This week on the (Not So) Secret Guide to Being a Berkeley Engineer, we are taking a look at what to expect in your first year at Cal from the freshman perspective. Between juggling classes, navigating a new environment, and making new friends and study groups, jumping into Berkeley Engineering can seem daunting.
- Make an appointment with your ESS adviser beginning July 5th
- Tutoring schedule at Center for Access to Engineering Excellence
Vanessa:Hey everyone. So I’m Vanessa I’m from Bakersfield, California and I’m going into my fourth year here at Cal as a civil engineering major.
Laura Vogt: And Giovanni?
Giovanni: Hello I’m Giovanni and I’m also from Central Valley, Fresno, California and it’s going to be my third year studying mechanical engineering.
Laura Vogt: Vanessa can you tell us what the hardest part of the transition between moving here from Bakersfield. And is there anything that you would have done to make it easier.
Vanessa:So I think the hardest part for me was leaving my family. I have a very close relationship with them so not seeing them everyday made me feel homesick. To help with this I tried to avoid being alone as much as possible and PREP really helped with this by allowing me to find a group of students I can relate to. And you don’t feel comfortable hanging around and sitting with.
Laura Vogt: Giovanni, how about you.
Giovanni: The hardest part of me was getting a different mindset. Over the summer I decided to get a job to hopefully raise money to just make it easier for me in college and so I was just working and working and really not focusing on any classes or any school so I sort of forgot about school and got to habit. And so I decided to do PREP to help me transition into that mindset and to help me pretty much become a student again.
Laura Vogt: And you tell me a little bit more both of you mentioned PREP. What is PREP?
Giovanni: Well prep it’s a pre engineering program and I only found about it because, I believe it was at CalSO or student orientation. The day of I was told by the director and I just signed up the day day of, I’m glad I did it because it’s just at the time I was a two week course, it was free, they offered housing and food and all that and they just pretty much taught you the basic courses which was math and physics at the time. And it was just a whole bunch of work and just trying to prepare you for the first month at Berkeley.
Laura Vogt: So we had an interview with Tiffany Reardon, who works for the Center for Access to Engineering Excellence, a couple of weeks ago and one of the things that she talked about was preparing for summer. And she said that students should go back and review their math classes that they did and maybe take a look at what your classes are taken. She even talked about if you hadn’t learn how to code before to maybe go online and look at some free classes or some test banks or anything along those lines. So would you suggest a student do that do you think that would have made sense to you Vanessa to help with your summer preparation?
Vanessa: I would say yeah do anything that might prepare you for your first semester courses whether this be math or physics or chemistry. Just do anything that will prepare you for the class that you feel least comfortable with. So again if it’s math go ahead and go to Khan Academy or anything anything else online that might help you prepare for that calculus class you are taking. And if you’re doing prep Well then prep is going to prepare you for your first semester courses.
Laura Vogt: And do either of you work on campus?
Giovanni: Yes. I work at the CAEE and that stands for the Center for Access to Engineering Excellence. And pretty much is just a room that offers tutoring. They have computers that offer programs that you’ll need later on in your academic career. Like for upper division courses. And they also have a lending library and I’ve use their books multiple times over the semesters and I’ve even checked out a laptop from there and it definitely helps.
Laura Vogt: Have you ever used any of that tutoring service?
Giovanni: Oh yeah. Especially for like last minute questions or there’s always a tutor that could answer your question. There’s always somebody there. And even if there’s not a tutor at the time, everybody in there is pretty much in the same boat and in engineering classes and if they’re not taking the classes at the time, they’ve already taken it so just asking a random person in the room could definitely help you with whatever problems you have.
Vanessa: So I also work at the CAEE and I agree there’s just so many resources there. Yeah. So basically just go whenever you need help with literally anything whether it’s your academics or something personal. We had advisers there to help you. So take advantage of this research that offer
Laura Vogt: And are either one of you involved in any clubs or student groups here on campus?
Vanessa: So we’re both involved in HES club which stands for Hispanic Engineers and Scientists and apart from that, I’m also a undergraduate research assistant and I basically just help a Ph.D. candidate with this research.
Giovanni: I took part in this club it’s called human powered vehicle. And my point was to sort of build and manufacture parts where they’re like it’s sort of looks like a bicycle. But anyways, I actually got machine shop training from Etcheverry and that process was just very cool and interesting and I wouldn’t have been able to get that training if I wasn’t part of that club.
Laura Vogt: And we do you have notes of how students could figure out like how did you decide to be part of the age by human powered vehicle.
Giovanni: I kind of got an e-mail saying oh we need people to join and I wanted to do FSAE which is where they build a car with the motor. But hearing from other people it’s like when you first started off you don’t really do much except like count parts. But I guess in the human power vehicle you’re more involved and you actually take part. And I actually saw that as I was given training like from the very beginning.
Laura Vogt: So you found out about it though through an email.
Vanessa: So you don’t ignore your emails and then you want to get involved with anything. Ask around ask upperclassman and they’ll connect you with whatever you’re interested in.
Laura Vogt: Vanessa what would you say has been your most enjoyable course so far?
Vanessa: I would say C 60. I think the Course is something like structure and properties of civil engineering materials. I think I liked it because in lab we had like a little competition going on to see. We made it like concrete cylinders and we competed to see who’s specimen would withstand the most load. My group didn’t win but it was a fun experience. That’s my favorite class.
Laura Vogt: Giovanni, what was your favorite class.
Giovanni: I’ve enjoyed multiple classes. I really liked solid works because you pretty much make something on the computer and you get to 3D print that on your own. I also like Physics 7B which is like magnetism and electromagnets and they’re just really cool. Finding out like just what you can create with electricity and then ME C85 which is statics and structures and that helped me like just see things differently like I would stare at a bridge and just look at where forces are going and I would never think of that before. But now just stare at structures now because of that class.
Laura Vogt: And so we’re part of Engineering Student Services where we have our academic advisers. Have either of you met with your academic advisors and would you suggest others do it if you have?
Vanessa: Yes. I’ve met with my adviser, Jane Paris. She’s a civil engineering major and I think also industrial. I’ve met with her so many times because I had so many questions and I would definitely recommend all incoming freshmen meet up with there advisers. Any questions you have and they can answer here. I’m sure they’ll be able to direct you to somebody that can. That’s another resource that you should definitely take advantage of.
Laura Vogt: All of our incoming students can start making appointments with their advisors beginning July 5th. So it sounds like that’s something that you should definitely look into doing if you haven’t already.
Giovanni: Yeah I would definitely recommend that as well teachers. They will be able to give you a more step by step guide as what you should do to prepare since that is their job to help you.
Laura Vogt: You could go back and do one thing differently your first year as an incoming student, what would you change or what would you do.
Vanessa: So for me I think I would take care of not only my physical health but also my mental health. You know when there’s so much going on it’s easy for stress to interfere with your studies and you don’t take a moment to meditate or find whatever works for you to manage that stress. It can negatively affect your studies and nobody wants that. So for all the listeners that are incoming freshmen you’re you know learning how to code. Go ahead and also learn how to de-stress.
Laura Vogt: Thank you both so much for taking the time to come and talk to us today. Is there anything else that you want to add that you didn’t get a chance to say.
Vanessa: I think I’ve said it before but use the CAEE, there’s so many resources out there
Giovanni: Don’t be scared to ask any questions. There’s always going to feel like, oh I’m probably the only one who doesn’t understand and the rooms going to be completely quiet. But ask your question and you’ll see how many others are going to nod their head and be just like you and just make you more comfortable to speak to your instructor at the moment.
Laura Vogt: Did you have problems forming study groups do you have study groups that you work with regularly or does it change for every class that you’re in?
Giovanni: It changes for every class because every student has a different plan or different schedule it’s like a plan to take this course and another student will plan to take the two semesters from now. So your friend that you did have a study group with like last semester, you guys won’t be able to do it this semester. And again PREP pretty much all of my study groups have been with students from PREP or friends from PREP and CAEE actually offers a little room to be set aside for you and your study groups and that’s where I got the majority of mine.
Vanessa: So for me I would say my first year as I did struggle to form study groups and I think in the end we would all just go and study at CAEE and we would find each other there and we would form the study groups. We saw that everybody was there. But because of everybody’s different schedule it was a little hard to form study groups when we actually planned it. But yeah good to the CAEE.
Laura Vogt: Thank you so much. And thank you everyone for tuning in this week for the not so secret Guide to Being a Brickley engineer. And we’ll talk to you again next week. Thank you.