Viterbi hosts National Engineering Week

The Viterbi School of Engineering and the Klein Institute for Undergraduate Engineering Life programming committee hosted Engineering Week as part of National Engineers Week, a week in February dedicated to raising awareness of the positive contributions engineers make to society.

Christine D’Arcy, assistant director of student engagement and career connections at Viterbi, said the events this year covered social, community outreach, academic and career aspects.

“We have fun social events, just to bring the community together and celebrate all of the hard work everyone puts into engineering. We also have academic events, like the quiz bowl, testing your knowledge,” D’Arcy said.

National Engineers Week was started in 1951 by the National Society of Professional Engineers in conjunction with George Washington’s birthday. Washington is considered the nation’s first engineer, notably for his survey work.

“[E-Week celebrations] have changed over the years; some years we do more stuff than others, but the last couple of years, the KIUEL programming committee has taken on programming for students for the week,” said D’Arcy.

D’Arcy said the outreach events have been an important part of E-Week for a long time.

“We’ve been doing Discover Engineering Day with the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and then this year is the first year we’ve done something for Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day,” D’Arcy said. “So we had about 30 middle school students from Englewood here to learn about circuits and computers. We’re doing a workshop on pitching and presenting, which is all the important skills engineers need to be successful.”

KIEUL was established to provide Viterbi undergraduates a variety of personal and professional activities that will enhance undergraduate engineering student life experiences outside the classroom.

“This year is probably one of the biggest planning committees we’ve had in recent years.  We have students from all majors and years participating in the planning committee. It’s really representative of all the different types of students we have here at Viterbi,” D’Arcy said.

Betty Stearns, marketing coordinator of the KIEUL programming committee, said she knows a lot of people are looking forward to Viterbi Ball because it’s during midterm season and it gives them something to look forward to.

“This year, we stepped up our social media game a lot,” Stearns said. “All of our events have had a higher attendance, especially Viterbi Ball — we sold out much quicker. The Kickoff Carnival was really successful and done very professionally.”

Viterbi Ball is a formal dance that gives engineering students the opportunity to listen to good music, unwind with friends, and make lasting memories of their undergraduate experience at USC.

“One of the things we advertise for E-Week is that it’s a fun opportunity for engineers to get out of their hole that they go into when they study and just have fun with other engineers,” said Stephanie Ego, secretary of the KIEUL programming committee. “We have Viterbi Ball and it’s against the stereotype of what people usually think of what engineers do or don’t do.”

D’Arcy said they invited a couple of new speakers this year from companies such as Tech Talks by SanDisk and Facebook.

Jonathan Mooser, a senior engineer on the Feeds Ads team at Facebook and a graduate of the PhD program at Viterbi, spoke about how his experience at USC has helped shape his career aspirations.

“Who you work with is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make,” Mooser said during his presentation. “The real reason I left my first job is that the whole company is run by marketers and not engineers, and that there was no upfront heavy investment in technology.”

D’Arcy discussed how Viterbi events centered around career programs are meant to help students have an easier time post-graduation.

“The career related events make students think about what they want to do after they graduate and how they’re going to make an impact on the field of engineering after they leave USC,” said D’Arcy.