We sat down to chat with Megan Walseman, class of 2023, who has just finished her sophomore year in Engineering and Management to give you an idea of what to expect in this program.
CU: Why Engineering and Management?
Megan Walseman: Finding your ideal college can seem nearly impossible when you first begin your search. I applied to over a dozen colleges with a wide variety of majors in mind.
I chose E&M after a lot of back and forth. A big part of picking Clarkson for me came down to the job placement ratings. I saw how successful their graduates were and this made my decision so much easier. When I learned that they continually had a high placement rate (E&M had 100% placement for the Class of 2020) this played a big role in my decision.
So, I started looking through Clarkson’s list of majors. While doing so I kept recalling the statements of my high school counselors, “you should be a math teacher or an accountant.” They would say this to me all the time, but it didn’t seem to fit right.
When I saw that Clarkson offered a major in Engineering and Management, I was interested to learn more about the combination of math, engineering, and business as my core curriculum. The opportunities that went with this program and what was offered for course selections. As I began to learn more about the type of classes, different co-ops, and internships that students were getting from this major, I was so excited to start my journey!
CU: Megan, although only a sophomore, do you have any plans on where you might take your career at this time?
MW: I have not really decided what path yet. Since Engineering and Management is such a diverse major with so many opportunities, I do not feel pressured to pinpoint early on. At this time I am thinking that some type of business setting is more where I belong.
But one of the special attributes about E&M is that I don’t have to know yet. I will always be able to go anywhere I want to go with it. This is a huge aspect that attracted me to this program since I can get a business degree and still be a part of the business school while learning parts of the engineering world as well. Since our program combines the business aspect and the technical side by also taking all the science and math classes that a typical engineering student would, it’s the best of both worlds and opens up so many doors.
In January of 2021, I accepted my first internship offer from TRC Companies, Inc. I will begin employment with them in June of this year as a Technical Intern, working remotely.
Although my internship has not officially begun, there is a lot that goes into these internships before you even receive that offer letter.
CU: What advice would you give to college students applying to internships and co-ops?
MW: The most important thing throughout the process is to remain positive. Rejections are not failures; they are learning experiences. You will most likely not receive interviews from every company you apply to. You may occasionally be told that you are not the right fit for the job. Despite this, I would encourage people to apply to anything that sparks your interest.
Apply to those remarkable companies even when you think your resume or prior experience won’t make the cut. Involve yourself in clubs. Choose clubs that you will enjoy and choose clubs that will benefit you academically or professionally. Opportunities are everywhere at Clarkson, and you are only holding yourself back if you choose not to put yourself out there.
CU: What do you do outside of the classroom?
MW: My first year I was kind of hesitant about how involved I was going to be on campus. As a Freshman, there is a lot to take in all at once. It took me until my spring semester to even start to join clubs.
I am now a member of 4 different clubs/organizations including Phi Sigma Sigma, Student Association for Engineering Management (SAEM), Society of Women Engineers (SWE), and Women and Wellness. I only actively hold positions in one of these clubs (Phi Sigma Sigma).
Joining a club or being involved with other organizations does not have to be super time-consuming. Freshman year I was hesitant to become involved on campus because I assumed it would take away from my academics. When I took the leap and began getting involved, I realized that the level of your involvement in each club is entirely up to you. I realized that this is my college experience, and I can do whatever I want with it. By becoming involved with a wide variety of clubs you get the opportunity to meet individuals that could become your best friends, make countless memories, grow your network, build your resume, and simply gain new experiences which is what college is all about.
CU: You participated in the President’s Challenge, can you tell us more about that?
MW: Yes, I was with a group of fellow students from our first-year class for E&M. We take two separate classes – one in the fall semester, team-based design innovation, and another in the spring. Our team-based design innovation class is where we started our group for the President’s Challenge.
The President’s Challenge is a university-wide challenge designed by President Collins in collaboration with staff from Clarkson Ignite. There are different categories you can submit your idea in, and if you win you get money for them. We got to work on this project the whole year including our second semester in our other half, of the first-year course, Technical Entrepreneurship.
The 2019-2020 Clarkson University President’s Challenge was to “Think, Make and Ignite your passion through innovation.” Professor Crimi early on in my freshman year placed me into a group working with three other students: Blake Gearhart, Paul Barthelmes, and Logan Craig.
The four of us together decided that the millions of acres being lost each year to wildfires was a major issue to consider. From there we did extensive research which resulted in our own product idea. We wished to produce a solar-powered smoke detector that could ultimately transmit a signal notifying local fire departments. Our product was cheap and of a fairly simple design. Members of our team utilized the Clarkson Ignite Center and other resources while creating a 3D printed casing for our product, and while programming and running tests on our Arduino.
The experience of participating in the President’s Challenge was incredibly valuable for each of us. The experience provided us with new knowledge, valuable collaboration and teamwork skills, and some of our first friendships at Clarkson.
The President’s Challenge personally showed me the value of Clarkson beyond academics. At every obstacle we faced, there was someone at Clarkson to help guide us forward. This experience showed me that not everything is a competition. You will not always be the smartest student in your class, the one with the most experience, or the one with the greatest new product idea. There is nothing wrong with striving to be any of those things, but the more important goal should involve your own personal growth. Do not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone or to ask for help when you need it. I have found that at Clarkson your faculty, staff, and your fellow peers are all rooting for your success.
CU: Do you feel academically supported here at Clarkson?
MW: I do, I feel like Clarkson has a very strong academic support system. My freshman year I struggled a little with a few of my classes, and it was so easy to request a tutor. I was quickly assigned someone, and the hours were super flexible to work with my schedule. Even now with COVID going on, we’re still able to jump onto a zoom call to receive extra help.
Another aspect that I have found to be helpful is that professors will set up office hours with you whenever you need them. You can either attend the professor’s previously set office hours or most of the time they are also willing to schedule a time outside of the set office hours when you need assistance. The professors here are connected to us as students and truly care about our overall development.
One of the most influential professors I have had since coming to Clarkson is Michelle Crimi. I had Professor Crimi in two of my freshman year courses, Team-based Design & Innovation, and Technological Entrepreneurship. On top of this, Michelle Crimi was the Director of Engineering and Management during that time (she was recently promoted to interim Dean of the Clarkson Graduate School). Without her pushing our class, I would never have enrolled in the President’s Challenge in 2020, nor would I have joined the Student Association for Engineering Management. I would probably not feel as engaged and connected with my fellow E&M majors as I do. As I began my internship search sophomore year, Professor Crimi was happy to be one of my references. This past semester she would recognize me out in public while wearing masks at places like the grocery store and make sure to say hi. Feeling recognized and supported by Crimi was what made me confident in my decision of choosing Clarkson and in choosing the E&M program.
CU: Any final thoughts?
MW: The thing about Clarkson and the Engineering and Management program specifically is that we truly are like a family, the staff and faculty give so much support to us as students. Our courses are challenging and are all unique and teach you different things. We are presented with new opportunities to grow and become well-rounded and career-ready students. We have great academic advisors that help us plan our goals and keep us on track – Misty is my advisor and she has been so helpful. It’s nice to have someone in the program to help you, and help look at the big picture of your college career and beyond! Although at this time I do not know where my E&M education will take me, I feel prepared for my internship and know I will be ready for what’s next after college.