Student organizations find time to give back
Engineering is a time-consuming discipline that involves lab work and involvement in student projects. Despite the time commitment, student organizations housed in the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources at West Virginia University have already logged more than 4,200 service hours for the 2016-2017 school year.
One of the most active organizations is WVU’s section of the Society for Women Engineers, which logged 775 volunteer hours last year. SWE sponsors several annual community outreach events with their largest being Girl Scout Day, a day filled with STEM activities intended to inspire young girls to pursue science- and math-related career paths.
Most recently the organization took a break from academics to spend a weekend volunteering at Animal Friends, a no-kill animal shelter located just outside of Morgantown. In addition to socializing with the shelter animals the volunteers took turns cleaning kennels, bathing and walking the dogs and even made time to spruce up the organization’s thrift shop that funds the facility.
“Sometimes as an engineering student you need a break from all of the school work, and from my experience being able to help others is a great way to spend down-time,” said Denna Davari, WVU SWE community service chair and industrial engineering major from Charleston. “I think the field of engineering and helping others goes hand in hand, so our members genuinely want to reach out and give back.”
The organization recently earned national recognition during the 2016 SWE conference by receiving a Gold Award for Outstanding Collegiate Section. The honor is given to sections that demonstrate the ability to share SWE’s mission of empowering female engineers through campus and outreach events.
Another organization in the national spotlight is the WVU Amateur Radio Club, which went from being inactive for more than a decade to being the second-most active organization in the College.
WVUARC has logged so many volunteer hours, in part, because of their involvement in the Amateur Radio International Space Station program. The club was one of only 11 organizations in the country selected for an opportunity to have contact with an astronaut aboard the International Space Station.
WVUARC has partnered with the College’s outreach effort to promote their upcoming ISS contact and STEM education through summer engineering challenge camps and school visits that feature projects like communicating using Morse code and controlling robots via satellite.
“We believe it’s important to help students get excited about opportunities in STEM fields,” said Oliver Wiegand, a dual major in computer engineering and computer science from Morgantown. “Volunteering on behalf of WVUARC is very important to our members and the revival of the club has given us a platform to make an impact in our community.”
While some student organizations devote their time to giving back to their communities, others, like Sigma Phi Delta Fraternity of Engineers, focus their energy into giving back to fellow students.
The College provides student organizations with funding on an annual basis that is proportional to the amount of service hours the organizations complete. SPD was awarded $2,250 for the hours they accumulated while volunteering at Ronald McDonald House and events like Relay for Life and the Red Shoe Walk-a-Thon. SPD used the funds to provide 10 engineering students with scholarships that can be used to pay for the registration cost of the Fundamentals of Engineering exam.
“The FE exam in many aspects is the first step in a person’s engineering career,” said Matt Hergenroeder, a mechanical and aerospace engineering major from Williamsburg, Virginia. “Taking the FE exam often leads to pay increases and better job prospects. It’s our hope that through this scholarship we will help students reach their full potential as successful engineers.”
Additionally SPD recently held a raffle to raise funds for the Colleges’ new Career Closet, which allows engineering students to obtain gently used business attire free of charge. The proceeds from the raffle will be used to help the purchase supplies and clothing in needed sizes as inventory becomes low.
“We don’t just want to improve the lives of our fraternal members,” said Garrett Sollon, SPD president and petroleum and natural gas engineering major from Houston, Pennsylvania. “We want to help the entire college as much as we can, which is really what volunteering is all about.”
Despite being some of the busiest students on campus, organizations at the College are on track to complete a record number of service hours by the end of the school year.
“Volunteering is becoming a part of the culture for our student body,” said Schlobohm. “Our students are always looking for opportunities to serve.”
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