaldo of Sonic Youth
  • Susan Sontag
  • JK Simmons

Sherman Ave loves Renee, but we don’t think you should vote for her on name alone. So, when you vote today, remember who Renee is and who Renee is not.

- Clint Taurus



“The Final Four?!?!  Whatever will I wear?  I wonder if Renee will loan me that slinky black number...  No, wait: she loaned it to Smutko.  I'm hosed.”

This is what Lane Fenrich, gender studies superstar and god of the freshmen, responded when we contacted him to inform him of his advancement to the Final Four of our Professor of the Year Bracket, and it’s exactly this brand of sarcastic, devil-may-care irreverence that has gotten him so far in this competition.  Lane Fenrich has the credentials of a valedictorian with the aesthetic of a slacker bad-boy greaser that fits the “girls want him, guys wanna be him” mold perfectly, and he couldn’t care less.

‘Sherman Ave?’ thinks Fenrich as he sits atop the throne of Weinberg Arts Division champion, pulling a cigarette from the Marlboro box he has rolled into his sleeve. ‘Yeah, I guess I’ll throw those losers a bone with a few exclamation points.  Hey, and maybe I’ll take a shot at that dork Smutko in the process.  Or maybe I won’t.  There’s a reason they call me Lane “Disdain” Fenrich, after all.’

We recognize his thinly veiled sarcasm, and it only makes us yearn more for his approval so much more.  Here he goes toe-to-toe with Renee Engeln in a matchup of Weinberg titans, and should give her a run for her money, despite the fact that he won’t be wearing that slinky black number.  To be honest Fenrich could wear tie-dye cut-off overalls on top of one of those shirts that says “Sarcasm is just another free service I offer” that boys in 8th grade like, if he wanted.  It wouldn’t matter; the fact that Lane’s wearing it makes it cool.


Editor’s Note: Additionally, we feel obligated to mention that we found a Daily Northwestern feature about Fenrich (which we did not read past the first sentence and refuse to link to) begins with the line “Lane Fenrich controls time.”  Now, we’re not ones to speak to the credibility of the Daily, but we’re also not ones to risk angering the physical manifestation of a mystical time deity by voting against him.

- Walter Klondike™


Matchup Prediction: Renee wins by 15 votes

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Jeffrey Sconce vs. Alex Birdwell

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An extensive look at Jeffrey Sconce’s Twitter revealed two striking things about him.

  1. He is an incredibly insightful thinker and has a lot to offer in his discipline

These tweets are critical, but they highlight a lot of the issues in modern film studies. This is enough fodder for me to bullshit my way through conversation with RTVF majors for the rest of the college! His thoughts clearly resonated with people because look at how many retweets and favorites he got. I’d have to tweet out the location of The Fountain of Youth to get that kind of response. Well played Jeffrey. Well played.

  1. Numbers don’t mean shit to him.

Apparently “Two Essentials” is code for “As many fucking essentials as I want you fucking trash.”


When asked to comment on his opponent, Alex Birdwell, Sconce commented, "I prefer not to tussle with Engineering professors because I don't want to be killed by robots."

It is hard to say whether or not Jeffrey Sconce will defeat Birdwell in this match-up, but if his lack of commitment to the Arabic numeral system is any indication, it’s pretty fair to say that Birdwell’s got him beat in any match-up involving robots—or science—or math—or counting.

- Ladysmith Black-Tar-Heroin M'baso



You know, at this point we’ve said pretty much all that can be said about a professor that literally nobody on Sherman Ave has had before.  All the speculations and analysis thus far were honestly a pretty irresponsible thing to do.  Our last article is on the second page of the Google results for “Alex Birdwell Northwestern” and I’m not sure that’s something that Professor Birdwell wants to be associated with.  Then again, when’s the last time you ever clicked to the second page of Google search results?  Fourth grade for me.  I was researching lizards for my class project.  Did you know that geckos use van Der Waal’s forces [1] to cling to walls?  I didn’t know that when I was in fourth grade, I just think it’s cool.  Does Alex Birdwell know that about geckos?  Maybe, maybe not.  Honestly, there’s no reason for him to know since he’s a MechE professor, but hey, maybe he’s a multidimensional guy who likes to talk about cool animal facts at cocktail parties at his cousin’s house in the Florida Keys.  Again, this is all total speculation and we should probably just stop.  But, as both Florence + the Machine and Harvey Dent remind us, “the night is always darkest before the dawn.”  So here’s some more wild conjecture about the true nature of Alex Birdwell:

  • Alex Birdwell has a PhD in Mechanical Engineering, Northwestern University, 2012, an MS in Mechanical Engineering, Northwestern University, 2006, and a BS in Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Tech, 2004.
  • His research interests lie within the fields of robotics and biomechanics, specifically focusing on prosthetics and rehabilitation engineering.
  • His doctoral work investigated novel control interfaces for using electrical muscle signals (EMGs), from finger and thumb muscles residing in the forearm, to command individual digits on an artificial hand.
  • His current interests involve engineering education, curriculum development, and undergraduate student advising. He constantly strives to innovate in the classroom, re-invent a course, and reinvigorate existing classes with new course materials, updated learning objectives, and providing online content.
  • He co-manages the Lightboard studio and is interested in studying how education video content can be used to enhance student learning. It is his belief that providing online content should complement the classroom experience, but never replace it.

Just to reiterate, this is all totally unfounded guesswork at who Alex Birdwell really is.  Hopefully it helps to guide your vote.


[1] Van Der Waal’s forces, or dispersion forces, are intermolecular interactions caused by a dynamically shifting electron cloud of a molecule.  Though weak individually, a large number of these forces working in parallel can be strong enough to stick a small lizard to a wall, even when it’s slippery!

- Walter Klondike™


Matchup Prediction: Sconce wins by 35 votes

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