The Pre-Engineering Program (PREP) and the Transfer Pre-Engineering Program both have application deadlines coming up. PREP’s application is due June 1 and T-PREP’s is due June 15. Today we had the programs’ director, Tiffany Reardon, in for a chat about the program. She explains for whom the program will be the most useful, what the schedule looks like and what is new about it this year. We also have a couple of interviews with current students who were part of PREP and T-PREP to give you an idea of how excited they were to be part of the program and why they think it is worth the time to apply. If you have more questions or concerns please email Tiffany Reardon.
Important Links for PREP and T-PREP:
- Pre-Engineering Program website
- Pre-Engineering Program application
- Transfer Pre-Engineering Program website
- Transfer Pre-Engineering Program application
Laura Vogt: Hi I’m Laura Vogt and thank you so much for joining us again for our podcast, The Not-So-Secret Guide to Being a Berkeley Engineer. And today I’m really excited to introduce Tiffany Reardon, Tiffany, why don’t you introduce yourself.
Tiffany Reardon: Hi, This is Tiffany Reardon I work in the Center for Access to Engineering Excellence.
Laura: What is your role exactly in the Center?
Tiffany: So, I’m part of the programs team, My official title is Assistant Director of Retention programs. What does that mean? Basically, I run programs that onboard students into Berkeley and make sure that they have a successful transition.
Laura: So today we wanted to talk a little bit about PREP and T-PREP, can you tell us about that program?
Tiffany: Absolutely. So incoming engineering students probably received a postcard and/or an email inviting them to these programs. So I’ll start with PREP. PREP is a program for incoming freshmen. It is a two-and-a-half week program where students come, they live on campus and we focus on chemistry, Chem 1A and Math 1A and 1B. Those are courses that our engineering students will take in their first semester, with the exception of our EECS students. Now our EECS students will not take Chem 1A but they will take CS 61A and we actually have a primer course for 61A for our EECS students.
Laura: And so what’s the difference between PREP and T-PREP then?
Tiffany: T-PREP is our version for transfer students, so community college transfer students will come to Berkeley. They will have already taken their math and chemistry and they will dive right into their major, some lower division classes depending on what community college they went to, but they will start taking their engineering classes. So for the T-PREP program, students will take typically MATLAB, CS 61A, discrete math, thermodynamics, solids. So we actually have strands or tracks, if you will for each of the different majors, so students will get a glimpse of what they’ll be taking in fall and spring semester through T-PREP as well.
Laura: And so how are the programs structured?
Tiffany: So both programs are full-time programs, so, students come to PREP for example they have class in the morning. They have math and chem or math and CS, they start at 8:30 and they run until 5pm and then students have some free time and then dinner. And then in the evenings they’ll study together. For T-PREP they start 9 o’clock, we have a session in the am and then they’ll go right into either their CS class or EE MATLAB class and then they’ll do tours and things like that in the afternoon. In addition, both programs have a professional development component, which I think is really useful, especially for incoming students because as soon as you arrive on campus you’ll notice that recruiters will be you know recruiting for internships next summer, so the benefit of these programs is that students that are in these programs when they finish will have a nice polished resume and they’ll be ready for the career fairs.
Laura: And is there a cost to the students for these?
Tiffany: No, these programs are absolutely free. We provide the meals, we provide all the materials. Students who are in PREP get a free math textbook so that saves some money right there. Housing is free. For our T-PREP students, some of our students won’t actually live on campus. We have a fair number of students that stay in apartments, so if you aren’t living on campus, you can still do T-PREP. We’ll give you a meal card, so you’ll get all the meals but it’s not a requirement of the program. Cost 100 percent free. We get sponsorship from various companies that invest in our engineering students so we’re able to provide these. We’re actually expanded. This year we’re doing 60 for T-PREP and 50 for PREP.
Laura: Oh, that’s fantastic. That’s quite a few students for each program. How do you determine which classes each student gets assigned to for PREP.
Tiffany: Ok, so for PREP what we look at is we look at the classes that students have taken in high school and so we’ve selected Math 1A and B, because the thought is that the students who come into PREP they’ll take 1A or 1B in the fall and then they’ll take physics in spring or they might take physics you know typically in their freshman year. But what we do is look at those classes and we look at classes that students would benefit from having a cohort of students and those are the classes that we’ve decided would be best for students. For the PREP students that are going to be taking physics in spring, they’ll benefit from being a part of a cohort after PREP in the spring semester. So they’ll know like 25 other students in their class, or however many students in that particular class, but the program doesn’t end at the end of the summer. It actually goes on into the academic year and then of course we always have activities for students, parties, we have end of year events, and networking events throughout the year.
Laura: So its not just the three-week program, it’s actually something that continues throughout the year.
Tiffany: It is throughout the year, same for T-PREP. For T-PREP, how do we select the classes. So what we do is look at the classes our incoming students have already taken at the community college and we tailor it to the students from different majors. So for example, as I mentioned earlier EECS students will likely take 61A, so we have a 61A primer course. Students that have taken MATLAB at their community college, even though they’ve taken it, students have told me that they have learned more in the MATLAB T-PREP then they could possible imagine. So it is extremely useful.
Laura: And so this year, the PREP you’re actually starting a new aspect to it, where they’ll be working with the Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation, can you tell me a little bit what that is going to entail?
Tiffany: Yes, we are excited about a partnership that we have. Fun Fact – Professor Scott Moura who will be working with the students was a PREP alum, so it’s really a nice way to partner. Scott Moura is going to be doing a design studio with students and students will work in teams of four. They’ll work on a design project. At the end of the PREP program they’ll do a presentation and a pitch to industry and students will be given design studio time during the program, so that is already built in. Again all the equipment is free, all the training is free and students will have a really nice design project that they can say they worked on, even before they’ve taken any classes at Cal.
Laura: And so if someone is interested in the PREP program, how are you deciding who is going to be part of it?
Tiffany: So that is a great question. So unfortunately we only have 50 slots in PREP, so we are really looking for students that are going to be taking Math 1A or 1B in the fall. If students are starting off in 53, 54 then they wouldn’t really be a great candidate for the program. So really again students that are taking 1A and 1B should really look into apply for the program. Also students that are taking Chem, if they’re non-EECS they’ll likely be taking Chem. If they’ve AP’d out of Chem then unfortunately they wouldn’t be a good candidate for the program, so really that’s the main thing. But again we do only have 50 slots and we do have to limit it to students. Another thing that we look at is the student’s availability at their high school. So you know we have a number of students that come and maybe their high school didn’t offer a lot of AP classes, so we look at that as well. So if you are coming from a school that had limited AP offerings we do encourage you to apply to the PREP program.
Laura: And so on the T-PREP side, how do you decide on what students to take for that program?
Tiffany: So, for T-PREP it is a bit different. So what we look for in T-PREP, first of all we look for students who attended community colleges that do not have a lot of engineering courses. So we know that there are some community colleges sin the state that the highly recommended courses are plentiful at their community college. So a student who attended a community college that does not have a lot of these engineering courses, they would be a great candidate. We also look at students from different areas. So maybe we have a student where only one person is coming from that community college. I can guarantee you if we only have one person from that community college, the likely hood is that they will be accepted in the program because aside from the individual student experience we also want to foster a relationship with that community college to get more students from that school. So I’ll give you a good example. One year I had 50 students apply from foothill college and in addition we had one student come from Santa Barbara City College, well, I picked the Santa Barbara City College because then that student would have a harder time building community and transitioning. And also schools from out of the area, students from Southern California likely would benefit from the program because part of T-PREP is as well as getting academically transition the social transition. And just trying to transition to relocating to Northern California. A number of our students that are in T-PREP are non-traditional age, re-entry students, we have a lot of student parents. The great thing about T-PREP is that if you are student parent, you can meet other students that have kids as well and families. It’s just nice to be able to provide that. That is not something that students would not typically know like who else is a parent.
Laura: So for both of these programs we are asking people to apply, when are the application deadlines?
Tiffany: The application deadline for PREP is June 1st and the application deadline for T-PREP is June 15th.
Laura: And both of the applications are available online, you just have to check us out at engineering.berkeley.edu/prep or engineering.berkeley.edu/tprep. And we’ll have both of those links on our webpage, welcomengineer.berkeley.edu. And before we leave you today, we’ve interviewed some of our past PREP and T-PREP students, so we’ve got some great quotes from them, letting you know why they liked the program and why they suggest that you should apply if you are thinking about applying.
Divyashish Kumar: My name is Divyashish Kumar and I’m an Electrical Engineering and Computer Science major at Berkeley and I’m representing T-PREP today. It is an amazing opportunity for transfer student to kind of get an idea of what Berkeley is. When I came to Berkeley I really had no idea what kind of classes I would be taking and what kind of projects I would have, how much work I would have to do a day. And I didn’t really have a set guideline of what I was going to do when I got here. And T-PREP helped me exactly with that. It allowed me to build a connection of students that were dedicated and wanting to do as well as I wanted to do when I came to UC Berkeley. And from there I was able to get a study group and get an idea of how to study in order to do as well as I wanted to do when I came here. And it really exposed me to different types of people and different types of things that I was interested in as well.
Elizabeth Rodriguez: Hi, my name is Elizabeth Rodriguez, I’m a senior student in the civil and environmental department. I did T-PREP and ES-squared. It was extremely helpful because some of the classes that I take, some of the T-PREPs were in the same classes I was taking. So it was extremely to have someone that I could talk to and then get along, and do homework together. It was very, very helpful.
Carlos Jimenez: Hi my name is Carlos Jimenez and I’m a civil engineering and I’m a first year at UC Berkeley. It helped me a lot personally, because in high school I came from a low-income school so we didn’t have as many advantages as other students did, so, PREP helped me learn what college is like, considering I had never actually seen or noticed what college life was. And it helped me make a lot of friends that I can rely on now, anytime I need to study or I just need help with anything.
Miriam Melendez: Hi my name is Miriam Melendez and I’m a first year mechanical engineering student here at UC Berkeley. PREP helped me make a base of friends that I can rely on once school started, because that was the biggest difficulty that I had once I was here and living in the dorms. It also got me used to taking care of myself. During those two weeks you already have to do your laundry, you have to feed yourself, you have to get to class on-time because we start really early. So, it definitely helps you get into that rhythm after taking a whole summer off after high school.
Laura: I am so excited that we had those students come in and tell us what they liked about PREP and T-PREP. It sounds like a fantastic program that I think anyone who’s in the classes you were talking about earlier or wants to get in a cohort and that it is a year long program. Thank you so much Tiffany for talking with us today.
Tiffany: Thank you. We definitely hope that those of you listening apply to the program. Something that I didn’t mention but is a very cool perk of the program is that if you do participate in PREP or T-PREP, you’ll get a stole from the program at graduation. A lot of students proudly wear that stole, so we hope to see you in the fall.
Laura: Thank you so much.