Hello! Thank you for stumbling across my website and taking an interest in it! This post is going to be a more of a personal note than commentary because I need to tell you about what’s happening with my life (and this website) for the next three weeks. So for those of you not aware, I’m currently studying abroad at Swansea University in Wales. It’s absolutely beautiful in Swansea and I’m having a wonderful time. One of the awesome things about Swansea (and the UK college education system) is that I have a spring break that is three weeks long. What does an American do when she’s living in the United Kingdom and has a three week spring break? She visits the main continent of Europe, of course! I’m beyond excited, but this means I’ll be unable to post blog updates for the next three weeks. Instead, I’ve created a website where I’ll upload my favorite photos whenever I have internet so check out Morgan’s Spring Break 2013. Currently, I just have a map of where I’m going, but I’ll add more as I go places!

Proposed Route for Spring Break 2013

Should you be compelled to ask yourself, “Where in the world is Morgan Bakies?” sometime over the next three weeks, I have an answer for you:

  • March 25: London, United Kingdom
  • March 26: Pompeii, Italy
  • March 27-28: Rome, Italy (including: Holy Thursday mass with the Pope!)
  • March 29: Venice, Italy
  • March 30-31: Prague, Czech Republic
  • April 1-3: Berlin, Germany
  • April 4: Paris, France
  • April 5-7: Mont St. Michel and Loire Valley Chateaux Tour, France
  • April 8-10: Strasbourg, France
  • April 11-13: Brussels, Belgium

So please, keep an eye on my iOS website for pictures of some of the coolest places Europe has to offer and live vicariously through me. When I come back, I’ll tell you all about European cities and how beautiful they are. In the meantime, please pray for everyone traveling, including myself, to be safe and enjoy this amazing opportunity. I can’t wait to continue writing and sharing my thoughts with you when I come back to Swansea. Have a wonderful next three weeks, internet! See you soon!

PS: I just downloaded a really cool app that lets me turn my photos into postcards. If you send me a request for a certain photo and your address, I’ll do my best to get a picture for you and send it to you! See how to contact me under “Start”.

“A major issue in engineering right now is teaching with PowerPoint,” a doctorate candidate at Swansea University told me in passing.

Students sitting near the speaker of all years and nationalities nodded their heads in agreement, whether they were full-time English/Welsh students, international student, exchange students, or Erasmus students.

Since classes began in January in Swansea, I’ve taken careful note of how my different professors taught their engineering courses due to my interest in engineering education. There are positive differences compared to my year and a half Illinois. For example: a number of my professors incorporate videos in their lectures, which I quite enjoy. However, in contrast, a number of my professors use PowerPoint extensively as a mode of teaching. For instance, one of my required chemical engineering courses that I’m taking at Swansea is thermodynamics.

Everyday my thermodynamics professor uses PowerPoint as his only method to convey information and material to students. Instead of working out problems for his students or showing his reasoning and common mistakes, my professor simply displays calculations that have already been completely finished and perfected. There is no student interaction and we are not shown where he found the values he used in the problem. Instead, we are told and then asked if we have any questions.

How are we students expected to form questions when we cannot work through the problem shown and see for ourselves where we do not understand?

The evolution of learning tools in the classroom.

I and my fellow classmates attend lecture solely to sign my name on attendance sheet. We wait until class is over and the current day’s PowerPoint is posted. Then I spend hours reading through and working the problems out myself because I was not given a chance in class to determine what I did not understand and no longer have a professor available to answer questions he never gave me time to formulate. After this, I must work on a worksheet over material to re-enforce what I have learned. However, I did not learn because of the manner the material was taught to me. So instead I struggle with my fellow students with the little guidance of the problems on PowerPoint, worked out with numbers which seem to appear out of thin air.

Learning is an interactive experience. Assigned worksheets will not add interaction to my education. PowerPoint will not provide me with an education experience. I do not ask for guided learning where the teacher watches over the pupil. I understand the UK education system is even less guided than the American system. However, I do ask for the teacher actually perform calculations and allow for input. It may take longer and sometimes the professor may make a mistake, but it is in catching that mistake that I will find my greatest glory. Why? Because it means that I am actually learning the material instead of simply reciting it like a trained animal. I am an engineer who wants to solve problems, but in order to do that, my professors must do more than teach. They must educate.

Happy belated International Women’s Day! Just a brief post on being a woman in engineering today because I was reading this article about how female and minority engineers are more likely to be unemployed. Let’s talk about the numbers real fast: The national unemployment rate right now is 9.6%. The unemployment rate for engineers who are Caucasian and male is 3.6%. If you’re a male and Hispanic or African American or American Indian, the unemployment rate doubles to approximately 7%. Asians are not considered to be minorities within engineering, but Asian women experience this same problem. The ratio of women being unemployed for family reasons compared to men is 5:1. Women are less likely to receive research grants, despite making gains within academia. Here’s the last statistic you need to hear about as demonstrated by the graph: 51% of those employed in engineering are white men. The next largest group? 18% are white women, less than half of the amount of white men employed as engineers.

Reasons For Not Working Among Scientists And Engineers, 2010

Reasons For Not Working Among Scientists And Engineers, 2010: NSF

I am a woman in engineering. Everyday, I walk into classes where I am one of five girls in a fifty person lecture. When I tell people I’m an engineer, I endure the quizzical looks without comment and laugh off any exclamations about girls in engineering. When I fill out engineering job applications, I proudly mark my gender for the minority reporting at the end. I received the Zonta Young Women in Public Affairs Award my senior year of high school because I majoring in a male-dominated field. I’m a proud member of SWE and a supporter of ToGetHerThere which focus on encouraging more girls to pursue science and engineering. I believe this is extremely important.

How am I supposed to inspire girls to pursue engineering when I can’t guarantee they’ll have a job? Is all that I’ve put up and worked for to go to waste? I know it won’t, but it’s discouraging to see articles reporting such biases still exist and hear about women’s salaries compared to men and the glass ceiling.

I am so thankful for all the support friends and family have given me in order to continue to pursue this career. I will do my best to earn my place with engineering and support my fellow female engineers. Together, we can change these statistics and I look forward to the day we do this.

Do you know what Junior Enterprise (JE) is? What about JADE? Does Brazil Junior ring a bell? Chances are, if you’re not living in Brazil or Europe, you’ve never even heard of Junior Enterprise. Let’s change that. Right here, right now.

Junior Enterprise is a confederation of undergraduate student organizations which specialize in consulting primarily within the business and engineering domains, depending on the chapter. Originally, Junior Enterprise was started in France, where some chapters have been working as the French equivalent of non-profit organizations for over thirty years. Yes, every member on the administration board or working as a consultant is either an undergraduate or less than a year out of university, but in every other way, Junior Enterprise chapters are businesses. The officer team is a board with a CEO, CFO, etc. and teams of HR, communications and marketing personnel. Junior Enterprise chapters work with real businesses such as Quicksilver and McDonalds. Business chapters offer consultations, market studies, etc. Engineering chapters work as consultants making websites and making databases. Junior Enterprise benefits both the JE chapters and companies involved because it provides company with cheaper labor who will work hard to do a good job while also giving undergraduate students relevant work experience on a variety of different projects. JADE and Brazil Junior has made a difference to thousands of undergraduate students.

UIUC Junior Enterprise members Skyping with ESCadrille.

Within the past year, two different North American Junior Enterprise chapters have begun. One is located in Montreal and the other one is at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I can proudly say that I am one of the first members of Junior Enterprise in the United States and I think that the meaning of this statement grows day by day. At Illinois, our Junior Enterprise is called CUBE Consulting (Champaign Urbana Business Enterprise). We have projects working with the university’s sustainable farm, the Orpheum Science Museum for kids, and creating our own website (so there’s no website yet, but you can go like our Facebook page!). Everyday CUBE Consulting is growing and taking more steps towards becoming an established Junior Enterprise chapter that will someday work with large scale companies.

Last Tuesday, I helped advance CUBE Consulting one step further. I visited Westminster Business Consultants (WBC) of the University of Westminster in London. By pure happenstance, I stopped by on the same day as two members of ESCadrille, the Junior Enterprise from Toulouse, France. Ironically a week prior, these same members had Skyped with my JE chapter in Champaign. This provided me with the wonderful opportunity to ask questions of two very established chapters of Junior Enterprise that I know will assist CUBE Consulting as it continues to grow. I asked them on advice for recruitment of students and projects. JADE is not as established in the UK as it is in France, so WBC had a lot of good advice for us such as using professors and students to spread the word. ESCadrille has a lot of experience with working internationally and also had suggestions for us to use Skype and also have part of our business development be focused on partnerships and international relations.

CUBE Consulting’s logo.

Junior Enterprise is not just another club for undergraduates. It is a business, a corporation. Students involved receive hand-on experience within the working world that matters and makes a difference for companies. Both WBC and ESCadrille said that they most rewarding part of what they did was when they looked back on all they had accomplished in one year. I don’t know if we’ll have accomplished a ton of projects with big names with in a year at CUBE Consulting, but I think that will happen someday. For now, our big accomplishment is being the first Junior Enterprise in the US and second in North America (Kudos to MUSE in Canada for beating us!). I look forward to seeing where it goes and giving future undergraduates this opportunity which will improve the quality of their engineering education.

WBC members who met with me last week.

Also, the Junior Enterprise members from WBC and ESCadrille were some of the nicest, friendliest people I have met while I’ve been studying abroad in the UK. I loved getting know them and enjoyed sharing dinner with them. I hope to continue working with them to connect them with UIUC as well as talking with them and becoming friends. I also really want to meet more Junior Enterprise members just as friendly as they are. I’ll be visiting JADE in Brussels at the end of spring break, but I would love to meet more while I’m on the main continent during the first few weeks of April. If you’re a JADE chapter in Europe interested in connecting with the first Junior Enterprise in the US, please shoot me an email at bakies2@illinois.edu. I think it would be a great way to see the world and make friends while continuing to grow and learn all around Europe! In the meantime, please familiarize yourself more with Junior Enterprise and let us know if you’re interested in any consulting. Thanks!

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