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Engineer Your Major event connects students and engineers

Annual day-long conference at UC helps students determine their path in engineering

Choosing a specific major and planning a career path as an undergraduate can often feel overwhelming. To help students explore the many educational and job tracks in engineering, the Engineering Education department at the University of Cincinnati hosted Engineer Your Major, an annual event featuring more than 40 engineers eager to share their experience with approximately 1,300 student attendees.

“It’s important for students – those who have declared their major and those undecided – to hear firsthand in a Q&A setting what engineers actually do,” said Jim Tappel, engineering associate professor. “It gives these students another opportunity to explore the range of duties, skills and career paths within each major.”

This past fall, speakers, including faculty, upper-class students, alumni and engineering professionals, volunteered their time to share their experience studying, researching, teaching and working in the wide world of engineering. 

Sessions during the daylong affair included engineering professionals panels, a deep dive into each of the various UC engineering departments and information sessions on programs in the College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS) such as cooperative education (co-op) and ACCEND. Students also had the opportunity to visit an engineering professionals fair to make connections for future co-ops or jobs, as well as explore a student organization fair. 

Students listen to a speaker at Engineer Your Major.

Students listen to a speaker at Engineer Your Major. The event gives first-year students and others an inside look into engineering careers as they navigate their educational paths. Photo/provided.

While the conference-style Engineer Your Major event was geared toward current CEAS students, it was also open to prospective engineering scholars, as well as students invited from UC Blue Ash and Clermont campuses, neighboring colleges and Cincinnati-area high schools.  

Jash Gada, a second-year computer science student, said Engineer Your Major was beneficial to him as a freshman. He chose to join one of the planning committees that invited industry panelists for the 2019 event.

“Having participated last year, I think Engineer Your Major really helps students get one step closer to building an engineering identity, as well as get a clear look at a life in engineering disciplines early on in college,” Gada said.  

It can be difficult for first-year engineering students to envision their future career when they are entrenched in the initial rigorous math and science courses. Engineer Your Major offers a glimpse into the real-world impact they could have once they complete their degree. 

For Merdith Moore, a first-year biomedical engineering student, listening to people in her chosen field speak about their day-to-day work was impactful, especially because she had not yet taken many major-specific courses and was unsure of what type of work she wanted to do after earning a degree.

“I’ve been on the fence about staying in engineering,” Moore said. “But hearing actual biomedical engineers talk about their jobs, I feel like that helped me a lot and I am leaning more towards staying in biomedical engineering.”

Next year’s Engineer Your Major event is slated for Oct. 23, 2020. Industry professionals or others interested in volunteering at the event, can email CEASadvis@uc.edu.