Orientation gives some engineering students an early start

Some College of Engineering students got a jump start on college.

More than 200 students arrived at the University Park campus on Wednesday, Aug. 19 for orientation programs geared toward women and underrepresented groups. The annual Women in Engineering Program Orientation (WEPO) and Multicultural Engineering Program Orientation (MEPO) are designed to give students a strong foundation as they begin their academic careers at Penn State. Approximately 155 female first-year students are participating in this year's WEPO while more than 50 first-year students are taking part in MEPO.

The orientation programs give students the basics they will need in college, including computer training and campus knowledge, but also skills they will use as engineers, including communications, leadership and team work. The first-year students participated in team-building exercises, engineering design challenges and career networking.

Mackenzie Ceglar, an architectural engineering student from Altoona, Pa., said, "We got to design a futuristic 21st century dorm room."

Her WEPO teammates, Chelsea Billotte of Clearfield, Pa., and Stephanie Baker of Hastings, Pa., described the exercise as building a room that is more energy efficient, compact and safe.

"I've learned so much," Baker said.

It wasn't all business for the students, however. Students were treated to numerous social activities, including bowling, barbecue picnics, scavenger hunts, broomball and the obligatory Creamery ice cream treat.

The first-year students said they also relished the opportunity to meet not only their fellow incoming students, but also the College's sophomores, juniors and seniors, who returned from summer break early to mentor the new students.

"They love to be around us," Billotte said, adding that the mentoring students will often stop by the new students' rooms to say hello or ask them to participate in some social activity.

Nearly 70 returning students gave up the end of their summer to serve as mentors in the WEPO and MEPO programs this year.

Kristin Sliwinski, an aspiring architectural engineer from Copley, Ohio, said the orientation program wasn't at all what she thought it would be.

"I was expecting something like big lectures with people talking," she said, "but it turned out to be a blast!"

To see photos from the programs, visit http://live.psu.edu/stilllife/2122 online.

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Last Updated August 25, 2009