August 15, 2006

Engineering Success Week helps new students

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Before beginning their college careers at Southern Illinois University Carbondale on Monday, Aug. 21, nearly 150 incoming freshmen in the College of Engineering are getting a jump on meeting new friends and networking with upperclassmen.

For about 10 years, Engineering Success Week has helped incoming freshmen and community college transfer students get an early glimpse of the campus, and build relationships with future classmates. The orientation program includes hands-on activities and team building exercises, said Bruce C. Chrisman, the college's coordinator of undergraduate recruitment and retention.

Media Advisory

Reporters and photographers are welcome to cover the team-building exercises on Thursday and talk with incoming students, mentors and faculty. The first session begins at 10:30 a.m. on the west lawn of the Engineering Building near the boat docks. The second session begins at about 1:30 p.m. at Touch of Nature Environmental Center, which is seven miles south of Carbondale on Giant City Road. Contact Touch of Nature at 618/453-1121 for specific directions to the event site. For information on the events associated with Engineering Success Week, contact Bruce C. Chrisman or Lizette R. Chevalier at 618/453-4321.


More than 90 percent of incoming freshmen, including those commuting from home, will participate in the events, which begins with a pizza party Wednesday for students, their families and faculty members. The team exercises are Thursday morning and afternoon, with specially trained staff members from SIUC's Touch of Nature Environmental Center leading the activities.

The exercises and the networking with other classmates counteract new students' feeling of isolation to not feel isolated and provide a start to developing friendships, said Lizette R. Chevalier, who chairs the college's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Students who start to develop friendships this week will see each other next week in calculus classes and find potential lab partners, said Chrisman, who helped begin the structured program. The program also helps incoming transfer students because they get a chance to "network with upperclassmen that are in the same level of coursework."

Between 25 and 30 current engineering majors are serving as mentors. Each of the mentors gets to know about five students. That allows discussions to occur between juniors, sophomores and freshmen. Once they see each other in hallways between classes it helps break down barriers, he said.

Shaping high-quality undergraduate programs is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University is following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.