HumTech FunTech: Inaugural Pumpkin Carving Contest

screenshot of pumpkin carving event on Zoom

Research shows that high-performing teams like HumTech are able to sustain excellence by building team connections, so we took advantage of the Friday before Halloween to spend an hour carving pumpkins and choosing a winner for 2020.

Seven of our 17 staff signed up for the October 30th event, whose rules were intentionally simple to keep it free and fun:

  • Pre-clean your pumpkin so it’s ready to carve before the event.
  • Choose a design ahead of time, or design on-the-fly; your choice!
  • Use whatever tools you wish, including the pumpkin carving set we sent to all those who signed up ahead of time.
  • Join the Zoom meeting so we can carve together.
  • You’ll have 45 minutes to carve, and then each of us votes for our top 3 to select the winning jack-o-lanterns.


First place pumpkin

After a fun 45 concentrated minutes of carving with Halloween music playing in the background, we all succeeded in finishing our designs. And the winner? Tom Garbelotti, our Instructional Technology Manager, who was the first to finish. Our Instructional Programmer, Lillian Hawasli, was second, and our newest employee, Sevan Madadian, DTA for the Humanities Admin Group, was third. You can see their pumpkins below.

Second place pumpkin
photo of third place pumpkin
Third place pumpkin
photo of Tom's scribe knife
Scribe knife

Our winning carver, Tom, agreed to share his method with us. “Having come up with a rough idea of what I wanted to carve, I used a thick pencil to free hand the rough design on the outside of the pumpkin. Only then, did I start by cutting out the open sections (such as the eyes and the mouth).  With those clear, its just a matter of patience to remove the skin and a little bit of the pumpkin flesh on the eyes and the teeth. The scribe knife (see image) works well for this: not only is it sharp enough to cut and slice the pumpkin skin, but also the bottom side is perfectly flat, making shallow removal of pumpkin material very uniform.”

Here are some takeaways from an event we all agree we will make an annual tradition.

  • Prior experience is no indicator of future success! Of the seven who carved, three were first-timers to pumpkins and carving, and two of them placed in the top three!
  • Carving real-time in a Zoom meeting did feel “together”, and it was fun to periodically look up and see others’ focus and progress.
  • Pumpkin carving takes a lot of concentration, so it was a great way to take a mental break from work and be “in the moment”.
  • The pumpkin carving kit from Amazon was really good quality for low cost, and well worth it to those who’d never had such tools before.
  • For very little and minimal planning and prep, we got a lot of enjoyment from it. A great way to get to know your colleagues in a totally work-free setting!