To bee or not to bee: Is it time for Georgia Tech to introduce a Killer Buzz or a robotic one?

Mathematician Lew Lefton joined the faculty of Georgia Tech in 1999 and is now Director of Information Technology for the School of Mathematics and the College of Sciences. Lefton’s research interests are in scientific computing and applied mathematics. But he has a sideline as an improvisational comic. His business card explains it: “Lew Lefton, Mathematician/Stand Up Comic, “He’s funny and he can prove it.”

This blog entry reflects both his expertises. Many folks today received an email from Lefton with a link to an official-looking Tech survey on finding an alternative to the mascot Buzz. I already saw on Facebook where folks are taking the survey seriously despite the fact the calendar says April 1. (Click on the survey link to respond to the survey.)

In the spirit of the day, here it is. And to be clear — as newspapers have a bad record with parody pieces being taken seriously by readers — this is a joke.

From Lew Lefton

The Ramblin’ Wreck is the official mascot of Georgia Tech. However for the past four decades, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets have also been using Buzz as an additional mascot. In recent months several serious concerns have been raised about this choice. In particular…

  • Some parents and donors are concerned that the word “buzz” is too closely aligned with alcohol and drug use. This is reinforced since Buzz frequently conducts the Budweiser song at games.
  • Faculty in the biosciences are embarrassed by the fact that we have an anatomically incorrect insect for our mascot (Buzz only has four “legs”).
  • The Athletic Association is increasingly frustrated with Buzz.
    • They cannot bring a live version of the mascot onto the field at football games (Note: this was attempted in 1991 and several people were severely stung, including the coach).
    • In a series of tests, an actual bulldog was put in a room with an actual yellow jacket and the bulldog killed the yellow jacket 99 percent of the time. This is demoralizing for the football team, who would prefer a mascot that can, in real life, kill a real bulldog.
  • Due to budget cuts, the Institute is no longer able to afford the cost of trademark infringement lawsuits. (Note: we spent over $700,000 in a suit against the Salt Lake Bees).
  • Buzz is often confused with a bee, hornet, or wasp. This uncertainty and confusion makes him undesirable as a brand.

In order to address these concerns and make sure the Institute is not exposed to unnecessary risk, a Campus Mascot Task Force led by Dr. Loof Lirpa was convened to explore other possible mascots.

Please complete the following one page survey to provide your feedback. If you have any questions, you may also submit feedback through email.


–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

21 comments Add your comment

Educator for Life

April 1st, 2013
9:48 am

Devil's Advocate

April 1st, 2013
9:54 am

Glad they can poke fun at Bulldog dominance in football.


April 1st, 2013
9:55 am

They could hve a live nuclear bomb as a mascot, and UGA would still dominate on the gridiron………

Sherry Huiner

April 1st, 2013
10:43 am

I see that the Campus Mascot Task Force is led by Dr. Loof Lirpa. Is Dr. Lirpa related in any way to the Anne Loof, Swedish Minister for Enterprise
Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications? Also, is Dr. Ahn Woon the co-chair or vice chair of the task force? Inquiring Trekkers want to know.


April 1st, 2013
10:52 am

Who Cares!!!

Private Citizen

April 1st, 2013
10:59 am

The should start a world class football (called “soccer” in some places in the United States) league and outclass UGA for eons, quickly becoming a hundred years ahead of them. This would place “Tech” way ahead in standing with “world class” students.

Yes, right after we get universal health care and a simplified IRS tax code.

My buddy emailed me that what the turret blew up on a US ship, the had the new turret made in China. American Football is so “over” with these expensive programs and obscene coach salaries. GaTech should set an example of future thinking / leadership. Great accomplishment does not compete, it sets the example.

Private Citizen

April 1st, 2013
11:15 am

Where is the comment box and send button for the survey?

Maureen Downey

April 1st, 2013
11:17 am

@Private, Click on the link and respond there.

Private Citizen

April 1st, 2013
11:43 am

Okay, got it now. Thank you.

Private Citizen

April 1st, 2013
11:52 am

I OBJECT. When the survey is done, it says, “Thank you for your feedback. If a new mascot is selected as a result of this process, you will receive an invitation to Buzz’s retirement ceremony sponsored by Terminix.”

So Georgia Tech has let a bug extermination company into their mascot concept / policy and now they are selling me out for advertising for “Terminix” which by the way I have heard has an absolutely terrible reputation as being all about taking money from people like they’re trying to be a national franchise like Avis rent-a-car or something. I OBJECT. Has Georgia Tech lost it’s mind and some little office there sells out the school so easily? I’m getting on the phone right now.

Rich Tirrell

April 1st, 2013
11:52 am

a giant killer robot would be pretty sweet- you could even keep him named buzz…

Private Citizen

April 1st, 2013
11:56 am

Has anyone happened to notice the date today?

Private Citizen

April 1st, 2013
12:05 pm

On this day in 2005, Georgia Tech posted the intitiative “New software automates the teaching of calculus,” in 2007, “Please collect tree pollen for research.” in 2009, “Georgia Tech Code of Ethics – Automatic Completion.”

For example,

Private Citizen

April 1st, 2013
12:07 pm


April 1st, 2013
12:41 pm

@ Private Citizen, 11:56 am. Spell “Loof Lirpa” backwards.

Tech Girl and proud of it (Class of 79)

April 1st, 2013
1:08 pm

I sincerely miss Bullwinkle (not to mention various editions of “TechReeks”). Glad to know the spirit is still alive – even in this PC world.

Private Citizen

April 1st, 2013
1:21 pm

OriginalProf, Thank you. I missed that. The prank from Princeton got me pretty, as if “Wel, is there not enough difficulty already? Maybe a one in a thousand chance?” -And then the door closed on everyone. Anyway, I got a good chuckle from it. There is not a day that goes by that I do not thank my stars that I completed a BA degree, compared with the conditions today – and it took forever, too. And the thing is, the quality of schools and departments changes over time. I was really fortunate in that I think I attended during “the good years” for this one department. Shortly after, one of my main professors got-the-helleroo on and moved to a different school.

PS I wish there was a way to upgrade the Georgia government universities. About the only way I can think of to improve things is through a bunch of new private universities. So many parts of this state, there is just nothing except these state schools, and the latest thing from them is to charge $900. for a friggin’ online course from a web browers, probably taught by a politically connected leper from the leper colony. Yes, I have nothing but contempt for these folk, and I do not think they are delivering good value. The various state universities are each little redneck country clubs, processing paying students through there like livestock on the farm.


April 1st, 2013
1:40 pm

Why is it necessary that Buzz kill a bulldog? Thanks to decades of inbreeding, they seem to have no trouble dying on their own.

Private Citizen

April 1st, 2013
2:03 pm

Pride and Joy

April 1st, 2013
8:12 pm

How about a Buzz lite?

Pete Ludovice

April 4th, 2013
8:36 am

Actually Lew is part of significant humor activities at Georgia Tech. He is helping us prove that nerds can be funny, and not just funny looking. See