By Stacey Gomm
Civil Engineering professors and students share a close bond. We value relationships that extend beyond the classroom. I think the department provides one of the best out-of-class experiences at the University of Maine, although I might be a little biased because I’ve been a Civil Engineering major for four years.
Every Friday, professors and students participate in what is called CIE 1000. The American Society of Civil Engineers (student chapter) advertises the event and promotes this event dedicated to student-faculty bonding. Most Fridays we head out to Pat’s Pizza for a night out on the town. The night is filled with laughs and conversation.
“It’s a great way to get to know the professors outside of them lecturing us during the week,” said fourth-year student Jessica MacDonald.
Since CIE 1000 has been implemented, membership in student engineering organizations has increased and student and faculty relationships have improved. Professors have noticed office hours being used more and students getting more involved in discussion.
Plus, it’s a lot easier to deal with a three-hour test on Monday after spending a Friday sharing a large Buffalo chicken pizza with your classmates and professors.
Image Description: Students enjoying a meal out with professors
We have many social fraternities on campus, but we also have academic and professional fraternities, such as Theta Tau. Theta Tau is a new professional engineering fraternity at the University of Maine, which has over 30,000 members nationwide.
The organization combines the best aspects of social fraternities and technical and honor societies. Benefits of membership include recognition for academic excellence, scholarships, networking opportunities, community service and the ability to participate in social activities with fellow members who have the same love for engineering as you do. You can network with students from all different engineering disciplines. You can assume leadership roles within your chapter. Textbook sharing is a great benefit, as is great job and internship opportunities through alumni connections. If you decide to study engineering at the University of Maine, I highly recommend looking into Theta Tau.
By Stacey Gomm
Being a woman in engineering hasn’t always been easy. Only 20 percent of the undergraduate students in the University of Maine’s engineering program are women. One of the steps I took to help feel more comfortable being a minority in my major was joining Society of Women Engineers. The Society of Women Engineers, or SWE as we call it, is a nonprofit educational service organization that empowers women to succeed and advance in the field of engineering, and to be recognized for their life-changing contributions as engineers and leaders. SWE helps it members through training, development programs, networking opportunities, scholarships, outreach and advocacy activities and much more. SWE also works alongside other engineering groups to host the only engineering formal dance held at the University of Maine.
Joining SWE helped me connect with other female engineering students and helped me grow my network of friends and colleagues. It also gave me the opportunity to meet professional women engineers. SWE also offers many community service activities. Every year SWE hosts a Science in Action Day helping Girl Scouts from around the area earn their merit badges. Each discipline in engineering has fun science experiments for the girls to complete, including egg drops and tooth pick bridges. This encourages girls to become interested in math and science at a young age.
SWE also reaches out to high school seniors. In November, SWE put on an event for merit award winners the past year. The college women gave tours of each engineering department with help from chairs in that department. They provided lunch for the girls and did some engineering competitions while their parents attend an informational panel.
“I think it will be very rewarding for the high school girls and will also let them see what engineering is all about. Who knows, we may even get some girls interested in the University of Maine Engineering program,” said SWE president Adrienne Fine.
SWE also gives students the opportunity to travel to the regional and national conferences. I had the chance to travel to California last year. It was wonderful to meet other women from across the country. Plus, there were great workshops and a HUGE career fair with more than 1,000 companies present and ready to hire women engineers.
UMaine’s College of Engineering encourages women to join SWE and pays for incoming students’ membership fee. With your membership you have access to a bi-monthly magazine that gives plenty of useful information about professional development, current issues for engineers in general and women engineers in particular. SWE is open to all engineering disciplines including engineering technology, engineering physic, plus computer science majors. And don’t worry men can join too if they wish.
Image Description: UMaine SWE members at the National SWE Conference
By Stacey Gomm
To help motivate students, UMaine’s College of Engineering provides student lounges, a central location for hanging out and studying. Each engineering discipline has its own lounge. I have spent hours and hours in the CHEZ (the Civil Engineering lounge).
“It’s great to have a location where I always find other students in my major,” said Jordan Shulman, a senior Civil Engineering major. In the CHEZ there are leather couches, a flat-screen TV, computers, free printing, microwaves and great memories to be made. It’s easy to meet with clubs and study groups in these student lounges. I have walked by the electrical engineering lounge and have seen La-Z-Boys and a full snack bar.
Yes, engineering is a demanding major. But teamwork — and a great place to hang out — make things a little easier.
Image Description: IEE student lounge
Image Description: Chez: the Civil Engineering Lounge
By Stacey Gomm
Civil Engineering Major
Are you interested in Engineering at the University of Maine, but not sure what discipline you want to pursue? NO PROBLEM! Here at the University of Maine we have a class called Introduction to Engineering (GEE 105) and the best part is you get credit for it. It is a Pass/Fail course offered in the fall semester of your freshman year. The class is taught by one of my favorite faculty professors on campus, Chet Rock. He is the associate dean for academics and finance for the College of Engineering.
I took this course when I was a freshman back in 2007. Chet taught the course back then too. I came to the University of Maine knowing I loved math and science. I had heard UMaine had a great engineering program and I knew I wanted be a part of it. My only issue was I didn’t know what I could do. You can choose from Chemical Engineering, Biological Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engeering, Engineering Physics, Mechanical Engineering, Engineering Technology and Spatial Information Science and Engineering. WOW that’s a lot.
This course guides you in deciding where you will fit in the college of engineering. Each week you are brought to a different Engineering department to:
I remember walking around to each department and thinking, “wow, this is interesting, but I can’t see myself doing that for the rest of my life.” That mindset changed when Eric Landis, department chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering, walked in with his high energy and enthusiasm for civil engineering. His presentation inspired me and really made me feel like I found my home. When I was younger I used to always play with Legos instead of Barbies. That love for building was brought out in me when I realized I could build “real life” structures. It was a great moment when I realized I had finally found a focus and could concentrate my studies on a specific topic.
Students in this course tend to have these “ah-ha” moments when they figure out their real passion. Just ask Chet Rock:
“My favorite part of teaching this course is when students finally come up to me and have a big smile on their face, realizing they have found a home in engineering,” Rock says.
So don’t worry if you can’t figure out what you want to do yet. There’s plenty of time. And plenty of help.
For more information visit http://www.engineering.umaine.edu/.
Image Description: Students in UMaine's Introduction to Engineering course
By Stacey Gomm
Civil Engineering Major
Being an Engineering major at the University of Maine is not an easy task. Professors understand the demand of school work and understand your busy schedule. To ease the stress of school the Civil Engineering department puts on barbecue for the students at least once a semester. Members of the American Society of Civil Engineering Students help the faculty flip burgers and cut the cake. Football and kickball games usually break out. This event is highly anticipated and classes are even let out early to attend the event.
This semester’s barbecue happened on a great sunny day. Students carried out the concrete canoe they made last year to place sodas in (in Civil Engineering, there’s a team that makes a canoe out of concrete, and yes, it actually floats. You can read more about it here). There was a great turnout by students and professors.
One of my close engineering friends, Jessica MacDonald, loves the Civil barbecue and during the event said, “It’s great to be in a stress free environment to get to know your professors.” It is quite entertaining sitting in a classroom taking a test with Professor Per Garder one minute, and the next minute watching him run around the bases in a kickball game.
Events like this really make professors more approachable and help you feel more at ease in class. At UMaine, there is no definite line between professor and student like there is in high school. Faculty here have an open-door policy and professors are willing to work with you. Especially in Civil Engineering, you get the sense that the chance to hang out with students is a highlight in your professors’ day as well.
Image Description: Students at the Civil Engineering BBQ
By Stacey Gomm
Civil Engineering Major
The University of Maine College of Engineering goes out of its way to provide jobs for its students. Faculty don’t just hand you a diploma and send you on your way. One of the best events the college puts on is the Engineering Job Fair, which is just for graduate and undergraduate engineering students. It is held right on campus so you don’t have to travel anywhere to receive the benefits. As Dana Humphrey, the dean of the College of Engineering, says, the fair gives you the opportunity to “meet dozens of outstanding companies that are looking for engineers just like you.”
This year there are 58 top engineering companies attending, offering full-time jobs for graduate students and seniors, and summer internships for undergrads.
Even if you’re not looking for a job or internship this event is great to just get your name out there and network. The experience talking to engineering companies is invaluable. Students need to bring a resume to the fair, and at UMaine’s Career Center, students can set up a personal appointment with a resume expert. They provide paper and printers to make your resume looks its best. So today I’ll be bringing my resume, putting my best foot forward, sticking out my right hand (as in handshake), and saying, “My name is Stacey, and I’m very interested in learning more about your company!”
Image Description: Flyer for 2010 Engineering Job Fair
By Stacey Gomm
Civil Engineering major
While I was walking to Boardman Hall for my Advanced Roadways Design class I was distracted by about 30 students who were crowded around a bright green car. There were flags and tents all along Cloke Plaza. My curiosity got the best of me, and I felt like stopping and seeing what the excitement was.
I talked with a fellow engineering student, Heman Norris, who told me what the heck was going on. ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) student chapter was hosting a car display. They worked to bring Ford’s New England Summer student tour to the University of Maine campus. Ford’s New England Summer tour consists of a group of students working for Ford driving around to different campuses. They offer students the chance to test drive a new Ford Fiesta. Any student had the chance to jump in this new car and after completion of the test drive they received a $7 gift certificate to Margaritas Mexican Restaurant in Orono.
The Ford Fiesta they brought to UMaine was a fancy lime green color, with cool graphics on the side. It was a beautiful day and the test drive drew a huge crowd. It’s really great to see that large companies seeking out our engineering students. And who doesn’t want to ride in a new car for free and get a gift certificate to one of Orono’s hot spots? Sign me up. And don’t worry — I wasn’t late for my Advanced Roadway class.
Image Description: Test Drive Vehicle Ford Fiesta