A chocolate chip cookie offers added incentive to meet with freshman adviser Israel Urieli, an associate professor of mechanical engineering.
Photographer: Stephanie Morrison
Urieli has been teaching and advising students in the Russ College of Engineering and Technology for 28 years.
Photographer: Stephanie Morrison
Feb 19, 2012
By Monica Chapman
For mechanical engineering majors, advising has tangible rewards. For starters, there are chocolate chip cookies.
This is among the early lessons in ME 100: "Introduction to Mechanical Engineering." And it offers added incentive to meet with freshman adviser Israel Urieli, an associate professor of mechanical engineering.
"At the end of the 15-minute advising session, I remove their advising hold and send them off with a chocolate chip cookie, requesting that they return sometime in the near future with their TDCP so that we can review and submit it," Urieli said.
The chocolate chip cookie has become a tradition in Urieli's 28 years at the Russ College of Engineering and Technology. And according to Mechanical Engineering Department Chair Greg Kremer, it sets the tone for the program's advising methods, which are rooted in the adviser-advisee relationship.
"I think all of our advisers have a good process of sitting students down and engaging them in a discussion instead of giving them a perception that they can just pick up a DARS and go," said Kremer, who currently oversees the department's 93 senior advisees.
In Mechanical Engineering, advisers change year-by-year, based on a student's academic standing. Each quarter during Advising Week, department advisers assist students individually – from the freshman mapping out a course of study to the senior debating graduate school.
"We try to have the culture of valuing advising and that time with the students," said Kremer. "From the overall experience they have with advising, they understand that it's a meeting that has value and purpose with respect to their academic career and planning."
Advising is so valued among mechanical engineering students that senior leaders are shouldering some of the responsibility for their classmates' success in the Transition Degree Completion Planning (TDCP) process.
Even though senior mechanical engineering major Abby Frankart will graduate prior to the calendar conversion, she recently helped to set up peer advising sessions for program underclassmen through Mechanical Engineering's Student Advisory Board.
"So often we say, 'I wish I would have known this as a freshman or sophomore.' … The only way freshmen or sophomores will know the information that I know will be if we give it to them," said Frankart, an advisory board leader.
The board was pleasantly surprised when its first student advising session in the fall attracted more than 50 students. An additional 50 students have attended subsequent sessions during winter quarter.
"We feel like the faculty has done a lot for us. This is our way of helping to give back," said Frankart.
In addition to peer advising, the student advisory board members regularly sit in on Mechanical Engineering's faculty meetings. Here, they voice concerns, raise questions and propose initiatives on behalf of the student body.
"Whenever we have something that impacts students, we ask for their input," Kremer said. "Because Q2S had a huge student impact over the past two years, we've been asking for continual feedback from the student advisory board on these things and piloting materials with them."
The program's democratic approach has fueled seniors' participation in the TDCP process, according to Kremer.
"When you ask students for input and seriously consider it and include it in your decision-making process, that sense of ownership seems to pay off," he said. "The decisions we made in terms of the Q2S transition did have student input. Therefore, when the seniors were doing peer mentoring, they were sharing something they had some level of ownership in."
To further emphasize the importance of Q2S, the department worked to integrate Q2S preparation into the curriculum. In addition to resources and class discussion, several activities related to Q2S planning were developed for the "Introduction to Mechanical Engineering" course, with a focus on taking responsibility for your education.
"The intent was to get the students to think that this is a valuable activity, and it's worthy of my time and mental energy," Kremer said.
In addition to his faculty responsibilities, Kremer serves as the University Curriculum Council Programs Committee Chair. In this role, he has helped to review every program on campus in preparation for the semester conversion. The key to successful implementation of these changes lies with effective advising, he said.
"Good advising is based on relationships just like good teaching is based on relationships," Kremer said. "So my approach is … to make sure that I do take that first step to know the student. Then the other thing that advising brings is knowledge of curriculum and program. We try to bring those two things together."
Throughout winter quarter, Compass will feature tips and information on advising students through the Q2S transition, based on input from top student advisers.
Articles in this series include:
First completed TDCPs bring University one step closer to semesters
Regional collaboration promises streamlined advising across campuses
Chillicothe adviser enhances TDCP process with technology
Advisers step students through curricular change in preparation for Q2S conversion
OHIO is one of 17 public universities and community colleges across the state converting to semesters in accordance with the University System of Ohio's strategic plan. Questions about the quarters-to-semesters transition at Ohio University can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit http://www.ohio.edu/q2s/.