College of Engineering Dean Sharon L. Walker opened the first session of the first event of College Day 2019 for a group of first-year students with a pressing question: “Have you found out where the food trucks are yet?”
It’s a new academic year. Priorities must be established.
The relaxed, lighthearted exchanges of CoE College Day on Tuesday introduced a cohort of nearly 700 first-year students gathered at Mitchell Auditorium to their advisors, programs, activities, and coursework through early-morning department sessions. Students met in three groups to hear presentations and to ask questions of the ever-popular Q&A panelists. The panelists are juniors and seniors whose off-the-cuff responses were reassurance itself.
“You’re all in the same boat together. Don’t make the work of it any bigger than it is,” said Matt McConomy, a fifth-year student participating in the panel. “You all got accepted to this great university. You just have to be consistent—get up every day, get to class on time, pay attention, and you’re going to make it.”
Robert Decker, panelist and fifth-year student, added, “To be honest, I’d say put away your cell phone while you’re in class. It’s easy to be caught up in Twitter or YouTube and have 45 minutes go by and then realize you haven’t been paying attention. It’s part of the self-discipline.”
Students received their class T-shirts featuring iconic Philadelphia buildings. The shirt was created by first-year student Sam Vaughan, an undeclared engineer who was clearly delighted with having his design chosen. When asked why he selected the skyline for his subject, Vaughan said, “I’m sure a lot of students from this class will be working in some of those buildings in the future.”
CoE’s new class of engineers comprises 653 students, including 85 international students from India, Vietnam, Pakistan, Australia, Cameroon, El Savlador, and Albania, among other countries. The majority—465 of them—are from Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Six are from Connecticut. Two are from Texas. One is from Wisconsin, and one from Georgia. In all, 26 states are represented among the incoming class. The most common first name among young men is Daniel; and among women, Olivia. And the most common birthday is February 7.
Once again this year, the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics (MEM) has the largest number of new students at 205. Next are computer engineering with 87 students, chemical engineering with 71, and undeclared engineering with 69.
During the Q&A session, students asked about class requirements, when to apply for the BS/MS program, double majors, how to find good co-op jobs, how high school classes prepared them for the rigor of engineering, the best professors, whether there is time for extracurricular activities, and where to find good, cheap food in Philadelphia. (Students were directed to the food trucks—and to West Philly.)
Noting during her appearances that 2019 marks the 100th anniversary of the cooperative education program here at Drexel, Dean Walker asked how many students had chosen Drexel predominantly on the basis of co-op. In all three sessions, nearly every student in the auditorium raised his or her hand.
“One hundred years ago, Drexel was already thinking about what it means to be an engineer. Think about that. This is the flagship college of this university,” she said. “Being an engineer is a lot of work. It’s not for the faint-of-heart. It’s a rigorous curriculum. But you’re an intrepid bunch. You decided to become engineers because you want to change the world.
“We accepted you to Drexel because we believe you have what it takes to be an engineer,” she added. “We’re so glad to have you here to be part of that rich tradition.”
College Day Parties On at Rec Center
Later, CoE celebrated College Day at the Rec Center, with student organizations, games, food (ice cream!), and T-shirt handouts as students milled around and got acquainted.
Anna Campbell, a first-year student who participated in the DELTA Summer Program, plans to pursue a degree in Engineering Technology, motivated in part by family advocacy.
“I’ve always heard that Drexel was very strong in engineering. To get where I want to be in life, Drexel is a great stepping stone,” said Campbell. “The people I’ve met so far have been incredible.” Campbell added that Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disorder runs in her adoptive family, and that she intends to use her degree to find ways “to help people with CMT be able to walk and run again.”
Kris Melag is pursuing a degree in civil engineering, and was struck by the diversity of students in his first-year class. He is the first member of his family to attend college in the United States.
“Welcome Week has been a blast so far, to meet other people in my major and from so many different cultures, too,” Melag said. “It’s a blessing to see so many people from all the world cultures come to one of the best interactive universities in the world.”