CSE groups reach out to students

The groups work to pique high schoolers’ interest in CSE.

by Meghan Holden


Erin Syverson, president of the University of Minnesota’s Society of Women Engineers, first considered studying engineering in high school after attending an outreach seminar for women in science.

Every fall and spring, the group brings 70 to 80 high school girls to campus to try to increase the percentage of female engineers at the University, Syverson said.

The group also takes trips to local high schools to talk about their experiences as women in science and engineering majors. Syverson said a high percentage of the girls who work with the group are admitted to the College of Science and Engineering.

SWE is one example of CSE students reaching out as mentors to local elementary, middle and high school students to promote careers in science. The school’s more than 40 student groups all participate in outreach to high school students, Science and Engineering Student Board Vice President Evan Symons said.

“We’re here in college, and we really have an opportunity to do great things,” Symons said. “We like to see change happen.”

CSE student groups have made efforts to increase their outreach throughout the past few years, an initiative the board is passionate about, Symons said.

Nick Hammes does his outreach through GOFIRST — a student group that builds robots and mentors robotic teams in Minnesota.

“Aside from building our own robots, that’s a big part of our mission,” he said.

For every student enrolled in CSE each semester, $1 is given to the student board, and a portion of that money goes to outreach activities, said Susan Kubitschek, director of CSE Collegiate Life.

Multiple outside donors also fund CSE outreach programs, Kubitschek said.

“They want to instill a passion and love for STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] education, something that might be close to a donor’s background,” she said.

Chris Nolting, secretary of the Society of Physics Students, said his group also reaches out to students in the community regularly.

In the past two weeks, SPS held two different events for young students in the metro area, and members hope to increase the number of outreach events in the future, Nolting said.

“It’s very important for us to get younger students interested in sciences,” Nolting said. “We’re always on the lookout to do more outreach and help out more.”

GOFIRST has also made it a priority in recent years by helping more middle and high school robotic teams, Hammes said.

Last year, Hammes started a summer robotic seminar program for high schoolers — a program he hopes to continue when he is president of the group next year, he said.

“They are our future,” Hammes said. “The younger they build their skills, the more they can contribute to the world.”