Dean's Newsletter September 2018
A defining characteristic of a Vandal Engineer is that she or he graduates from our program prepared to “hit the ground running” in the workplace. I repeatedly hear from our industry partners that our students have a strong grasp of engineering fundamentals and a strong work ethic.
Last spring we launched a new program specifically aimed at workplace learning and preparation—the Cooperative (Co-Op) Education Program. A co-op experience offers students the chance to work full time for six months in a professional environment while being mentored and engaged in real work. Co-ops allow students to take on more complex projects than a typical summer internship and give industry hosts the chance to develop the student’s skills and explore the fit for a potential hire after the student graduates. Last week I visited with Devin Driggs while on his co-op assignment at Micron Technology in Boise. He made a great presentation of his project to me and his management team. Devin told me that he has learned an amazing amount in the past several months as he has been automating several internal manual processes for Micron. We have four computer science students from our Coeur d’Alene program currently working in co-ops and will include students from Moscow in the next January-May cohort.
One of the enterprises providing a co-op experience is Ability App, a tech company in Post Falls, Idaho focused on creating an app to help people with disabilities navigate public spaces. Founder Alex Knoll shared, "The U of I computer science student Ben Budai is doing amazing work for us! The new College of Engineering co-op program helps students and established companies mutually benefit. Students learn and grow by working on solving tasks in a real-world work environment, and the companies they partner with benefit from the student's talents and fresh ideas. Thanks to the efforts of my team, including U of I co-op student Ben Budai, we're very close to launching the web side of Ability App. I look forward to sharing it with you soon!”
Our co-op program is a point of distinction for us. We are the only engineering college in the region to offer students this opportunity. Embedding this work schedule within their academic pursuits also helps students financially. Our students are typically earning around $20,000 during each work cycle which helps with expenses and makes graduation more likely. We are expanding the co-op opportunity to electrical engineering majors this spring and considering other engineering majors in the future.
Preparing our students to successfully launch a career is one of the most important things we can do. Our track record shows we take this responsibility seriously. Our most recent outcomes survey, administered annually to each graduating class, tells us 90% of engineering students are employed, pursuing graduate school or engaged in military service. Our alumni and industry partners are key to our success. Thank you for your continued collaboration and support.
Larry A. Stauffer
Dean, College of Engineering
Women In Engineering Day for 11th & 12th graders
UI’s annual Women in Engineering Day invites high school juniors and seniors to spend a day on Moscow’s campus to learn what engineers do and how a career in engineering can make a difference in the world. Participants will engage in a hands-on design competition, meet faculty and alumni, tour engineering labs, and earn a scholarship toward an undergraduate degree in engineering. The event is free. High school juniors and seniors can register today to reserve a spot!
WIE Day is part of a bigger initiative Dean Larry Stauffer is leading increase the number of women students in the College of Engineering. He recently held a symposium in Boise to identify strategies for providing increased support and mentoring to aspiring female engineers and creating a more inclusive climate within the college.
John and Nancy Nation Support Upgrades to ECE Computer Lab
Thanks to John and Nancy Nation, the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering completed crucial upgrades to their computer lab. The new lab showcases a state-of-the-art computer server, new computers for 16 individual workstations and new flooring, paint and furniture. Joe Law, Interim Department Chair, said “the Nation’s gift allowed us to transform the ECE computer lounge. The new technology and furnishings create a space this is inviting and productive. Our students’ and faculty’s work is bolstered. We all love the new space!”
On September 20th, we celebrated the Nation’s generosity with a reception in the new ECE computer lab. John graduated in 1969 with a degree in Electrical Engineering. John said he and Nancy were motivated to make this gift to equip future engineers with the tools they need and also the space for faculty to help them understand how to maximize those technical tools in their work. ECE Student Allison Ellingson said the Nation’s gift has made an incredible impact. She shared, “The new computer lab has become a central hub for ECE students who can study and work there while having easy access their professors.” Upgrading lab facilities in the College of Engineering remains a priority. Thank you, John & Nancy Nation, for the gift to transform the ECE computer lab!
Ivanoff Brothers Advise and Inspire Engineering & Business Students
Kent (ChE ’86) and Dan (ME ’79) Ivanoff delivered a lecture on “The Engineering of Business or the Business of Engineering?” on September 17th. Their talk focused on the integration of business and engineering as a driving force for changing the game in markets ripe for transformation. Kent and Dan shared their personal experiences and gave students a provocative and unvarnished take on what’s required to drive change and create real value. They each punched way above their weight class in terms of what they envisioned for themselves as undergraduates in Moscow and encouraged students to do the same. Students enjoyed interacting with Kent and Dan. One student shared, “I appreciated how blunt they were when answering questions. They didn’t ‘sugar coat’ anything and gave honest advice on about coming from a school like UI as well as steps you can take to make yourself more marketable prior to graduation.” Kent is CEO and Co-Founder of VisitPay and Dan is the Founder and Managing Investment Partner, Schnitzer West LLC.