Three student organizations earn top honors
A trio of student organizations with ties to the University of Missouri College of Engineering recently earned prestigious honors for their work in the last year.
The MU student chapters of the National Society of Black Engineers, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and Upsilon Pi Epsilon, the international honor society for the computing and information disciplines, were lauded for their efforts. NSBE was tabbed Medium Chapter of the Year, Region V at the organization’s national conference, and Region V also was named top region, making MU’s chapter the “best of the best.” SHPE was named Most Outstanding Small Organization (25 or fewer members) at the Chancellor’s Excellence Awards and UPE earned Most Outstanding Large Organization honors at the same event. UPE also received the Outstanding Large Chapter Award at the society’s international convention.
National Society of Black Engineers
Raphael Yohannes, MU’s NSBE chapter president, said receiving the award from the national chapter was a real boon for the chapter. The organization worked to improve both in the classroom and in professional development while continuing to give back to the Columbia community. NSBE added several member weekly study sessions from Monday through Thursday, held two meetings per month at which current professionals shared their experiences with members, raised funds to cover the cost of attending the national conference, required members’ participation in resume reviews and mock interviews, continued tutoring sessions at St. Luke United Methodist Church, starting a mentoring program and paired with Battle High School to promote interest in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields.
“It was a humbling experience, and we definitely appreciated it,” Yohannes said of receiving the award.
Going forward, Yohannes said NSBE wants to keep building on recent improvements and focus on finding a system or mentoring program to motivate members to continue to improve the academic performances toward increasing retention.
“If you have underclassmen struggling but have upperclassmen that have already been through that course, there really shouldn’t be a continual pattern each year,” he said.
Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers
SHPE returned with a flourish this year after a bout of recent inactivity. Several students went about reestablishing MU’s chapter back in September, and the group hit the ground running, working on professional development projects such as resume review sessions, LinkedIn workshops and a reverse career fair. SHPE also was active volunteering at local high schools through Project Lead the Way and held several key social events, including pairing with NSBE and the Society of Women Engineers on a bowling night and diversity banquet. The group also hosted “Tacos with the Dean” and paired with the Hispanic American Leadership Organization on Noche Latino and hosting a panel on Latinos in science.
“We were gone for about three years,” SHPE president Anthony Cano said. “We have a solid six leaders, and we only have a few members because we just got started and have a small demographic, too. So it was a really, really rewarding award.”
Cano added that the positive feedback about the group’s return has created excitement as SHPE looks to recruit more members.
“When a few members and I went to the career fair, we were told, ‘Oh, you guys are back? We want to work with you guys,’” Cano said. “I think that’s amazing. I would’ve never known that would’ve happened.”
Upsilon Pi Epsilon
Professional development and the fostering of a sense of community were big keys for UPE, the international honor society for computer science and IT majors, as well. UPE President Michael Rowden said the group did company tours in Kansas City and St. Louis of companies such as AT&T, Boeing, Cerner, held an interactive coding experience for about 50 middle school students, started work with the MU Family Impact Center to provide free IT help sessions to the underprivileged. In addition, they gave department tours to prospective students and worked on social and educational events for current students with the Computer Science Department’s Graduate Student Council. UPE also recently started a sponsorship program to allow companies to sponsor the organization and plan to use the funds potentially to host more events.
Last year, UPE earned the Chancellor’s Excellence Award for Most Improved Organization and their efforts this year took them to the next level on campus as well as earning national recognition after finishing in the top five last year.
“It’s definitely nice to get recognition not only from the campus level, but the national level,” Rowden said. “At the end of the day … it’s all about doing stuff for the community.”