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54th Annual Writing Contest for Illinois Tech Undergraduates

2019 Writing Contest

Hosted annually by the Department of Humanities, the Writing Contest contest showcases the writing talents of Illinois Tech undergraduate students from across the university.

2019 Writing Contest Details

All full-time Illinois Tech undergraduate students are invited to enter the 54th Annual Writing Contest. Full-time status is defined as being enrolled in at least 12 credit-hours in the current (Spring 2019) semester.

Contest Rules

  • Entries may include fiction, poetry, plays, nonfiction (such as essays, reviews, and technical or scientific papers), and essays by freshman. Nonfiction (including essays by freshman) should be readable by an educated person with no special training in the subject of the essay.
  • All entries must include an entry form as a cover sheet attached to each entry. Forms are available in 218 Siegel Hall, or you can download one here.
  • All entries must be submitted in duplicate. One should be typed, double-spaced, on 8.5" x 11" paper. Do not put your name on the paper copy itself or any of its pages. Deliver paper submissions to Greg Pulliam in the Department of Humanities, 218 Siegel Hall. The second copy should be submitted as an MS Word .DOC or .DOCX file to The document should be saved in one of the following formas: Lastname.Nonfiction.doc, Lastname.Poetry.doc, Lastname.Fiction.doc, or Lastname.Freshman.doc, depending on the category to which it will be entered.
  • You may enter several categories, and you may submit more than one entry in a category. Limit of one prize per category to any one student.
  • You are encouraged to submit work that has been the subject of a class assignment, but please send a clean copy, free of any comments, marks, or grades.
  • Entries will not be returned, so keep a copy for your records.
  • All submitted short stories and plays will be considered for the Edwin H. Lewis Prize for Fiction. Submissions must be limited to no more than 25 double-spaced pages.
  • All submitted poems or groups of poems will be considered for the Mollie Cohen Poetry Prize, which seeks to honor the effort to master the art of poetry rather than the exhibition of emotions. You may submit as many poems you wish; however, multiple poems by the same student will be judged as a single entry.
  • All submitted nonfiction will be considered for the Edwin H. Lewis Prize for Nonfiction.
  • All submitted freshman essays will be considered for the Freshman Essay Prize. Freshman is defined as any student who is in their first year of full-time college enrollment in Spring 2019.
  • Authors retain all rights to their works' however, the authors grant Illinois Institute of Technology, the Department of Humanities, and TechNews the rights to publish their works for one calendar year, from April 1, 2019–April 1, 2020.

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS: Thursday, february 28, 2019, 5:00 p.m.

For more information, please contact

Winners will be announced on Tuesday, March 26, 2019 on the Lewis College of Human Sciences website. Please do not call the Department of Humanities to inquire whether you have won.

A luncheon for all entrants and an awards ceremony will be held at a later date. Details on the luncheon will be announced soon.

Download the Writing Contest Application


Prizes *FirstSecondThird
Edwin H. Lewis Prize for Fiction $300 $200 $100
Edwin H. Lewis Prize for Nonfiction $300 $200 $100
Henry and Myrna Knepler Freshman Essay Prize $300 $200 $100
Mollie Cohen Prize for Poetry $300 $200 $100

Prizes will be awarded as PNC Bank gift cards, which may be used anywhere VISA is accepted.

2019 Writing Contest Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the 54th Annual Illinois Tech Writing Contest! 2019's students represent the Armour College of Engineering, College of Architecture, College of Science, Lewis College of Human Sciences, and the School of Applied Technology. 

Edwin H. Lewis Prize for Nonfiction

1st: Amna Bhatti (Digital Humanities, 4th year), "Feigning Innocence: The Racist History of Raggedy Ann”

2nd: Hannah Snyderburn (Aerospace Engineering, 1st year), “You Should Act On This Earth As If It Were Heaven”

3rd: Samantha Blanchard (Mechanical Engineering, 1st year), “Closure: With Reference to the Works of Camus and Vonnegut”

Edwin H. Lewis Prize for Fiction

1st: Brianna McKenna (Biomedical Engineering, 4th year), “Contributions to Society”

2nd: Cristian Pintor (School of Applied Technology, 4th year), "Adrian by the Shore"

3rd: Dongboum Shin (Computer Engineering, Visiting), “A Travel”

The prizes for fiction and non-fiction are named for Edwin H. Lewis, an English professor at the Lewis Institute, one of the forerunners of Illinois Tech, from 1895 to 1936. Among other classes, Professor Lewis taught Shakespeare and apparently looked somewhat like him too. It is said that students would come to campus just for his lectures, often without even being enrolled.

Mollie Cohen Prize for Poetry

1st: Katherine Seaver (Architecture, 5th year), “Living Room”

2nd: Ashley Tewari (Civil Engineering, 1st year), “A Daughter’s Dilemma”

3rd: Winifred Guerra (Psychological Science, 1st year), “Words that Burn”

The poetry prize was established in 1965 by Mollie S. Cohen, a retiring Illinois Tech English professor. Professor Cohen was a native Chicagoan and attended Lewis Institute before doing graduate work at the University of Chicago and at the Sorbonne in Paris. During her time as a professor at Illinois Tech, she worked closely with women students and international students.

Henry and Myrna Knepler Freshman Essay Prize

1st: Andrew Cordell (Applied Physics, 1st year), “The Point of Pointland - What Flatland Really Means”

2nd: Samuel Howe (Psychological Science, 1st year), “Eating Disorders”

3rd: Justin Schmitz (Computer Science, 1st year), "Incentivizing Donations: Using Human Nature to Encourage Giving"

The prize for freshman essays was renamed in 2015 to honor the late Henry Knepler’s 40 years at Illinois Tech as Professor of English and chair of the Department of Humanities. The prize was established from gifts made in Knepler’s memory by friends and his wife Myrna at the time of his passing in 1999. Myrna is an alumna of Illinois Tech, receiving her doctorate in Linguistics, and devoted her career to English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction.

**The Department of Humanities would like to thank everyone for participating in the 54th Annual Writing Contest.**