Undergraduate Advising

Undergraduate Advising

Students have the opportunity to discuss any problems they may encounter with a Faculty Advisor and/or Peer Mentor. In the event that neither of these resources is successful, an additional route is through the Office of Undergraduate Academics or through the School of Engineering and Science Dean's Office. Below are some tips to help students succeed at Stevens and beyond. Information specific to freshmen and selecting a major may be found at the following pages:

Looking Toward the Future
Engineering students do not have to declare an engineering concentration until towards the end of the third semester, providing them time to choose the appropriate path. When considering a major and career, it helps to have knowledge of what engineering and science graduates actually do in the various disciplines of interest, including types of industry where this work is done, job functions, professional advancement paths, etc. A technical degree is also a very good foundation for advancement into non-technical careers such as in medicine, law, military and other government service.

To help succeed in obtaining a good job, pre-professional experience is extremely valuable. This can be obtained in various ways, such as Cooperative Education assignments, summer jobs in technical positions and through senior design projects conducted under industrial sponsorship. These experiences can help more clearly define student interests, provide connections to potential employers, as well as help create an attractive resume that extends beyond the academic into the world of work.

It is important for graduates in the future to have a more entrepreneurial outlook. Many will become independent professionals or start businesses, other will have to function in small companies where enterpreneurial skills are prized. Even large corporations have had to become more agile in a very competitive global economy and foster entrepreneurship.

For engineers, professional licensure (i.e. becoming a Professional Engineer or P.E.) is an important step that anchors credibility as a practicing engineer. In some fields where the safety of the public is at stake, it is essential. The first step on the path to licensure is the Fundamentals of Engineering Examination (F.E.). This is taken by graduating seniors during their last semester, and is followed by the P.E. examination after some years in suitable practice. It is a good idea to take the F.E exam even for those who do not know whether they will go on to take the P.E. later. This is because as a senior the required knowledge is fresh and is much tougher to come back to  later.

Time Management
Time management is an essential skill for students to master in order to balance classes and extracurricular activities. A useful exercise is to make an approximate inventory of the time spent on various activities. Once completed, the exercise can assess how well goals are being met, especially the ability to provide for adequate study time. The latter is an important success factor. 

Create a Weekly Schedule
The next step is to create a detailed schedule for a week and try to use the knowledge from the inventory to adjust the time spent on various activities to obtain the correct balance. This can be done on a piece of paper, though the disadvantage is that it is not easy to change it in response to the inevitable things that pop up during the week to knock the schedule off track. Flexibility to re-arrange the schedule to compensate for the unforeseen is a major benefit to maintaining effective time management. Software that allows scheduling can be a major asset in this regard.

Stevens students have access to a number of software programs, including Microsoft Outlook. Outlook has a number of functions such as email, exchanging information etc., but for these purpose the key ones are the Calendar and the Task List functions. Students are strongly urged to use Outlook to create a schedule if you do not use another tool.

Using Microsoft Outlook
Outlook is opened from the Start menu by going to Programs and clicking on Outlook in the program list. If it is in the first time Outlook has been opened, the start-up wizard will ask about configuring communications. If another email tool is used, the "No Email" option should be selected. Alternately it can be configured to be the default email tool. The program will then ask about making Outlook the default for news etc.

Once the Outlook program opens, clicking on Calendar provides a number of options. Users can choose to display one day, a week, a month. An activity can be scheduled by clicking "New" on the tool bar and filling in the details. An alternative method is to hold down the left mouse key and drag to highlight the time period to schedule and right-clicking on this to enter the info. Items can be repeated so they do not need re-entering every day or week. An alarm to alert ahead of an appointment can be set. It is recommended that a copy of the schedule is printed so it is always available.

The Task list is another valuable personal management tool. It is a to-do list and can be displayed along side the Calendar. Double-clicking on "Click here to add task" brings up  a template that allows details to be added, including priority and an alarm if desired. Tasks that are completed can be checked off.

Listing tasks and assigning priorities each day to the outstanding ones is a way to get the important things done, not just the urgent ones!

Effective Use of the Library
The S.C. Williams Library is a valuable resource. Knowledge of sophisticated research sources provides students a competitive advantage upon graduation. The library staff is always ready to help find information.

The library provides access to trustworthy and diverse scholarly and professional research resources and databases, which students will need to use when researching projects and papers. Offering access to academic journal articles, conference proceedings, online handbooks and encyclopedias, online books, patents, standards, magazine articles, and newspaper articles, the online resources are a tremendous help during the college experience and beyond in the professional world or graduate school.  The library can also aquire many resources that are not held onsite through the Interlibrary Loan/Document Delivery Service.

The librarians are available in the library at the reference desk or through email, telephone, and IM reference to answer any questions about research or any of the library's services. The Library website is: http://www.stevens.edu/library

Achieving Success
Success involves a number of components that individuals have control over.

It is essential to set goals in order to define direction, both short term and long term, professional and personal.

Motivation is needed to strive towards goals. Without it, the goals are empty and are unlikely to be achieved. Motivation also leads to the other important component, perhaps the hardest, to take action. Goals are just dreams until action is taken, even if only in small ways day by day, to achieve the goals.

In order to take action, it is very helpful to structure efforts through effective time management and to do this in concert with creating a task list with priorities. The task lists allow the short and long term goals to be addressed as specific action items to be built into the schedule. It is also imperative to differentiate urgent from important when defining task priorities.

Understanding oneself can play a valuable role in achieving goals. Everyone is different and no single approach fits all. For example, everyone has different personalities. This influences how people deal with interpersonal situations, stress, problem solving etc. Also people display a number of different learning styles. One person may learn effectively by just listening to a lecture, another, only through doing something physical such as writing out notes. Some are comfortable with learning theory for its own sake, others will only learn it if they can make the connection to a practical application. Understanding oneself can illuminate the most effective approaches to success. If a student's learning style does not fit how a particular Professor teaches, then the student can recognize what is needed to compensate, as even the best professors may not address all learning styles or not all the time.