Q+A with Society of Peer Mentors, Robotics Co-Chair

April Gaydos, the Robotics Co-Chair for the Society of Peer Mentors organized a workshop on how to run a successful robotics team. We asked her a few questions about the work that went into it and what she enjoys about being involved in Peer Mentors. Check it out!

Q: How did you first become involved with Peer Mentors and why did you decide to join?
A:Upon entering my first year at LSU, I attended the Encounter Engineering Bridge Camp for freshmen. This camp was led by most of the members in the organization. These students truly inspired me throughout this week. From giving helpful advice to teaching us that engineering is fun, I was intrigued by this organization and how they came to be. After camp, I interviewed for a position within the Society of Peer Mentors as a robotics mentor. One year later, I was promoted to robotics chair. Joining this organization is one of the best decisions I have made in my college career.

Q: What do you enjoy most about being a part of this group?
A: Being a part of this organization is more than just student involvement. The people in the Society of Peer Mentors become your family. Their goal is to help you grow as a student, a professional, and as a person. This different dynamics is what makes the Society of Peer Mentors stand out.

Q: What are your duties as Robotics Co-Chair?
A: As Robotics Chair, I work with both LSU students and East Baton Rouge K-12 schools. We pair mentors from LSU with the robotics programs in East Baton Rouge to work with them throughout their competition season. I also conduct interviews, trainings, and weekly meetings, as well as communicate with all parties involved throughout this process. I also have a Co-Chair that works with me on all of these endeavors.

Q: Tell us about the recent workshop on how to run a successful robotics team that you held. What did you do at the workshop, who was there, etc.?
A: This work shop was created for the leaders of robotics teams in Louisiana. We spent the day educating these leaders on how to build a successful team through team building exercises, personality tests, conflict resolution, design processes, and goal setting. Also, since we had limited time for this seminar, each leader left with a portfolio detailing all of the information from the day, as well as additional information on business plans, obtaining sponsors, and awards. In total, we had eleven schools attend this workshop.

Q: Tell us about the amount of time and energy you put into making this workshop happen.
A: This work shop has been two years in the making. The process started with an initial idea to help build robotics teams in non-technical aspects: business plans, sponsorships, leadership skills, team building, etc. I presented this idea to Adrienne Steele, the STEP coordinator, who approved the idea for this workshop. I then created surveys to receive feedback on what the teachers would like to see in this workshop. This feedback is what inspired the topics that were presented during this workshop.

Q: What made you interested in hosting this workshop/what gave you the idea to do so?
A: After spending eleven years in the FIRST Robotics Program, I have seen many strong teams struggle due to poor leadership, lack of future goals, financial concerns, etc. There are not many resources regarding these topics. Because of this, I took it upon myself to help these teams improve and grow. This project was special to me because of my own experiences within the robotics programs.

Q: Did you face any obstacles along the way and if so, how did you get past them?
A: Many obstacles occurred along our path to creating this workshop. One of the biggest obstacle was coordinating a day where there LSU had an away football game and the teachers were available to attend. Multiple surveys were sent out in attempt to find the best day available for all parties involved.

Q: How has being in Peer Mentors and serving in a leadership position prepared you for life after college?
A: The Society of Peer Mentors has given me many opportunities to grow. Coming in to this program, I was shy and quiet, but the opportunities I have been given has pushed outside of my comfort zone. I have given many presentations, led trainings, and now hosted my own workshop that I oversaw from start to finish. Before joining this program, I would not have felt confident enough to be able to accomplish these tasks!

Name: April Gaydos
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Hammond, LA
Society of Peer Mentors, Robotics Chair

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Encounter Engineering in Seattle

A group of students recently toured Seattle as part of the Encounter Engineering program. Here’s an account of the trip from one of them!

Growing up in a small town where a trip to the grocery store means running into half of the population is vastly different than the hustle and bustle of a large metropolitan city. Deciding to attend Louisiana State University was a large step outside of my comfortable bubble of the quaint small town life, but it wasn’t my last step. Approaching my junior year, I was presented with the opportunity to travel with the College of Engineering to Seattle, WA. Being honest, the idea of traveling across the United States with a group of strangers was quite daunting, but I decided to take a leap of faith and sign up for this new adventure!

Upon landing in Seattle, we were whisked away with frigid air and a busy schedule. Through the week we toured seven companies including: Arena Net, Google, Amazon, Boeing, Expedia, Glympse, and 343 Industries. At each of these companies we were not only greeted with open arms, but also given a glimpse of the “real world;” each company presenting us with a different view of life in industry.

Arena Net was one of the first stops on our industry tour. One of the most memorable parts of this tour was the “Sound Room,” where all the sounds within their video games are created. This exposed each of us to a new aspect of engineering, sound engineering, but our adventure did not stop there.

The next day, we arrived at Amazon bright and early in the heart of Seattle. Outside the front entrance was a community banana stand. Each morning employees of Amazon give away bananas to anyone who walks by and they also have special treats for all furry friends. Amazon works to embrace and welcome the community as a thank you for all the support they have received from Seattle.

Reflecting upon this short cross-country trip, the experience taught me more than how to answer interview questions or build a resume. This trip gave me insight on what it is like to embrace a new culture and grow both personally and professionally. One of the most valuable pieces of advice I learned from this trip is to “be brave.” Whether it is exploring a new type of engineering or opening a banana stand to show appreciation to your community, it is the new ideas, the risks, and the bravery that make you successful in life.

– By April R. Gaydos
Mechanical Engineering
Junior

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My experience at the Grace Hopper Conference

This blog post comes from a Computer Science student who recently attended a large conference for women in computing. Jackie shares her daily experiences and thoughts from the conference below!


Grace Hopper is the largest conference for women in computing. I was lucky to attend the event for the second time with Yahoo on a scholarship.

Tuesday Oct. 18
I left for Houston a day earlier than the conference because Yahoo planned a dinner for all the scholarship recipients. On my way to the hotel, I met up with another scholarship recipient because I didn’t want to take an Uber by myself. As soon as we met, we instantly clicked and began to talk like we had been friends forever. At the dinner, I was sort of quiet as I observed all the strangers in front of me. The majority of them were from California, and I didn’t have a lot in common with them regarding how we grew up. If only, I knew I was sitting next to people who would be the best part of my GHC experience.

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Wednesday Oct 19
First day of the conference was pretty busy. I rode to the convention center with some scholarship recipients and a Yahoo employee. I splurged and bought a tea from Starbucks to start my morning only to spill it on the floor before I could drink it. I had quite of few interviews ahead of me, but I wanted to make sure I could see the keynote. A dose of inspiration and a confidence boost was exactly what I needed. During the keynote, the winner for the technical leadership ABIE award was announced. Anna Patterson, who is currently the Vice President of Engineering, Artificial Intelligence for Google won the award, and a video was played where people who knew her personally talked about her accomplishments. I had a strange feeling in my heart. A part of me was pitying myself because I would probably never be as successful or make as great as an impact on the world as Anna has. The optimistic, risk-taking side of me suddenly buried those thoughts, and I began to think about what it would take to be that person. I’ve made it this far despite many challenges, I couldn’t help but wonder where I’ll be in a few years. Grace Hopper was beginning, and I was getting exciting because I would never find more opportunities in one place in such a short amount of time anywhere else. I wish I could tell you about all the sessions I went to, but I unfortunately didn’t get to go to any because I had a bunch of interviews. As a college senior without any career plans after school, I don’t think that’s a bad problem to have.

Thursday Oct 20
I spent most of my time in the career expo meeting different companies and interviewing. At this point I was getting pretty exhausted, but my goal was to try to get a job offer from the conference. Yahoo threw a pretty awesome event where employees showed demos of some of the cool technology they were working on. Yahoo employees are seriously some of the coolest people I’ve met. These are the type of people who you can instantly become friends with as soon as you meet them. Everyone is so genuine and honest, which is really refreshing and rare to see. Yahoo hosted a hack event where students could create new projects using some of Yahoo’s technology before the conference. After the demos, we watched the students present their projects. I also met Tumblr’s CEO, David Karp after he gave everyone some insight of his journey with Tumblr.

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Friday Oct 21
I went to a speed mentoring session to start my day. I went to the event last year and enjoyed it so I wanted to make sure I went again. I tried to explain my struggle of being a college senior who is completing a computer science degree in 3 years opposed to 4. That’s one less year I could have had an internship or experience in programming. The competition for great jobs in computer science is steep, and I’m at a disadvantage. The response I received wasn’t anything I hadn’t heard before.

I spent most of my time with my friends from LSU because I hadn’t really hung out with them the entire conference. I got to catch up on how their interviews went, and I was able to get lunch with them. After lunch we went to the closing keynote. Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce started off the keynote. I thought it was interesting how GHC didn’t choose a female CEO to speak at keynote. Female CEOs are still rare, and I would have loved more insight on some on the struggles female executives face. The most powerful part of the keynote was watching the trailer of the new movie, ‘Hidden Figures’. The movie is about the untold story of 3 women at NASA, and their work helped John Glenn become the first astronaut to complete an orbit around the Earth. The movie openly discusses racism and discrimination, but still seems to be pretty humorous. After the trailer ended, the applause was so loud. African American women are still underappreciated today, and my heart was full being in a room with thousands of women appreciating African American women and acknowledging their struggle.

3After the keynote GHC threw a party, which was pretty fun. I wanted to make sure I didn’t leave the party alone for safety reasons. So I met up with other Yahoo Scholars and caught an Uber. During the Uber ride, we talked about our struggles being women in computer science, racial discrimination, and discussed some of the topics we heard at GHC with a different perspective. I felt like we were all best friends, and I really did feel safe to finally talk about my feelings. We all enjoyed it so much that we stayed up talking after midnight. They made me feel empowered. GHC 16 was definitely a great experience.

– By Jackie Robinson
Computer Science, Senior
Women in Computer Science

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Scholarship Application Tips

The LSU College of Engineering is beginning the scholarship cycle for the Fall 2016 semester. We encourage all undergraduate students to complete the following steps to improve your chances of receiving a scholarship from the College. We encourage you to complete steps one and two outlined below before September 15, 2016.

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Step One: Update Your Scholarship Application 

When awarding scholarships, we begin by reviewing your student record. We consider things like: your major, GPA, residency, extracurricular activities, and Expected Family Contribution (EFC) obtained from FAFSA. To update your student record, please visit scholarship-student.eng.lsu.edu.

Step Two: Upload Your Supporting Documents 

We also consider your resume, work experience and personal goals when awarding scholarships. To improve your chances of receiving a scholarship, please upload your resume, transcripts, letters of recommendation, and work verification letters beginning August 18th. You can also complete a personal statement to tell us more about Yourself. Complete step one and two by Sunday, September 18, 2016.

Step Three: Complete the Scholarship Recipient Profile

If awarded a scholarship, you will receive a notification email from the College. All notifications will occur by October 31st for the Fall semester. To confirm receipt of the scholarship, you will be required to complete a scholarship profile. The notification email will include instructions to complete this profile.

If you have any questions about scholarships offered by the College of Engineering or the application process, please visit http://scholarshipfaq.eng.lsu.edu.  

*First year transfer students will be contacted separately to supply student data not able to be obtained from the University.

 

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Top 10 Networking Tips for Students

Check out this list of the Top 10 Networking Tips for Students, by students!

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1. Start now. Developing your network is a skill that takes time to develop, and with practice it can be something that guides your future. Attend as many conferences as you can.

2. Learn how to properly shake hands. A firm handshake while looking at the recipient can make a strong impression.

3. Make eye contact. It’s an easy way to show the person you are talking to that you are listening and this will help you stand out.

4. Get involved with your student organizations. They are what you make of it, and can be another way to stand out and provide value to the industry you meet. It can also help you meet more students with similar goals or interests.

5. Be genuine. When you meet people it’s easy to develop relationships with them if they know you are genuine. It helps build trust and rapport.

6. Provide value to those you speak to. An easy way for me to do this was through student organizations. As I stated earlier, industry wants to get involved with student groups. Take advantage of it. Invite them to come speak, or see if your group can tour their facility.

7. Try not ask about jobs or internships. Build rapport with whom you speak to. If you are doing a good job, they will bring up jobs or internships without you having to ask.

8. Speak to people at conferences and learn what they have to say. Everyone knows something that you don’t. Have a goal when going to conferences to learn more about your field of study and your career. Ask thought provoking questions, often times it will help you to stand out and make more contacts.

9. Be professional and make sure you are presentable. Companies are always scouting new hires.

10. Follow up with everyone you meet. Add them on LinkedIn. Another great way to follow up is by sending them an email about getting involved in your respective student organization.

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Ryan Barsa
Petroleum Engineering
Hometown: Mendham, NJ
President, AADE at LSU

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