EECS Undergraduate Advisory Board’s town hall meetings give students a voice

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Emma Roudabush, a senior computer science student who will graduate in May, wants to influence change before leaving Penn State. By joining the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) Undergraduate Advisory Board, the Murrysville native hopes to help make the electrical engineering and computer science and engineering departments’ transition into a school easier for undergraduate students.

“With the formation of the school, I wanted to combine the two separate student advisory committees to encompass all of EECS to help foster a sense of community within the school, as it still seems like it’s electrical engineering versus computer science and engineering, and to start solving some problems,” said Roudabush.

The board’s first move in doing so is to host EECS town hall meetings.

The meetings are for students only, with the promise that every concern raised will be brought to the six faculty advisers, three from electrical engineering and three from computer science and engineering. 

“The EECS town hall provides students a venue where they can express their experiences and thoughts on our school, from teaching quality and course availability to laboratory equipment and much more,” explained John Hannan, associate professor and interim department head of computer science and engineering. “Their collective voice provides valuable feedback to the faculty advisers who in turn can address the issues they raise and improve the programs we deliver to our students.”

The first town hall held in January was well attended. Roudabush said students were passionate about their concerns and shared ideas on how to make their student experience better.

“Students should be interested in these events because every concern they vocalize will be heard by the faculty and administrators of the school,” said advisory board chair Chris Miller, an electrical engineering senior from Audobon. “We can’t address every concern, but we can, at the very least, listen and bring it to the faculty advisers.”

And while the faculty advisers can’t act on every concern that was brought to their attention, they will address what they can.

“For example, the students suggested using a third-party website called Piazza for class-related discussion forums,” said David Salvia, the undergraduate program coordinator for the school and assistant professor in electrical engineering. “I had never even heard of that site, but I tried it out and now use it in EE 210.”

The faculty are working on addressing some of the other suggestions brought to them by the panel, and the advisory board is busy planning the next two town hall meetings for the spring semester, which will be held from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Monday, Feb. 22, in 262 Willard and 6:30 to 9 p.m. Monday, March 28, in 260 Willard. Their goal is to continue this open dialogue each semester.

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Last Updated February 22, 2016