The grad who never existed

Will S.' Random Weirdness Blog


George P. Burdell was a student enrolled at Georgia Tech in 1927. He wasn’t real, but rather, the result of a practical joke carried out by an actual student, William Edgar Smith. When Smith was accepted, he was accidentally sent two registration forms instead of one. Spotting an opportunity to seize the day, he filled out both forms—one for himself and one for a creature of his imagination who went by the name of George P. Burdell. The name was taken from the president (and former UGA football captain) of the Richmond Academy of Augusta, Ga.—George P. Butler—where Smith went to high school.

Smith was able to make the ruse last by enrolling Burdell in classes and turning in assignments for him (with some help from friends). The elaborate prank lasted all the way to graduation day, when Burdell earned his degree in Mechanical Engineering. Presumably they didn’t take…

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