The dramaticized (but true) story of the ZOX of Mechanical Engineering at McGill University in Montreal.
~ by Dave Birch ~

Back when I was in my second year as an undergraduate, Professor Alvin Post, during one of his Design classes in that very room, had scribbled on the blackboard the simple word "ZOX" over a complicated process diagram.

Professor Alvin Post

Figuring that he would explain exactly what a "zox" was later in the lecture, we all faithfully copied it down into our notebooks. As the professor explained the diagram, it became apparent that the "ZOX" was actually a contorted "20 x"- and to this day I can still hear the suppressed laughter mixed with the sound of 200 erasers rubbing.

Since then, the word "ZOX" had come to symbolize so much about miscommunication, and about the blind faith with which we accept everything being taught. That simple word, reproduced many times over in obscure little corners of desks and tables during my years in the undergraduate mechanical engineering program at McGill, had become our battle cry.

As the years passed, all the students who were in that design class have now graduated and moved on. All that remains are the few faded "ZOX"es scratched into the desks where Stojan and I used to sit in the various lecture halls. Though I myself have moved on to the research field, I still find myself on occasion mixing with the undergraduates, and laugh whenever I hear them ask each other, "what the heck is 'zox' supposed to mean, anyway?"

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