Listed below are some notable initiatives that EDAB has tackled. By nature, these projects contain sensitive information; if you are interested in learning more, please contact us and we can provide you with our full White Paper or Deliverable on that topic. If you already have access to all our work, you will find everything hosted here.
As many projects are still embargoed, some ideas you may have might dovetail into projects currently underway. Please reach out via the website form if you have any useful thoughts, and we’ll get back to you within 24 hours.
Syllabus and Grading Clarity
Students have remarked that when adding a course on PennInTouch, syllabi are often not included. This makes it more difficult to choose suitable courses, or to prepare for them. Similarly, students also remark that course grading takes them by surprise, leaving them with a grade that they did not expect. EDAB is working to improve the availability of syllabi and the transparency of grading.
EDAB is looking into ways that freshman orientation can be improved to better help engineers adjust to life at Penn. This includes social events, major-specific information dissemination, or even advice from upperclassmen on how to thrive at Penn Engineering.
Freshman/Sophomore Research Opportunities
Recognizing that searching for research and internship opportunities is often stressful and complicated, EDAB hopes to improve accessibility to key resources that can help students in this area. This includes access to cover letter samples, helpful links that students can consult, or descriptions of programs that are available to students.
EDAB is currently investigating the reasons why Engineers choose the classes that they do. Through this, we hope to uncover insight on phenomena such as the pressure for freshman to get into Wharton, whether Engineers are given enough opportunities to explore, and whether engineers are well prepared for life after college.
Pre-med/Pre-law Advising for Engineers
While Pre-Med/Pre-Law students in the College have specific advisors they can consult to help them work through their requirements and provide advice, Engineers do not have similar resources in the Engineering school. EDAB aims to improve access to such advice through improving the quality of Pre-Med/Pre-Law advising in Engineering.
Pass-Fail Freshman Fall
EDAB is investigating the possibility of a Pass-Fail first semester, with the aim of reducing stress among freshman engineers and allowing them to adjust to Penn. We are speaking with students and faculty for their input, and are researching other institutions that have a Pass-Fail first semester.
Club Funding Audit
EDAB has received feedback that numerous engineering clubs, such as design-and-build clubs or volunteering clubs, cannot secure funding. We are investigating funding from ESAC, SAC, and the Engineering School, and will propose changes to increase the availability of funding. We are starting from the basics: “If I have a project idea and a few friends who are interested, where do I go to get funded?”
EDAB is aware that little facilities exist for color printing in Engineering, that printing credit does not roll over for engineers, and that printing from engineering is inconvenient as we cannot print from our laptops. As such, EDAB is working with CETS to address these issues. Thus far, CETS has agreed to allow printing credit to roll over and to introduce a method for students to print directly from their laptops!
The purpose of this project is to help Penn Engineers build their careers during their time at Penn. EDAB is looking into pop-up shops in Engineering by Career Services Staff so that engineers can conveniently ask any questions. In addition, EDAB is auditing career fairs to determine whether engineering companies are adequately represented.
Office Hour Availabilities
This project seeks to understand whether office hours are accessible to students. With many office hours located in the afternoon, they can often conflict with classes, which can be particularly inconvenient for FGLI students that might have to work in the afternoons. EDAB is gauging the feasibility of moving office hours to later in the evening.
Social Spaces Initiative
There is a distinct lack of social spaces in engineering, which can reduce engineering pride or curtail interaction between engineering students. To solve this problem, EDAB has encouraged the administration to use Levine Lobby as a social space - adding tables and chairs that students can study at. We are working with the administration on more ways to make Engineering a homelike space for students. Our suggestions include: improving the E-Cafe ambiance, introducing nap pods in Engineering, and suggesting improvements for our new space at 3401 Walnut Street.
EDAB seeks to understand why certain majors see more students switching out than others, and whether anything can be done to make the switching process less stressful.
Improving the Efficiency of the Rapid Prototyping Laboratory
The RPL often operates at peak capacity. The lines, which are worse when MEAM design classes assign due dates, force some students into laser cutting their projects well past midnight. This creates unnecessary annoyance and stress. To help ameliorate this issue, RPL has agreed to implement a queue system so that students can better plan their laser-cutting time and will be announcing in March 2019.
Study Abroad Audit
The purpose of this project was to make studying abroad easier and more feasible for Penn Engineers. The project identified a lack of information as an obstacle to students intending to study abroad: regular and well-publicized info sessions have now been implemented each semester to inform students of their options. In addition, EDAB worked with study abroad staff to audit the options available and suggest more where possible, in addition to reducing the XCAT credit approval process which sometimes took up to 10 months.
The purpose of this project was to evaluate the effectiveness of undergraduate TAs and improve upon it. As a result of this project, semesterly workshops providing all undergraduate TAs with the proper training and skills to teach, guide, and mentor fellow students have started.
EDAB has been working on creating short videos of current students sharing their thoughts about “Why Penn Engineering?” and what their favorite thing about Penn Engineering is. These videos are available to prospective students to help them understand more about Penn Engineering, and why it is a great place to be!
Engineering Classroom Audit
The purpose of this project was to explore how more rooms in Penn Engineering can be opened up for students use in ways of silent study, group study, group projects, and extracurricular activities. As a result of this project, many classrooms are now left unlocked in the evenings to allow students to freely make use of open spaces around Engineering.
Penn Engineering Branding Initiative
EDAB looked into trademarking the school more in the Engineering students’ eyes by identifying frequented areas and pursuing image branding there. This project unfortunately did not get very far, but we were able to successfully recommend the school perform an entire redesign of the seas.upenn.edu website. The old one was atrocious.
While Penn Engineering has produced many accomplished alumni, SEAS students often do not have access to this wealth of knowledge and experience. Our first networking event drew 50+ SEAS student leaders and 10+ alumni. With future events like these, the SEAS Alumni project hopes to encourage more alumnus-student interactions by integrating events and fostering connections between the two groups.
Every year, EDAB has sought to improve the advising process. The unfortunate reality that we have realized is that the bulk of this relationship is dependent on the advisor/advisee. To help address this variability, EDAB created academic advising quick tips and integrated “cheat sheets” into the Undergraduate Handbook on the Engineering website.
OPA! and 7 SEAS Survival Guide
This project is aimed at helping the typical engineering freshman assimilate better in the SEAS and Penn community. EDAB worked with the New Student Orientation programming in Engineering to develop an improved OPA! peer advising program. Academic and social survival guides are also in development-with eventual distribution to all the SEAS freshmen.
SEAS Green Initiative
Originally, EDAB’s Green Initiative was an initiative to install approximately six to twelve urban-scale wind turbines on or around SEAS buildings. These turbines would serve as a highly visible symbol of the roll engineering plays in the long-term sustainability of our planet and as a reminder of Penn’s commitment to sustainable practices.
Though this project didn’t produce wind turbines, it did give rise to the creation of an undergraduate group dedicated to making SEAS more environmentally friendly. The group, SEAS Green, aims to raise environmental awareness in the engineering school.
SEAS White Paper
Every three years, EDAB writes a comprehensive Penn Engineering White Paper which surveys the current state of Penn Engineering. All Board members contributed to this multi-hundred hour effort by working with other student leaders, administrators, and faculty to analyze Penn Engineering’s policies, programs, and strategic goals. We then combined student opinions with faculty insight to generate realistic and efficient initiatives while helping the SEAS administration best focus their efforts.
Our assessment divided our focus into three overarching themes which define undergraduate life and the school’s identity. The first of these was the central role of academics, research and professional development in Penn Engineering. The second theme focused on the critical function of community experiences and social interaction in undergraduate life. The final theme related to Penn Engineering’s big-picture goals and 5+ year strategic positioning.
The final Spring 2018 White Paper was a dense 57 page document that provided a pulse of Penn Engineering to the administration. It is still referred to by Dean Kumar and Dean Composto.
Cloud Computing Initiative
EDAB wanted to make it easier for engineers to have greater access to the treasure trove of programs provided by our school. Working with talented technical staff, EDAB expanded the CETS Virtual Lab, providing more fully-loaded computers to students in their dorm rooms. We also worked with College House Computing to provide Matlab, a powerful programming utility, to all of the computers in the College Houses.
Engineering Food Options
EDAB’s Dining Options project aimed to improve the dining experience in the engineering school. Often, engineering students find themselves working late nights in the engineering buildings, using tools and software that they cannot access elsewhere. Unfortunately, at this time there are few late night dining options in and around the engineering school. The Accenture Cafe now hosts a hot drinks vending machine that SEAS students can use 24/7, as well as new decor and improved seating. There’s still work to be done though, which is why this project was reformed into the Social Spaces initiative.
Room Reservation System
The Room Reservation System project was rooted in the fact that there are several different administrators that must be contacted in order to reserve a room in the Engineering school depending on their location. More importantly, there was no centralized list of the appropriate contact for each conference space. In addition, it was not clear which rooms may be reserved for student use. To facilitate the process students must follow in order to reserve a conference room for group study or other meetings and to clarify in particular which rooms may be reserved, EDAB sought to help establish an on-line Room Reservation System. The anticipated users of such a system included student groups, students, and faculty.
This system was implemented in the fall of 2010 and has been a fantastic resource for clubs and students searching for space: Room Reservation System
Rachleff Scholars Program
Designed to promote research among the top 5-10% of SEAS undergraduate students, the Rachleff Scholars Program is committed to getting its scholars hooked on research early and enmeshed in a vibrant network of faculty and student researchers that will keep them moving forward. EDAB provided the impetus for the creation of this SEAS-specific honors program and worked with the Undergraduate Affairs Committee for two years to make it a reality: The Rachleff Scholars Homepage