Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Engineering Dual Degree

Hi! I'm Melissa, a junior majoring in Chemical Biomolecular Engineering in SEAS and Economics in the College. Engineering has some of the most intense curriculums at Penn. Most of my friends take at least five if not six or more classes every semester. With all of this work, a lot of people find the idea of a Dual Degree, or even the newly formed Dual Major option, to be a bit daunting.

My freshmen year, I took one Economics class each semester, just because I thought Economics was a subject worth getting my feet wet in. I enjoyed the classes and took more the next fall with the idea that I would get a minor in the subject, but the more classes I took, the more I became interested. Economics for me, I like to tell people, is like psychology with math -  you use models and equations to try and predict or reason out why people make the decisions they do.

When I first decided to pursue a degree in Economics, the Dual Major option was not yet available, so I began taking other Humanities and Social Science classes to fulfill the general education requirements in the College. As a result, I have taken quite a few classes that I otherwise would not have bothered to try and fit into my schedule, and I have enjoyed most of them a lot. But I know that learning about long readings and writing papers are some engineers worst nightmare, so if that's you, the Dual Major option would be the way to go.

With the new Dual Major option, there is a lot more possibility to just take classes in a major without the general requirements. There are a lot of students in Engineering who try to enroll in a dual degree in with Wharton, but quite a few of my friends and classmates are pursuing degrees with the College. I really enjoy my CBE classes, but my Economics and College classes are a nice break from the computational thinking we're required to do all the time in SEAS.

There are some amazing classes and professors outside of Engineering, so if you like a subject in Humanities or Social Science, I'd definitely suggest taking a few classes to see if you enjoy it enough to want to pursue a major.

Have questions about Dual Degree or Dual Major?  Contact awe@seas.upenn.edu

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sleeping Bag Weekend

Sunday, November 6th, was Sleeping Bag Weekend. AWE hosted around 30 visiting students to teach them what being an engineer is all about. The girls were juniors in high school and stayed overnight on Penn’s campus with Penn student hosts. After being given tours of engineering, the girls spent quality time with their hosts. During this time, hosts gave tours of the campus and showed them landmarks such as the Quad, Van Pelt, and Houston Hall. A highlight of the evening was when the visiting students got to ask questions about the different engineering majors at a panel while enjoying delicious ice cream. The visiting students also got to see a “day in the life of an engineer” by attending classes with their hosts and study sessions. By the end of the weekend, the girls had a better understanding of what it is like to be an engineer as well as the different career options open to them.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Graduate Fellowships

Hello Ladies!

Do you know that there are many government and private foundations that want bright students like yourself to continue your education?! If you are thinking about applying to graduate school, especially to Ph.D. programs, than you should also be thinking about applying to one of the many graduate fellowship programs! 

Having a graduate fellowship can really enhance your educational experience in several ways. The first, and most obvious, way that a graduate fellowship can improve your graduate years is that you get money! Many schools even give fellows a few thousand dollars of bonus spending money as an incentive to students to earn external fellowships. From a less commercial point of view, obtaining your own external funding, barring extenuating circumstances, will allow you to pursue the research you want with the advisor you want! Fellowships can also offer a big professional boost. Not only does having one look great on your resume, but many offer great networking opportunities. Have I convinced you to apply yet? 

Now, before you begin the process make sure you talk to a mentor about which fellowships would be a good fit for you. Fellowship applications require a decent amount of time and effort, so you should be sure that you and your research are good candidates for the fellowship program. Also, start as early as possible, since it takes a while to get transcripts, letter of recommendations, GRE scores, etc. to the fellowship organization. Starting early will also give you time to have you application reviewed by a friend, a lab mate, the writing center, and/or a professor. The more people you can get to read your essays, the better! 

To get you started about thinking about which fellowships to apply to, I’m including a short list of fellowships for engineering graduate students: NSF’s graduate research fellowship program (Deadline: November 14 for engineering, November 15 for CIS), National Defence Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship (Dec 16), SMART scholarship (Dec 1), NASA Graduate Student Researchers Program (spring), and Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship Environmental Study (Jan 10).  (Please verify these dates for yourself, sometimes the websites change!) You should be sure to talk to professors, graduate students, and administrators in your field to find the best fellowship opportunities for you!

NOTE TO UNDERCLASSMEN: Many of these fellowship programs don’t change or only slightly alter the requirements and review process from year to year. If you are an underclassman thinking about graduate school, I urge you to read over a few of the fellowship guidelines to see the qualities that these fellowship programs look for in applicants. 

Good luck!

Questions about graduate fellowships?  Contact us at awe@seas.upenn.edu