With four different types of advisers in the College of Engineering (Engineering Student Services, Department, Faculty and Peer), it can get confusing as to which person would serve your purpose better. In today’s episode, we have three guests to discuss which adviser you should see (ESS, Department or Faculty) based your needs and/or questions. Please join us as we talk with Associate Dean for Students Lisa Pruitt, Engineering Services Adviser Joey Wong and EECS Department Adviser Andrea Mejia Valencia about the services they offer, how they can support your college experience and how to contact them.
- Make an appointment with your ESS Adviser: engineering.berkeley.edu/ess
- Department Advisers
- Email the ESS Peer Advisers or visit them in 230 Bechtel Engineering Center, Monday-Thursday, 9am-5pm; Friday, 10am-5pm.
- Find out about your courses: classes.berkeley.edu
- Getting into CS classes link
- Getting into EE classes link
LAURA VOGT: It’s Monday, and that means another episode of the (Not So) Secret Guide to Being a Berkeley Engineer. My name is Laura Vogt and I’m the Associate Director of Marketing and Communications in the College of Engineering. Today I have three fantastic guests to discuss three types of advising in the College of Engineering: Engineering Student Services, department and faculty. These are the folks that are here to support you during your time as a Berkeley Engineer. Let’s begin our introductions with Lisa Pruitt. Can you tell us about yourself and your role in the College of Engineering?
LISA PRUITT: Good morning. So my new role is the associate dean for students so I’ll be meeting a number of you very shortly. So welcome to cal. I am a professor of mechanical engineering and bioengineering. I’ve been on the faculty since 1993. My research area is medical devices for load bearing applications. So essentially we make parts to fix shoulders, hips, knees and spine. I teach courses on medical device design, polymer engineering, mechanical behavior materials, and my passions are leadership.
LV: Awesome, thank you so much for being here today. And next we have Andrea Mejia Valencia, why don’t you tell us about yourself?
ANDREA MEJIA VALENCIA: Yes, hi everyone! I’m an EECS Undergraduate Adviser. I’ve been in this role for almost 2 years and I love working with our EECS students and I also meet with prospective students. And I do manage faculty advising, which is a really cool thing that we will be talking about.
LV: Thank you for being here today! And we’ll end our introductions with Joey Wong. Joey, what is your role in the College of Engineering and anything we should know about you?
JOEY WONG: Hi. Yes I’m Joey I’m one of the great ESS advisers. I’ve been in the College for about four years now and before that I’ve been on the Berkeley campus at least a decade before that. So, I’m a Berkeley native and I’m a local, so if you have any questions about anything Berkeley just let me know.
LV: Thank you and thank you again everyone for coming in today. One of the things that we get a lot of students asking about, because we have three different advisers for them to go to is, which adviser do I see when? How do I make this choice? So let’s start with an overview of our ESS advisers with Joey. The ESS advisers are who the students have been working with, especially this specially this month because of Golden Bear Advising, so they’ve gotten a little bit of an introduction to you. Can you tell us a little bit more about why students visit you, why they’re contacting you?
JW: Yeah. Definitely ESS advisers, we’re broken down by major and you’re assigned an ESS depending on your major and your alpha. We help identify strengths and challenges to develop your academic plan and allow you to achieve goals while also completing your degree requirements. Some of the things that you might come in to talk to us about would be any possible petitions for exceptions or substitutions, if you’re considering a change of major or even a double major or simultaneous degree with another major in another college. That’s definitely something you want to come in and talk to an ESS adviser about. Any questions about policies or procedures, graduation or degree progress, and things like that. We can definitely help you with. If you’re interested or thinking about studying abroad during your time here, that’s definitely something you can come in as well. If any late actions, such as dropping courses late, come up, if you’ve missed any deadlines and things like that, the first step would be to come in and let us know and we can talk about possible options and go from there.
LV: Some folks might already be thinking about changing majors, especially our first year students as coming in. Is there a timeline that you’re suggesting. Like hold off on thinking about that right now at least get through for a semester?
JW: Yeah. No student can change their major during their first semester. At the very least you need to complete at least one semester before you can start that petition process to change majors. So the first step would be to you know come in and have an appointment with your ESS adviser, probably you know towards the beginning in the fall or middle of the fall to let them know that hey you know you’re unsure and you’re thinking about considering a change of major and this is how you want to structure your you know program plan and see how see how that fits.
LV: And that’s not for transfer students all right?
JW: Correct. Transfer students do not have the option of changing majors.
LV: Okay. Thank you so much. And Andrea, can you tell us a little bit more about how department advisers are there to support our students?
AMV: Yes, there’s a lot of things we do. One of them is scheduling. We have two people that manage scheduling on the EE side, one will be another EECS undergraduate adviser, her name is Maya Rivera and then the CS classes we have Cindy Connors who is the one that manages all of that. If you have any early enrolling issues or anything related to scheduling, they’ll be able to help. We also have minors. We have both the EECS minor and the CS minor, so we can talk to you about requirements, how the application process happens and how to declare it. We also have an honors program. There’s a lot of information on our website about all of this but we can also talk to you about what the requirements are, the application process and so on. We also work closely with student groups in the major, so like EECS major. We can talk to you about the classes and all that stuff. In addition to that we have an external relations team in the department that offers info sessions with different companies. So if you’re interested in finding an internship or just networking, that’s something that we offer as well. Like I said, I organize faculty advising, so I am the one that does it every fall semester and spring semester. That happens right before enrollment appointments begin. We can also talk to you about schedule planning. Sometimes students want to schedule for the whole four years ahead, so we can definitely do that and know that there is room for changes but we can help you plan with that. If you’re thinking about studying abroad, so we can plan for a semester to make sure that you have enough time to do all that. And also we can talk to you about grad school. We have grad advisers we can refer you to. We also do help you with research, if you want to talk about research and how to get started. That’s something that you can meet us for
LV: And you’re talking a little about the minors and if you have scheduling problems. Is that something for scheduling problems, do they need to be EECS students in order to give you a call if they’ve got questions?
AMV: EECS students can definitely email us or come visit us in 205 Cory for EE scheduling. If you’re in another major, if you happen to be maybe mechanical engineering, our EECS classes if they’re lower division and upper division, we have a specific seat reservations for our students and also the students in the Letters and Science Computer Science major. So you don’t get priority for example for upper division classes, only EECS students and L&S students get priority. So everybody else is gonna be automatically waitlisted. So we’re just gonna tell you, you’re just gonna have to wait until the adjustment period begins and that’s when the waitlist starts being process but you can definitely reach out to reach out to us. But that’s what the process we have.
LV: And just a reminder how did they find out where those reserve caps are?
AMV: Yes. So you can go into classes.berkeley.edu and search for the classes and then it will tell you specifically how many reserve seats are for each category. If it’s kind of unclear what those mean. You can also go to eecs.berkeley.edu and you can search “Getting into CS classes” or “Getting into EE Classes” and we have a page explaining the different breakdowns.
LV: And we’ll have those links on our welcomengineer.berkeley.edu site to make sure it’s easy for you to find them. And we talked a little bit about you being the person in EECS that matches folks up with the faculty adviser and, I know each department handles it a little differently, but what does that process look like in EECS?
AMV: Yes. So every semester I help faculty, I reach out to them, and I help them schedule a one-hour group faculty advising sessions. So a majority choose to do group advising, which is really cool. A few, maybe like less than a handful, choose to do like individual advising. And so students can sign up for a specific time for those, but the majority like I said are group sessions and those happen over two weeks. So it’s usually the week before enrollment begins and the first week of enrollment and that is going to be October for fall and April for spring semester.
LV: Why would you say students are typically matched or how do they get matched with a faculty adviser?
AMV: The good thing I think that we offer students is that they get to choose their faculty adviser based on interest, let’s say, or what area of research they’re doing that students are interested in. So the process to begin to sign up for faculty advising sessions begins about one to two weeks before they begin. And the students that have already participated before are able to roll over to their old adviser but they also have the option to unselect that adviser and select a new one. Then the new students are able to sign up for sessions usually the Wednesday before they begin. And like I said they can choose any available adviser based on their area of interest or research or any criteria that they want to. Maybe they’re taking their class next semester or they’re thinking about it and so they can sign up for that faculty session. It is important that students know that is first come, first serve. So maybe those faculty that are more popular let’s say might get like their sessions might get felt really quickly. Students have that liberty to choose whoever they want to meet with.
LV: Do you send them a notice of when like reminders and things for when to sign up?
AMV: Yes, it is really important to check your Berkeley email because sometimes students miss when the system opens. So I open it Wednesday at 10 a.m. and they’re like – Oh, I missed it and I’m not in a session. Please check your email. You’ll definitely know ahead of time. I’ll send you emails about it.
LV: Excellent. And that leads us to Lisa, one of our faculty advisers. So what should a student look for when matching with the faculty adviser and why would a student visit with you?
LP: Usually when students come to see us for faculty advising they’re looking for some specific information, some mentoring, some career, and sometimes even life guidance. They may seek information about specialty courses or elective courses that are aligning with their personal interests. If we have someone that is interested in biomechanics or biomaterials, they might reach out to me and I can guide them to the best courses in mechanical engineering, bioengineering, materials science, EECS. They might come see us for research opportunities, not only in our lab, but depending on where they see their career trajectory, they may seek others that we collaborate with that we could guide them toward. And of course establishing that key relationship with the faculty. When you’re thinking about when you may need a letter of recommendation going forward, whether that’s for an internship or for graduate school. I also have a lot of conversations about that graduate school path. What does that look like? What are my choices? What’s the difference between a master’s and a PhD? Why would I want one versus the other? And oftentimes they want to know my path. How did I get where I’m at and what are the options for them as they seek out their lives in engineering path for themselves.
LV: That personal story part of it that makes it a little bit more real. When you talk about trying to find these research opportunities and things that’s not necessarily in your lab, do you have suggestions for them of how they could do maybe a little bit of research before they come to you?
LP: So one thing I might suggest as they read a few papers and then from there we can talk about faculty that they should seek out and see if they could visit their lab or maybe visit a research group meeting, learn a little bit more and then speak to that faculty adviser in more depth about opportunities.
LV: What’s the best way for them to maybe get to know more about faculty here on campus?
LP: Find the office hours for the faculty you take courses with and for the faculty that are of interest to you because of maybe some personal story you think aligns with yours or because there’s something in their research realm that resonates for you. And I have a lot of students that come to me in office hours that are not there because they’re in my course, they’re there because they just have an interest in learning more about what I do.
LV: Do you have ideas or suggestions for students when they come to your office hours to help start the conversation maybe or do you just have an open – just come in and we’ll figure it out?
LP: My personal path is that we have you come to a couple of group meetings and get a flavor of what we do in the lab and see if that resonates on a personal level for the individual students. Of course you can go to faculty’s websites, get a sense of what goes on in that lab. I think most students are a little nervous about knocking on the door and having that conversation, so office hours we all offer a set of office hours each week. That’s a time you could come and visit in person. You can reach out to the faculty by email and ask if there is a time that you could come and meet with them or if there’s a grad student or undergraduate in their lab that they could speak with.
LV: Oh OK. And I know our big thing is use the faculty hours, there they’re, there for you there to support you, Don’t be intimidated.
LP: That’s correct.
LV: I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our ESS Peer Advisers. Sometimes students just want to talk with another student and get their perspective on how to juggle classes, study effectively, manage time, or how to find enrichment opportunities. Our ESS peer advisers support our students by answering questions like how to drop a class or choose an elective, and they can tell you all about life in their particular major. Peer advisers provide general information to engineering undergraduates about university and college requirements and procedures concerning registration, deadlines, research and leadership opportunities, student organizations, campus resources and special events. Peer advisers also meet with prospective students and lead workshops throughout each semester. And our peer advisers will be available beginning the first day of classes, August 28 in Engineering Student Services, 230 Bechtel Engineering Center, Monday – Thursday, 9am-5pm and Friday 10am-5pm. You can also send them an email at email@example.com, one of our peer advisers will be answering questions throughout the summer.
To wind down our discussion today is there anything you wanted to add about being a faculty adviser and what students should do?
LP: I think most important is to make use of those office hours and reach out and meet your faculty and enjoy being at Cal.
LV; I like that idea, just enjoy being here. And Andrea anything for department advisers?
AMV: Yes, the EECS advisers are located in 205 Cory Hall and students and prospective students can schedule an in-person or a phone appointment with us berkeleyeecs.youcanbook.me or firstname.lastname@example.org.
LV: And I’m going to add a link on our welcomengineer.berkeley.edu of all the other email addresses for our department advisers for all the other departments that we’ve got, to make sure that Andrea doesn’t get every email. And Joey, how do you want to wrap up for ESS advisers, how to make appointments and things along those lines?
JW: Yeah, I guess that the best advice would be just to come in. I mean we get students who come in their first semester and then we don’t see them again until their last semester which is we’re just totally fine. We’re okay with that. But you know we encourage and we want to meet you. And so we encourage you to come in even if there might not be too many issues, just to establish that relationships that we get to know you and you get to know us. Making an appointment is super easy. You just go to engineering.berkeley.edu and under the Student Services tab there’s a big make an appointment with your adviser box that you just can’t miss. What you don’t do is, you don’t go through CalCentral to make an appointment with us.
So just go to our website engineering.berkeley.edu and you’ll get there.
LV: Thank you again Lisa, Andrea and Joey for stopping by today and giving our students a better understanding of all forms of advising support that we have readily available for them. I’ll have a list of links available online at welcomengineer.berkeley.edu. Thank you for tuning in to the (Not So) Secret Guide to Being a Berkeley Engineer, talk to you next time!