I’m back!

Yes, I promise. That’s my commitment to you. I apologize for the hiatus, but it’s been for good reasons. So, what’s happened since my last blog post? Here are the experiences I’m grateful for over the past 2 months:

  • I was knighted as a Knight of St. Patrick with friends, family and many amazing people from the College of Engineering. Iam honored and humbled by the entire experience.

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    My roommates (and best friends) and I at the Knights of St. Patrick ball after I was knighted.

  • I went on NFK (Newman Foundation Koinoinia) 121 as a team member where I helped participants return to God and grew deeper in my faith. It was beautiful!
  • I helped film physical chemistry lectures (check out Lecture 24!) to help as one my professor’s from last semester continues to develop and improve his flipped classroom learning style. It’s been an awesome learning experience for me.
  • I traveled to Minneapolis for spring break to job shadow at Cargill for the Cargill Global Scholars program. I learned so much from my mentor about how companies are improving the training of their engineers–I was introduced to a new type of engineering education! And afterwards, I traveled to visit my cousin (a PhD student at the University of Minnesota) and my aunt, uncle and cousin who live in Milwaukee.
  • I’ve been serving as 1 of 2 undergraduates on a Campus Conversation for Undergraduate Education working group pertaining to Integrative, Interdisciplinary and Experiential Education. We’ve been discussing how to improve undergraduate education by making general education requirements more meaningful, increasing the opportunities students of different majors work together, etc.
  • Finally, my pride and joy of the past 2 months: This past Friday, Karen Lamb and I finished our final draft of our paper International Experiential Education in Engineering: a Case Study of Junior Enterprise after 4 months of work and the challenge of writing a draft paper in less than 10 days. We will be published authors presenting this paper at the American Society of Engineering Education’s International Forum during their annual conference in Indianapolis this June. It’s a major opportunity to spread the Junior Enterprise concept throughout the US and I’m so excited!!

So, I think I have a reason for my hiatus. I apologize for committing to posting more blogs and failing at it though. And with that I bring you… (drumroll please!)

A new blog series!

The Joys of Engineering

Last semester, I was in a slump, constantly questioning my future vocation as an engineer. This semester, I’ve realized how blessed I am and how much engineering has taught me. I’m grateful for the challenges I’ve been given because they’ve helped me grow as a person and learn so much about the natural world. I love being on the forefront of technology, developing new scientific advances which will make the world a better place.

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Karen Lamb and I presenting our ASEE paper on Junior Enterprise at a poster session for chemical engineering. I learned so much about joy in engineering from researching the benefits of CUBE Consulting and Junior Enterprise.

With this change of heart, I have noticed a culture of negativity that pervades my education as an engineer: complaining about a professor, being upset over grades, depression over work and studies, etc. So many people tell me, “I just want to go work as an engineer.” One friend confessed to me that she has nervous breakdowns when she has drive from home back to school because being at the university is so stressful. As an empathetic person, I feel overwhelmed by desolation within engineering students.

I want to change this perception.

University is an amazing time for students to grow in all facets of their lives. Our time studying at university should not be spent wishing it were over already. We should enjoy every moment of this academic freedom where we have so many opportunities to learn about anything whether it be engineering, social sciences, history or even faith. College is a journey to the rest of our lives where we will be busy with a normal 9-to-5 work schedule, paying back student loans, creating a family, being members of our community, etc. I want to encourage you to make the most of this journey.

How?

I’m going to write a brief blog at least 3 times a week about the Joys of Engineering whether it be a new scientific development that’s awesome (ie: a possible cure to ALS), something exciting in my own life as an engineering student (ie: becoming a Knight of St. Patrick), or a spotlight on friends who are doing amazing things in engineering. I want to empower you, if you’re an engineering student or even if you’re not, to find joy within your own life every single day. I think that this will also help me to maintain my optimism so that I can try to be a light to others everyday. I believe that if you make the most of everyday God’s given you, you shall find happiness. Take the journey with me and we’ll travel this road of joy together! See you soon!

Credit to Shea Acott’s The Gratitude Project and 100 Happy Days for the inspiration for this blog series. Both movements have been beautiful. I’m so excited to see where this project takes me!

After a very long semester, I’m happy to say that I’m back. So, hello again! I hope anyone following this blog or discovering it for the first time is doing well. I apologize for the absence. It was necessary in order to keep my life in order. I came back to Illinois already committed to several organization. I also had a class load that was much more time intensive than what I had experienced in the UK last spring.

So what have I been up to?

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Our CUBE Consulting executive board and project managers at the corn maze near Champaign.

CUBE Consulting: I took on the job as President of CUBE Consulting, the first United States Junior Enterprise, over the summer, searching for projects for this school year. Since then, my executive board and I have successfully recruited 17 new members. My vice president and I transferred planned projects to our project managers and their project teams. We trained our consultants and then watched as our consultants put engineering in practice, solving company’s technical problems. I also started an entrepreneurial speaker series for consultants to learn more from successful entrepreneurs. Want to learn more about CUBE Consulting and Junior Enterprise? Check out this post I wrote about it!

Engineering Initiatives: I joined a new group before returning to Illinois focusing on projects that better the College of Engineering at Illinois. My project last semester was increasing student awareness of necessary documentation for working at an internship, co-op or – employment. My next project will be publicly addressing the fact that chemical engineering is within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, not the College of Engineering, to interested students. Chemical engineers are still engineers and it’s actually very beneficial for chemical engineers to be considered within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Engineering Learning Assistant: I helped teach an Aspirations to Leadership course for freshman engineers. As a leader in several extracurricular activities, I loved teaching a subject that I’m very passionate about. I also enjoyed serving as a mentor to incoming students still adjusting to student life. This course was part of the First Year Experience classes started by iFoundry to create a more hands on, interactive education for first year engineering students which has become a program of the College of Engineering. It was great to be part of such a successful improvement of engineering education at Illinois.

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Some of the ladies I became good friends with this year while helping out at St. John’s Catholic Newman Center on campus.

St. John’s Catholic Newman Center Retreats: For those who don’t know, I’m a Catholic who actively enjoys living my faith. When I left Illinois in Fall 2012 to study abroad, I had just attended my first retreat with the Newman Center on campus. I returned this past fall to assist with another retreat and will be on team for a retreat this spring. I really enjoy this aspect of my life because it helps me grow closer to God and become more involved outside of engineering. I absolutely love engineering, but it’s really important to be diverse! These retreat teams develop my communication and social skills, unlike most of my engineering classes.I’ve made the most amazing friends from being involved. I am already excited for the retreat I’ll be on team for this coming semester!

So this is why I haven’t had a chance to write many any blog posts. I apologize. I’ve been actively investing my time in making a difference for other engineering students. As Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” I’ve been doing just that because actions speak louder than words.

That does not change the fact that I want to continue connecting to engineering education advocates around the world. I want to be a change while also sharing my ideas because I think ideas are what creates action.

My New Years Resolution to You

I am going to blog once a week on Monday at 3 pm CST. It won’t be long, but there will be a post every Monday here about new research and developments within engineering and engineering education. I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you, but more importantly, hearing your thoughts.

Thanks for your support and I look forward to seeing you on Monday!

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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