Competitions, showcases, career success stories and more highlight the work of the School of Engineering and its students at UC Merced’s annual celebration of National Engineers Week, Feb. 18 to 21.
E-Week is an opportunity for engineering students to share the work they do with the campus, invite some friendly competition and introduce other students and younger school children to the field. Each day carries a specific theme, from Project Palooza (a showcase for engineering clubs and organizations) to Professional Day (career advice and alumni success stories).
Petia Gueorguieva, coordinator of the STEM Resource Center on campus, said the week and its activities are driven by engineering students.
“We want to make engineering more visible, bring it to the community and attract more people,” she said.
“We hope that engineering and other students will feel a connection to the campus and feel a stronger connection to engineering in general,” said Karla Gonzalez, manager of undergraduate advising in the School of Engineering.
A new addition this year is the Feb. 21 Competition Day, which pits teams of three to five students against each other in engineering contests. Any student can join one of the teams, each of which must solve a timed engineering problem. Each team gets the same set of materials and must solve the problem using only those materials and the team members’ ingenuity. The best solutions, as judged by the student-founded Vanguard Engineering Society, win prizes.
Engineering students came up with the idea to encourage more participation in E-Week, Gonzalez said.
“They thought if they made it interactive, more students would be interested,” she said.
The week opens Feb. 18 with Project Palooza, where engineering students share their projects and information about related clubs and organizations with the entire campus. In the past, for example, students have shown components of rockets they’ve built and flown drones around in a tent. The day is a showcase for roughly 18 organizations within the Vanguard Engineering Society, the umbrella organization for student groups.
Gonzalez said engineering students are always enthusiastic about their projects and the potential applications.
“They can look forward and look beyond the now to see how to apply their work in the future,” she said.
On Feb. 19, roughly 50 Pioneer Elementary school children will visit campus on Kids Day. The third- through fifth-graders meet UC Merced students, take tours and participate in a series of activities related to engineering and its role in ordinary life.
For example, the children will assemble solar circuits — an introduction to engineering, sustainability and renewable energy.
“They will be able to see engineering in action and how engineering provides solutions to our everyday problems,” Gueorguieva said. “It’s an excellent opportunity for school children to connect with our students.”
The STEM Resource Center supports Kids Day through its YES (Young Engineer and Scientist) Academy. The Energy Coalition provides the lessons and materials for the day, and undergraduate students run the activities with oversight by Vanguard.
Gueorguieva said working with the school children is invaluable for UC Merced students.
“They gain a lot of experience from the outreach events that we do,” she said. “They learn how they can serve as mentors and their responsibilities as role models.”
Feb. 20 is Professional Day, which features several career-oriented workshops and stories of success from UC Merced alumni in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) fields, which can be heard at an alumni panel and networking event hosted by the Student Alumni Association . The day also includes a resume-writing workshop, a lesson on building an effective LinkedIn page and a workshop on applying for jobs hosted by the Center for Career & Professional Advancement.