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Community building and dinner: the Russ College welcomes largest incoming class

Anna Hartenbach | Aug 31, 2018
-Speaker speaking to a room of students

Community building and dinner: the Russ College welcomes largest incoming class

Anna Hartenbach | Aug 31, 2018

Chatter, laughter and excitement filled the air as the Russ College welcomed its largest entering class ever at the college’s annual first-year student welcome on Mon., Aug. 27.

Nearly 450 undergraduate students have joined the Russ College. Featuring student-led demonstrations  throughout Stocker Center and the Academic & Research Center, and a buffet dinner with faculty and fellow students at Baker University Center Ballroom, the event gave students a glimpse of student-led design projects and labs, and the opportunity to make friends.

Students explored demo stations that displayed problem-solving technologies including the Russ College’s award-winning autonomous vehicles, a flight simulator and a human-powered vehicle.

Danielle Klein, a freshman industrial and systems engineering (ISE) major, said the Human Factors and Ergonomics Lab was one of her favorite stops because it helped her see how she can get involved.

“I really like the aspect of industrial and systems engineering where you can interact with customers and people, and actively problem-solve. It’s an area that seems to be focused on logic, and I like that about it,” she said.

Freshman computer science student Daniel Abdelsamed said his parents, who are both engineers, subjected him to engineering early in life.

“What really got me into computer science was the Lego Mindstorm kits, which exposed me to computer programming,” he said. “Now, I plan to create for good by looking for ways I can use software to enhance the lives of others.”

Engineering Ambassador Maggie Allen, a junior mechanical engineering student, guided students through each station. She said the event is a great way for new students to get acclimated to college.

“I love getting to know the new students – it reminds me of how I was my first year. Being able to help them grow to their full potential is why I love doing this,” Allen said.

Diana Schwerha, associate professor of ISE, said the event welcomes new students to the Russ College’s tight-knit community.

“I see them getting excited feeling like they’re part of something that’s bigger than themselves – they’re now a part of a college, and they have four years to do great things here,” she said.

She added that other Russ College welcome week events, like the student involvement held later in the week, teach students to go beyond the classroom to get real-world experience and teamwork skills.

At the banquet, students gave video interviews for college production, dug into some lasagna, and heard from Associate Dean for Academics Deb McAvoy and Russ College Dean Dennis Irwin.

She advised students that the resources around them include the people around them.

“You haven’t met all of your professors yet, but I can guarantee they want you to succeed,” she said. “Another resource is other students, who will either be in classes with you -- or they’ve already taken the classes you’re in now.”

Irwin fielded the audience’s questions, selecting them from slips of paper dropped into a basket. He shared that his favorite part of campus is the College Green, and taught the group that there are actually two Wilson Halls.

Irwin, who recently announced plans to retire as dean in June 2019 and return to teaching in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, ensured he’ll continue to be a resource to students.

“We’re all people – faculty, staff, and administrators – and we had to figure out what we wanted to do too,” he said. “Most of us didn’t make straight As – boy what a lesson – but we still found our way, and you will, too.”

Read more in Dean Irwin’s welcome back message.

Colleen Carow contributed to this story.