This week, students at the School of Engineering and Applied Science are celebrating what makes engineering awesome.
Engineering Week, which is hosted by the SEAS student councils, kicked off Sunday night with an opening ceremony featuring Engineering Student Council President Tim Qin, SEAS ’13, and Engineering Graduate Student Council President David Parker.
Throughout the week, students will tour labs, listen to lectures, attend advising sessions with academic and pre-professional counselors, and enjoy some engineer bonding.
This year, building community is the council’s main priority, ESC Vice President of Student Life Sheila Misheni, SEAS ’14, said.
To do this, Misheni said the council reached out to more student groups than it has in previous years.
The goal was to “create a week where it’s engineering pride, engineering community, also collaborating a lot with other student groups,” Misheni said, including pre-professional and major-specific groups.
Qin said that this year’s theme for the Columbia week, “Celebrate Awesome,” will highlight engineering around the nation.
“We basically have a midterm every other week and the last midterm probably ends the week before finals,” Qin said at the opening ceremony in Lerner Party Space. “At the end of the day, we should realize that we will make a difference in other people’s lives.”
“E-Week is a good thing because it attracts people … so more students can get to know SEAS kids,” Nancy Araceli, SEAS ’16, said.
About 400 students lined up for the opening ceremony on Sunday, but Lerner Party Space is capped at 200 students.
Misheni said that though the dean usually speaks at the opening ceremony, SEAS Interim Dean Donald Goldfarb did not speak this year because planning became too hectic.
“We’re just trying to keep it more student-focused rather than having administration come in,” Misheni said of the ceremony.
However, she and Qin both said that former SEAS Dean Feniosky Peña-Mora, who resigned in July, was very involved with planning E-Week.
Besides free food events that help bring the community together, Misheni said the council has also planned a large-scale major discovery event called Passport to SEAS.
A “huge sort of Mudd open house,” Passport to SEAS is an event geared toward first-years and sophomores, to teach them more about the different majors at SEAS, Misheni said.
“We have lab tours, professors are giving lectures, we have CSA [Center for Student Advising] advisers and also CCE [Center for Career Education] for preprofessional stuff, as well as student groups manning the floor so you can get a student perspective,” she said.
Qin said this is the first time the councils have worked so closely with professors, administrators, and student leaders for an E-Week event.
“One of the main challenges students face is choosing their major, having little exposure to courses in their major,” CSA adviser Andrew Plaa said. “The goal is to make students aware of what it will be like to pursue their major.”
Though events are geared toward SEAS students, E-Week is open to the entire student body.
“We reach out in ways to bring everyone in,” Qin said, citing examples such as CU Assassins and a laser tag event planned for Saturday night.
This year, the Columbia College Student Council decided to change the CC version of E-Week—College Days—to a weeklong music festival leading up to Bacchanal.
Misheni said that the two councils have different visions of how to build community at Columbia, but that both work. She added that E-Week isn’t a Columbia-specific event—it is celebrated at schools across the country.
Looking ahead, Misheni said ESC is always thinking of new ideas to make E-Week more exciting each year, such as collaborating with other schools in New York City.