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College of Engineering


May 11, 2012

Today, Friday, May 11, 2012, I officially earned my Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering. So, as part of my last post, I’d like to share the Commencement address I delivered this afternoon as well as introduce the newest College of Engineering blogger. Typically, I greet Jaclyn Navara with an enthusiastic, not to mention loud, “Heyyy Jack-ayyyyy!” as coined by a much beloved West Point Tau Bate, but when required we’re all business. You see, Jackie is the incoming President of Tau Beta Pi, the Engineering Honor Society. So, although we’re no play when duty calls, I consider Jackie a wonderful friend and I promise you’ll be in great hands starting in September! Now with that, please enjoy my Commencement address and have a splendid summer!


College – It’s been enlightening, messy, confusing, exhilarating, dreadful, invigorating, overwhelming, fascinating, agonizing, romantic, and exquisite, all rolled up into one. But today, college is none of the above. It’s done. We’ve made the marks, sweat the blood, shed the tears, and, through it all, travelled down surprisingly difficult paths with the most incredible friends we’ll ever have. In the end, I think we’d all agree that every second of late night cramming was well worth the crisp slips of paper we’ll receive in just a few minutes. In fact, now that finals are over and problem sets aren’t even a blip on our radar, I’d say our time together at Rowan has been rich, satisfying, and deeply rewarding.

Travel bug Miriam Beard once said, “Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” Education, like travel, is more than just attending classes. Meant to empower and enlighten eager young minds, our college experience has enabled us to explore our interests and make use of our talents together. Hard-working and dedicated students, each of us is here today because we’ve pushed each other to achieve academic excellence. With the support of our families, friends, and professors, we’ve conquered top-notch engineering curricula, and, perhaps in just a few short weeks, we’ll be immersing ourselves in exciting new educational environments. Whether our studies have culminated with a delightfully decadent job offer or an invitation to dive deeper into the topsy turvy world of academia, we’re all chasing the same dream: making our mark on the world.

Just four short years ago, we entered college with the goal of one day embracing fulfilling life work while engaging our passions. Though each of us has our own personalized definition of “fulfilling life work” as well as unique passions, we’ve learned success in engineering depends on nurturing a lifelong love of learning as well as creativity, insight, and entrepreneurial appetite. We’ve also learned you really can’t survive engineering alone.

When we leave this ceremony today, I’m confident we’ll all embrace successful careers in many dynamic fields. But just like we’ve learned during our time here at Rowan, our most memorable experiences won’t be our experiences crunching numbers, they’ll be the cherished experiences that have enriched our relationships with the people we love. Sure, problem sets and research papers were handy tools for assessing our intellectual growth, but the real value of our college experience was finding an outlet for exploring our passions integrated with a few well played shenanigans along the way. If we’re not using it on a daily basis, we’re gonna forget all about process fluid transport, digital signal processing, surveying, and networks. As Dr. Savelski says, we’ll drop that corn. What we’re not gonna drop is the time we wore newspaper hats to materials science, doing good things with Dr. Schmaz, getting kicked out of Rowan Hall by the student patrol every night, and slaving over compressors for mech design. So as we move forward, let’s never forget why we’re passionate about engineering and the people who helped us nurture that passion.

After all, as Kurt Vonnegut once said, “What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously, but the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.” We’re all creative, insightful, and entrepreneurial individuals. After college, I’m sure we’ll all contribute to solving the energy crisis, finding a cure for cancer, and improving our nation’s infrastructure. What I hope is that we’ll all continue contributing to each other’s happiness. We did it, everyone. We graduated!

Brighid Burgin

I’m almost a real engineer…!

March 20, 2012

As a kid, Pinocchio was not my favorite Disney movie. I mean really, between turning into a donkey and getting eaten by a whale, Pinocchio and I not only had nothing in common, I didn’t want to have anything in common with that creepy little puppet. Now, fast forward to this year’s spring break and the conclusion of my final semester at Rowan, and I completely understand how that splinter of a boy felt at the end of that timeless Disney flick. With just 51 days left before I become a real engineer, I understand how Pinocchio felt when he was oh so close to becoming a real boy.

Fifty one. Cinquenta y uno. Just 51 short and sweet, yet agonizing, days stand between me and commencement. Of course, I still need to pass the fundamentals of engineering exam and design a chemical plant to produce 30,000 tons of tetrahydrofuran a year, but no sweat. I’m just two quick hurdles away from diploma time.

Hurdle 1 – Fundamentals of Engineering Exam: The FE exam is usually the first step leading to professional engineering licensure. It’s a killer eight hour exam designed to test the mastery of general and major specific engineering knowledge of students close to finishing an undergraduate engineering degree. Yes, the day of April 14th is gonna be a rough one.

Hurdle 2 –Plant design: Each major at Rowan puts their own spin on the classic concept of a capstone engineering project. For chemical engineers, we spend the spring semester designing a chemical production plant. Between biomaterials, quantitative analysis, and our other senior courses, we’re  busting our butts creating process flow diagrams, material balances, ASPEN simulations, equipment lists, safety assessments, and sustainability reviews. We’re running with scissors and it’s awesome.

Fortunately, in between the FE exam, plant design, and pomp and circumstance, I’ve got a few fun-filled hours ahead.  Tops on the list are staying up all night alongside my engineering girl friends as captain of the Society of Women Engineers’ Relay for Life team, catching West Side Story at the Academy of Music with a very special someone, dancing the night away at the College of Engineering Semi-Formal, and finally, getting roasted at the chemE class of 2012’s senior banquet.

As I look back and forward, I’d do it all again. Thank you Rowan and look out world!

Brighid Burgin

Minors, concentrations, and choices, oh my!!

February 19, 2012

The Rowan engineering curricula is, as I’m sure you can imagine, rigorous. With a focus on technical excellence, communication skills, and a well-rounded general education, Rowan engineering makes fitting a little something extra into an already jam-packed program quite a feat. Squeezing in a minor or concentration is not, however, impossible. In fact, it’s fantastically apropos.

Mathematics, science, and computer science courses are perceptibly linked to engineering. It’s no surprise then that countless engineering students at Rowan pursue minors in subjects including, but certainly not limited to, chemistry, physics, mathematics, computer science, etc. What you might not guess, however, is that within our own beloved College of Engineering, students can also pursue minors in electrical & computer engineering and mechanical engineering. We also have the option of pursuing concentrations in up-and-coming engineering fields such as bioengineering and systems engineering. But, as always, that’s not all.

Amongst my friends at Rowan, I know chemical engineering majors pursuing double majoring in music and Spanish as well as countless engineering students pursuing minors and concentrations in anything and everything from international studies to dance. We are, after all, rather complicated creatures… why shouldn’t we study everything we love?

Brighid Burgin

The most elegant equation

January 30, 2012

Contrary to popular belief, engineers are more than just steam table toting, circuit board building, tensile strength testing brainiacs. Sure, as engineering students we hope to possess enough technical expertise to make your head spin, but we also hope we’ll be mind-blowingly successful businesspersons, spokespeople, and maybe, just maybe, CEOs. So, since we’re not business majors, how do we acquire the skills necessary to charm the boss, close the deal, and rule the board room? That’s an easy one… extracurricular engineering activities.

As an example, let’s look at Rowan Engineers Without Borders (EWB). Long story short, we work hand-in-hand with communities in El Salvador and The Gambia to improve quality of life by implementing sustainable engineering solutions. Personally, I’ve worked on EWB’s clean water project in El Salvador since the second semester of my freshman year. With four amazing years under my belt, I’m definitely more business savvy than I was before my EWB adventures. In fact, I’m happy to say this past week has been a testament to the business savvy of Rowan engineering students.

Thursday night, Rowan EWB presented our recent activities to South Jersey’s chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers. On Friday, we received several emails from local engineers who attended our presentation. My favorite comment came from an engineer with 12 years of professional experience. This inspiration to our members stated, “I attended your presentation to the SJ ASCE yesterday and I just wanted to tell you how impressed I was with the whole group of you…  I wish I had nearly as much confidence to speak in front a crowd.  Your experience with EWB is going to serve you all very well in your lives.” A past President of ASCE engineer emailed us, “The energy and creativity you bring to these projects as well as your technical skills help solve critical problems.  The people in La Ceiba and The Gambia are much better off due to your efforts.  And, the benefits are for you as well because you’ll take the lessons learned on these projects and apply your experience to problem solving throughout your future engineering careers.”

Evidence not only to the exemplary communication skills Rowan engineering majors develop, Thursday night also showed we’ve learned a bit about business. In response to our new “adopt-a-filter” program in which individuals, families, and businesses can contribute $75 to construct one biosand filter for a household in La Ceiba, El Salvador, one donor wrote, “… after all your hard work, research, and experiments… I love that if we donate $75, a family gets clean water.  It’s simple. $75 = clean water.  What an amazing concept.”

As mentioned earlier, Rowan engineers are more than just book smart, we’re business savvy and worldly wise. We’re thrilled that our elegant little equation struck the fancy of a local engineer. We’re also thrilled that our experiences with EWB are setting us up not just to launch successful engineering careers, but to make a difference beyond the walls of Rowan Hall. So, to the countless professors, professional mentors, donors, family members, study buddies, friends, and significant others who support us budding engineers, thank you  and please continue to help us make our dream of serving others around the world a reality.

Brighid Burgin

Redefining romance

January 10, 2012

Ray Bradbury, a science fiction dreamer dripping with brilliance and charm, wrote, “The best scientist is open to experience and begins with romance – the idea that anything is possible.”

Within the classrooms and labs at Rowan, science and engineering majors are no strangers to the concept of romance as it parallels with creativity. Entering my final semester of college, I realize, much to my delight, engineers are also no strangers to the more traditional concept of romance. In fact, some engineers are, to say the least, remarkable romantics.

So, here’s a bouquet of Rowan engineering romances budding over winter break. Some are more traditional while others are a tad eccentric, but all have delivered happiness to the engineering friends I’ve come to know and love these past four years. Thankfully, I know the romance is only just beginning.

  1. One long-legged diva romanced by a black diamond ski trail
  2. One giggly girlfriend (finally!) engaged at Rockefeller Center
  3. One high school romance lovingly rekindled
  4. One set of high school sweethearts diving headfirst into graduate school
  5. One engineering catch romanced into the joy of playing the field
  6. One set of college sweethearts romancing their way into killer jobs
  7. One fantastic friend divinely romanced into an Ivy league PhD program
  8. One pair of professors wooed by the silky strings of the All South Jersey High School Orchestra at Pfleeger Hall
  9. One unsuspecting romantic swept off her feet by a dashingly persistent cadet

And, of course, last but not least, one new set of Rowan recruits romanced into engineering (and, between you and me, you haven’t got a clue how much romance you have in store…)

Brighid Burgin

MechEs mean business

December 14, 2011

Mechanical engineering blows my mind. I mean seriously, the mechEs chuck pumpkins every fall, build and race a baja race car every spring, and somehow still manage to study thermodynamics, mechanical design, heat transfer, vibrations, electronics, fluid mechanics… you get the idea.

Often considered the broadest of engineering disciplines, mechanical engineers work magic with machines, structures, devices, mechanical systems, and energy conversion systems. Embracing coursework from all branches of mathematics, physics, chemistry, and the engineering sciences, Rowan’s mechE students are experts on problem solving and engineering design. Plus, the mechanical engineering department is extremely proud of its extensive manufacturing facilities which enable students to build whatever they design.

So, if you’re interested in solid mechanics, fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, and mechanical design, then mechanical engineering at Rowan is the major for you.

*Special thanks to the senior mechE girls for helping me with this post!

Brighid Burgin

Angry birds, you’re goin’ down

December 7, 2011

Truth be told, if there’s one department here at Rowan that still boggles my mind, it’s the electrical and computer engineering department. Electronic and programming wizzes, the ECEs spend countless hours using their computer science and electrical engineering skills to design and build anything from radio receivers to virtual environments. Not to mention that every electrical and computer engineering major I’ve met here at Rowan is one of the most innovative and intelligent engineers around.

Spanning electrical engineering topics, like telecommunications and energy, to computer engineering topics, like computer hardware and software design, the electrical and computer engineering curriculum takes a hands-on, minds-on approach to engineering education. Whether embracing the challenges of electromagnetics or digital signal processing, data structures or nanotechnology, Rowan ECEs are constantly pushing the engineering envelope. Plus, Rowan’s student chapter of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) hosts the best Halo and Super Smash Bros tournaments ever! Not to mention Rowan IEEE participates each year in the Student Activities Conference, dominating the micromouse competition and winning first place in project showcase two years running. Last, but certainly not least, a few ambitious seniors are starting an IEEE automation and robotics society here at Rowan. Not too shabby, huh?

So, if you can’t get enough of artificial intelligence, information technology, robotics and control systems, electronics or any other slew of tech savvy topics, studying electrical and computer engineering here at Rowan could be your cup of tea! I mean, really, who doesn’t want to invent the next show-stopping iPhone app? Angry birds, you’re goin’ down.

*Special thanks to a few supportive electrical and computer engineering seniors for helping this “wannabe ECE” with her blog!

Brighid Burgin

Hard hats and steel-toed… heels?

November 26, 2011

As President of Engineers Without Borders, I consider myself a happily adopted child of the civil and environmental engineering department here at Rowan. And let me tell you, that’s an honor. Mastering infrastructure and energy all while protecting the environment, Rowan’s civil and environmental engineering students are the cream of the crop.

Long story short, civil and environmental engineering is one of the oldest engineering disciplines. For centuries civEs have designed and supervised the construction of our roads, bridges, buildings, irrigation systems, wastewater treatment facilities, housing developments, pretty much anything and everything you can imagine. Today, with the word “sustainability” on the tip of every engineer’s tongue, civil and environmental engineers are busy designing energy efficient buildings and wind and solar farms. Plus, here at Rowan, you can lose yourself in any number of extracurricular activities sponsored by the civil and environmental engineering department, including our Engineers Without Borders projects in El Salvador and The Gambia as well as the infamous steel bridge and concrete canoe competitions.

So, if you’re interested in saving the world as an environmental, structural, geotechnical, water resources or transportation engineer, Rowan’s civil and environmental department might just be your academic soul mate. After all, if you love physics and mathematics, what could be better than sporting a super sexy hard hat and steel toed boots (or heels!) while managing one of the nation’s, or maybe even one of the world’s, top infrastructure construction sites as a proud Rowan alum?

*Special thanks to the civil and environmental engineering juniors and seniors for helping this “honorary civE” with her blog!

Brighid Burgin

Do you believe in magic?

October 24, 2011

Believe or not, after three challenging and rewarding years, I’m a senior chemical engineering major and the world of chemical engineering is still magic!

But seriously folks, chemical engineering, in as few words as possible, is applying chemistry, mathematics and the natural sciences for large-scale production of a wide variety of products. From fuels, petrochemicals, plastics and polymers to pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, food products, and advanced materials… you name it, we chemical engineers make it and make it better!

Continually ranked among the nation’s top chemical engineering programs, Rowan’s chemE department is one of a kind. Whether falling in love with drug delivery research while working on a hands-on research clinic or finding yourself knee deep in high bay hijinks while working on a unit operations experiment, there’s  a special niche in our department for everyone. And guess what? Our professors and US News and World Report agree that little old Rowan is aptly ranked the second best chemical engineering program at a university with a primary focus on undergraduate education in the 2011 “U.S.News & World Report’s” America’s Best Colleges.

So, if you love chemistry and mathematics and see yourself diving into bioengineering, environmental engineering, food and beverage processing, petroleum and natural gas, alternative energy, polymers/materials, process control or any of the other countless chemical engineering specialties, then studying chemical engineering at Rowan is an excellent fit for you!

Brighid Burgin

To be or not to be…

October 15, 2011

… a chemical, civil and environmental, computer and electrical, or mechanical engineering major!?

Okay, so you know you want to be an engineer, but how do you decide which discipline of engineering is right for you, especially when you need to list your top and second choice engineering majors on your application to Rowan? Here’s how: doing your homework, figure out what makes each major unique, and then choose the field of engineering that strikes your fancy!

So, over the next few weeks I’ll be blogging about each of the engineering majors here at Rowan. From classes you’ll take to possible employers, I’ll help get you started. And don’t worry, I’ve got chemical engineering covered, but I’ll phone a friend when filling you in about civil and environmental, computer and electrical and mechanical engineering. After all, my Rowan friends are the experts!

Brighid Burgin

What makes Rowan’s COE tick?

February 28, 2011

Engineering is an art. Sure, we have plenty of equations and theories to help us out, but deep down, we engineering students are quirky, creative people with very diverse passions. On any given day in Rowan Hall, our professors see us dashing off from thermodynamics and electromagnetics courses for rehearsals, games, competitions, you name it. So, what do some of us engineering students do with our free time?

Well, since I’ve been at Rowan, I’ve met engineering students who are intramural street hockey champions, EMS heroes, video game junkies, chess monsters, photography experts, varsity athletes, mechanic geniuses, snowboarding masters, and, of course, top-notch students. Honestly, I don’t think there’s anything we engineers don’t do. And don’t get me started on our professors. From Shakespeare gurus to basketball fiends, our professors cover all of the bases.

So, when you think of engineering as a constructive art, Rowan’s COE is lucky to be home to so many students bringing such diverse life experiences to the drafting table. After all, the quality of what we design, from the definition the problem being solved to the final product’s sustainability, is influenced by our experiences, interests, and passions.

Brighid Burgin

Rowan’s “Amazing Race”

February 7, 2011

Boston, Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., La Ceiba, El Salvador, Orlando, Florida, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois and in a few weeks, Binghamton, New York and Portland, Maine.

I like to travel. More importantly, I like to travel with friends. And that’s exactly what we do in the College of Engineering.

Here at Rowan, engineering professional societies groom notorious jetsetters. At international and regional conferences, Rowan engineering students and professors present our cutting-edge inventions, research, and teaching methods to the world. These conferences and meetings are designed to help us stay current on the latest advances in core and emerging fields of engineering. The breath of these fields range from bioengineering and nanotechnology to process safety and robotics, and includes many topical conferences covering science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). In addition, Rowan students have traveled for concrete canoe and steel bridge competitions as well as Mini-baja races – not that you’d ever catch me behind the wheel of a “Fast and Furious” desert dart careening across the sand!

So, long story short, if you’ve ever wanted to travel, Rowan’s your rolling stone. You never know, but you might just catch the travel bug.

Brighid Burgin

Sun-baked and blistered

January 21, 2011

Sun-baked and blistered, I’m thankful for toilet paper, plumbing, and Ben & Jerry’s. More importantly, I’m thankful to be home, where clean water in just a faucet away and parasites aren’t even a blip on my radar.

This winter break, I spent ten days building biosand filters in La Ceiba, El Salvador (my second visit to this beautiful nation), working on our Engineers Without Borders (EWB) clean water project. Currently, the residents of La Ceiba drink water collected from shallow, hand dug, household wells and a local river. All of the community’s water sources are contaminated with harmful bacteria, leaving community members to suffer chronic illnesses associated with drinking unclean water. Over the 5 year period between 2002 and 2007, the community reported 34 children died as a result of drinking unclean water.

La Ceiba is a beautiful town of dirt roads and brick homes. Brimming with charity and happiness, the residents of La Ceiba warmly welcome us into every home. La Ceiba is, without a doubt, a community thankful for the blessing of clean water.

Our EWB clean water project in La Ceiba is just one example of how Rowan students bring sustainable engineering solutions to communities around the world. Rowan EWB hosts projects in El Salvador, The Gambia, and throughout South Jersey, empowering communities to achieve a higher quality of life. We are thankful for the opportunity to share ourselves with the people of La Ceiba. We are thankful for the College of Engineering’s continuous encouragement to design and implement sustainable engineering solutions to real life problems. And above all else, we are thankful that each year our organization welcomes bright young engineers into our international family, ensuring the success of the hands-on, multilingual engineering experiences that have changed our lives forever.

Brighid Burgin

Let’s talk turkey…

December 5, 2010

Nothing is better than a hands-on learning experience… except a hands-on engineering learning experience involving a home cooked Thanksgiving feast!

So please, allow me to talk some turkey and debunk two common engineering myths in one shot – yes, engineers do have fun and, yes, engineers do eat! Granted, sometimes we do spend long, frustrating hours in Rowan Hall and sometimes we do scrounge for food when tempting treats are left over from an event held in the Atrium, but I promise that on at least one day of the year we feast in honor of our success as engineers!

Long story short, each year the Chemical Engineering Department conducts a Thanksgiving lab where we look at the heat transfer of a turkey. We also check out the differences in heat transfer of a boiling potato, a potato baking in a natural convection oven, and a potato baking in a forced convection oven. All in all, we follow up what we’ve been learning during the semester with a delicious experiment. Oh, and if anyone has a heat transfer test involving stuffing, you know where to find us.

And yes, we all chow down together in the student study lounge.

Brighid Burgin

Bacteria under a microscope

November 22, 2010

Let’s be honest, interviews make us squirm just like bacteria under a microscope, especially at the end of the interview when we’re asked if we have any questions for the interviewer. So how can we avoid that sinking feeling in our stomachs as we scramble for questions to ask a potential employer? By preparing a few questions ahead of time! For example, we can ask…

What is a typical career path for an engineer in your company?

How is a career with your company better than with your competition?

What do you enjoy most about your job and working for this company?

Is your company involved in the community surrounding your operations? How so?

Is your company environmentally conscious? How so?

Does your company encourage further education, help pay for, or allow flexible work schedules to accommodate those continuing their education or have family commitments?

What are some of the qualities and skills you are looking for in the perfect candidate?

What are some of the assignments I can expect?

Are assignments team-oriented, hands-on learning opportunities?

What characteristics do successful employees in this company share?

Finally, if you really want to be bold, you can always include, “Show me the money!” but I wouldn’t recommend it. Well, at least not on the first interview.

Brighid Burgin

Workshops, career fairs, and travel, oh my!

October 30, 2010

Trust me, packing is a lot less painful when you’re prepping for an awesome trip. Can you think of a more exciting travel destination than Orlando, Florida, home of Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, and to my delight, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) National Conference 2010? In a nut shell, WE10 is the largest gathering of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. During the first weekend in November, seven other Rowan engineers and I will be hopping on a plane and flying off to Orlando for this exhilarating event.

Adding to the already high energy of the conference, this event offers unparalleled opportunities for inspiration. Throughout the conference, like at other professional engineering conferences held throughout the country, students and professionals will experience numerous unique career-shaping opportunities. From career fairs including representatives from the nation’s top ten engineering companies to workshops detailing everything from balancing life and career to how to prepare for graduate studies, this year’s SWE National Conference promises to be an electrifying event.

Besides, I might even make it over to Harry Potter World!

Brighid Burgin

This one time…

October 16, 2010

This one time, at Rowan, I rode a dinosaur. Pretty cool, huh?

I think it’s safe to assume that if you’re considering engineering at Rowan, you’ve probably heard of the South Jersey Technology Park (SJTP). Conveniently located off of Route 55, Rowan’s SJTP brings together promising entrepreneurs, technology business leaders, and cutting-edge researchers in one innovative, not to mention beautiful, environment. So, it’s no surprise that this little lady and a few of her friends from Engineers Without Borders (EWB) jumped at the opportunity for a meet and greet at the SJTP’s after presenting our work in El Salvador and Africa to the American Society of Civil Engineers this past spring.

So, long story short, after detailing our travels and demolishing our dinners, our little EWB gang wandered over to the CAVE. Thanks to a grant from the National Science Foundation, Rowan recently acquired the Cave Automated Virtual Environment (CAVE), an immersive, interactive, and navigable virtual reality room. Adequately describing the technology supporting the CAVE is a task I just can’t accomplish, but from my experiences with the CAVE, I know it as a room with screens on three walls and the floor that somehow uses mirrors, projectors, and 3D glasses to simulate a three-dimensional reality.

Of course, the CAVE is constantly updated to simulate different realities, but being your typical science fiction junkie, I choose to experience the virtual reality world of the dinosaurs. And so, during my adventures Rowan, I rode a dinosaur.

My final conclusion: dinosaurs are awesome. And, of course, so is the CAVE.

Brighid Burgin

Exam Prep

September 28, 2010

“Never show up to an exam without a calculator, and make sure the doggone thing works.”

With our first exam coming up on Friday, this was clearly an appropriate statement for my professor to make in class this morning. Was it the best recommendation I’ve ever heard on how to survive engineering exams? Probably not. Was it the funniest? You bet!

With the first round of exams creeping up on us unsuspecting engineering students, I’ve tried to put together some helpful tips on acing engineering exams.

  1. Remember your calculator and make sure your calculator has fresh batteries. It’s even a good idea to bring extra batteries to the exam. You won’t regret being prepared.
  2. While engineering paper might not be necessary, nearly all engineering professors require exams be completed in pencil. Also, take spare pencils just in case.
  3. Most professors provide solutions to all homework problems, quizzes, etc., either on BlackBoard or via email. Before the exam, make sure to review the official solutions, and if the exam is open note, make sure you bring all solutions with you. These solutions are well worth a review, as they are a sound engineering resource beyond your textbook and notes. They can give you an idea of exactly what the professor is looking for in terms of a well-presented problem solution.
  4. Leave early for exams, allowing for potential hold-ups or traffic jams that may make you late to your exam. It’s never fun beginning an exam in a frantic rush or with the clock well on its way to expiring.
  5. It may sound silly, but don’t forget to read the instructions and make sure you know exactly what the problem is asking you to do. You don’t want to waste time solving for a value you don’t need or using incorrect values.
  6. Engineering exams are not a test of memorization, so cramming the night before won’t work. Exams are designed to test your knowledge of engineering principles and your effort throughout the course. Don’t worry too much about calculator errors as your professor would rather see a clear, logical solution than a correct numerical value without any assumptions, general equations, or problem sketches.
  7. Most importantly, get a good night’s sleep the night before any exams! Your brain, body and GPA will thank you for it.

Brighid Burgin

College of Engineering Culture

September 18, 2010

Like every social establishment, the College of Engineering has its own culture. Eventually, the ins and outs of that culture are second nature to any engineering student. But, for new students, knocking on a professor’s door might seem intimidating and staking out a semi-permanent claim in the Rowan Hall computer lab may seem a tremendous feat.

So, here are my 10 simple rules to quickly embracing the Rowan engineering culture:

  1. Know when people are selling food in the Rowan Hall atrium. You’ll get awfully hungry if you attempt to spend 10 hours without eating. But, if you time things right, you can score some grub by taking advantage of the various engineering organizations that fundraise by selling bagels, pizza, baked goods, pulled pork sandwiches, and everything else you can think of to, you guessed it, other starving engineers.
  2. Get involved with engineering organizations. Whether it be your discipline-specific organization (ASME, AIChE, IEEE, ASCE, or NJWEA) or a more general organization (SWE, EWB, or Tau Beta Pi), this is a perfect opportunity to meet upperclassman and spend some time with professors. Plus, these organizations host great events and participate in exciting competitions!
  3. Try your hand at research as early as possible. You might not freshman, but professors are always looking for bright new students to get involved. Even as a freshman you can land a pretty sweet research job, so keep your ears open!
  4. Visit professors during office hours. Whether you need a bit more explanation on a concept from the day’s lecture or you’re struggling with a homework problem, put together a few good questions and go visit your professor. They’ll not only help you better understand the topic, they’ll be impressed by your motivation!
  5. Organize a study group. Homework is always easier with friends. As long as you can concentrate and won’t get distracted, working through practice problems together reinforces understanding and offers new problem-solving perspectives.
  6. Attend presentations by guest lecturers. The departments within the College of Engineering often have guest presenters discuss new technology, career experiences, etc. Check them out!
  7. Travel, travel, travel. If you have the opportunity to attend a conference, visit a local manufacturing site, or experience another university through study abroad, take it. You might need to juggle your schedule and plan ahead, but I promise, travel is always worth the effort, especially with the networking opportunities you’ll have throughout your trip.
  8. Give honest feedback. If you think a certain textbook might not be the best available or a course didn’t include enough hands-on experience, let the department know through the evaluations at the end of each semester. Your professors will appreciate your input, and the engineers coming up behind you will be very grateful.
  9. Don’t let challenges get you down. I know I’ve had some times when I felt so overwhelmed, I wondered if I was really cut out for engineering. If you never have this experience, great! But if you do ever need some encouragement, look for support from your friends in study groups and engineering organizations. I promise, someone will be able to work through that problem with you. We’re your family, remember? That’s what we’re here for.
  10. Give back. Whether you volunteer to introduce local elementary school students to science, engineering, technology, and math, you give a tour to a prospective student, or you sit on a question & answer panel during an open house, share your experiences with others. I’ll never forget when Brandon invited me to join his project group in Math for Engineering Analysis I because I don’t know anyone else in the class. Be that friend for someone else. Who knows, you might even end up being blog buddies!

Brighid Burgin

“Engineers can’t blog.”

September 5, 2010

“Engineers can’t blog.”

Alright, so no one’s actually ever told me that, but when I was approached to blog for Rowan’s College of Engineering, I immediately thought of the steadfast stereotype that engineers can’t write. Of course, this must be because we’re calculator-toting, acid/base titrating brainiacs, right?

Not on Rowan’s watch!

Seriously, though, what’s the point of having some chemE student blog about her life as an aspiring engineer? Hopefully, over the course of my “journalism” experience, I’ll give you a glimpse into the energizing, not to mention ever-evolving, engineering experience at Rowan University. I’ll sneak you into lectures, whisk you off to conferences, romance you into research, and introduce you to the family.

After all, that’s our goal – to one day welcome you into the Rowan University College of Engineering family.

Brighid Burgin