Cal Poly’s College of Engineering plans to showcase the success of its program at Open House this weekend with the help of student projects, panel discussions and an alumni luncheon.
One of the most popular Open House events is RoboRodentia, a competition between robots built by teams of Cal Poly students and members of the community. It will be held in the Rec Center on Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m.
This will be the eleventh year of the event under its current name, but the contest has been going on for 15 to 20 years. Joe Grimes, an advisor to the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers Computer Society (IEEE-CS), which organizes the competition, said RoboRodentia shows how Cal Poly students are successful as a result of their classes.
“People are interested in seeing what we’re doing here at Cal Poly in terms of preparing our students. They’re looking to see the different things that people have done to achieve the rules of the contest,” Grimes said.
In fact, RoboRodentia draws such a large crowd that it was moved to Mott Gym last year. Donna Aiken, the director of college relations, said RoboRodentia is the second most popular Open House happening after the tractor pull. Last year, attendance exceeded 1,500 people.
Grimes said joining an engineering club or society such as IEEE-CS has benefits that extend beyond college. Learning how to work effectively in teams is something engineering majors must master in college. Representatives from different companies give the students familiarity with job opportunities in their fields through the clubs.
The largest engineering club at Cal Poly is the Society of Women Engineers, with 484 members. For the past four years it has been named the No. 1 Large Outstanding Student Section in the nation. SWE works closely with the Women in Engineering Program at Cal Poly, which will be having a panel discussion Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. titled “Past, Present & Future of Women in Engineering.”
“Currently, the percentage of women in the college of engineering is 40 percent,” WEP director Helene Finger said. “Obviously, we’re looking for that to be 50 percent.” Companies are looking for the same thing, she added, because a diversity of employees makes a better product.
The panel of alumni and students will be discussing several questions aimed at providing useful advice for incoming freshmen. Those questions include how and why did students choose their majors and what is it like to be a woman in an engineering job.
WEP will also be having a booth on Saturday dedicated to elementary and secondary school outreach. A program called Passport to Engineering will encourage younger students to visit the different club and department booths to be able to get a stamp in their “passports.”
Every department will be having their own programs, such as panel discussions and project displays, said Amy Hewes, the director of publications and communications. The College of Engineering as a whole will hold an alumni luncheon Saturday at 11 a.m., where graduates will be awarded with professional achievement awards.