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Friday, April 19, 2024 — Houston, TX

Engineer week celebrated

By Molly Chiu     2/22/12 6:00pm

This week, Rice University joined universities all over the country in participating in National Engineers Week, a week dedicated to celebrating accomplishments in engineering fields. National Engineers Week also aims to get more students interested in careers in engineering. Presented at Rice by Dean of Engineering Ned Thomas and Rice Engineering Alumni, the weeklong event offered panels, study breaks and a student design competition.

Engineer Your Career presented by Rice Engineering Alumni

On Monday, a panel of Rice Engineering Alumni met in McMurtry Auditorium to discuss careers in engineering and to answer questions from students. Panelists included professionals in computer science and mechanical, chemical, civil and bioengineering. REA President George Webb (Wiess '88, '91) called the event a success and thanked the panelists.

"These alumni take great pride in presenting to students an honest picture — no fluff, just the plain truth about what matters and what doesn't in starting your career," Webb said. "The students seem to appreciate that."

Dean's town hall and happy hour for graduate students

On Tuesday, Thomas met in McMurtry Auditorium to speak with engineering graduate students. Thomas, who previously worked as a professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said he was interested in hearing what graduate students did and did not like about their department.

Engineering Competition

On Wednesday, students gathered in the Grand Hall to compete in an engineering design competition. Teams were tasked with moving 20 binder clips into a cup without using their hands and were allowed to use pencils, paper, rubber bands and string to accomplish this. Teams were judged based on how many materials were used and how much time they took.

First place went to team "The First Triumvirate," composed of Brown College freshman Michael Lebens and Hanszen College freshmen Seth Davis and Tatiana Narvaez. Each team member won $150.

Wiess College sophomore and member of team "Who Dat?" Nathan Liu said that he had fun working together with his group.

"The excitement came from knowing what we wanted to build and then arguing and figuring out how to plan and actually do it," Liu said. "It's improvisation and impulsiveness mixed together."

"Where are all the women? Gender Differences in Science and Engineering" presented by Rice University's Women in Science and Engineering

On Thursday, in Farnsworth Pavilion, RUWiSE organized a panel of female engineering professors to discuss the underrepresentation of women in the fields of natural sciences and engineering. According to RUWiSE Co-Founder Elizabeth Van Itallie, the event was organized to give undergraduates and graduate students a forum to talk to professors and to address challenges facing women pursuing degrees and careers in science and engineering.

"For students in certain majors or departments, the small number of female faculty can mean that they do not have them as professors for classes and therefore need other opportunities for interaction," Van Itallie said.

Dean's study break for undergraduate engineers

On Thursday in Martel Hall and McMurtry Auditorium, Thomas hosted a study break in which he showed PBS documentary The Light Stuff. The film follows a group of MIT undergraduate students as they seek to build a human-powered airplane capable of flying 74 miles from Crete to Santorini. Thomas said that he liked the open design aspect of the challenge because the students didn't even know whether the flight was possible.

"It's not a cookbook or a recipe," Thomas said. "The point is to inspire students to try stuff that may be close to impossible. Going to the edge and going over the edge is what life is about. I'm trying to inspire the next set of designers to think even bigger."

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