Every year, Auburn University hosts thousands of 7–12th grade students for Engineering Day — a day designed for students and families all over the country to come and explore what the University’s engineering departments have to offer.
“E-Day gives students the opportunity to get a more in-depth look of a particular kind of engineering,” said Sydney Riley, K–12th grade student coordinator for the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. “Students ... get to see classrooms and lab spaces and get to see what being an Auburn engineering student is really like.”
Riley said that E-Day has been around since 1985, based on an ad itinerary from that year.
“Why it began, I’m not sure ... they used to have Engineering Week, so we think that E-Day used to be a day during Engineering Week,” Riley said. “We found it’s easier just to pick a day in February, so we picked the last Friday in February, and that’s what we’ve stuck to.”
This University event is coordinated by the College of Engineering year-round.
“We actually start coordinating the Monday after E-Day every year,” Riley said. “E-Day takes place on the last Friday of every February, which is great because we know that date is never going to change. That next week we really see who actually came to E-Day, we see feedback surveys, we see in what way we can make things better.”
Riley said everything cranks up in August.
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“That’s when I have to meet with all the different campus partners, parking, communications and marketing,” she said. “[I] make sure all that goes out to AU News Weekly, so I can make our map and itinerary.”
This is the first year E-Day was held in the Brown-Kopel Engineering Student Achievement Center.
“We’re really excited to show our prospective students what we have to offer here, and this building is one of those resources for them”, she said. “Once they get here they can really see everything. We actually sent over 12,000 pieces of mail to 7–12th grade students as well as schools that are in our database”.
Schools and individual students from all over the country make trips to Auburn just for this one-day event.
“This year we had 113 schools sign up,” Riley said. “We have a lot of schools that bring in a lot of students while they’re here, and then we also have individual registration.
She said last year, they had 1,200 students register individually that weren’t included with a school.
Riley said that the total count for last year was 2,645 students attending E-Day, not including students that registered the day of the event.
“Usually we’ll have 200 – 300 students who do not preregister,” Riley said. “So that’s usually close to 3,000 students every year, and that does not even include their families.”
Students come from all over the country for E-Day; it’s not just schools in Alabama.
“70% will come from Alabama, just because it is more convenient,” Riley said. “30% of our participants are from out of state.”
Riley said that the University gets schools from states like California, Hawaii, New York, Texas, Colorado and Michigan.
“People will come, stay the night and just make a whole weekend out of it,” Riley said.
Auburn students are also a big part of making E-Day happen. Riley is in charge of the student volunteers for E-Day.
According to Riley, close to 540 Auburn engineering students are part of E-Day.
Those students are the ones that volunteer for most of the outreach events.
“Every department will have their own tour, and it’s the students who lead those tours,” Riley said. “The students can also be a part of doing hands-on activities during E-Day.”
This E-Day is Riley’s third E-Day working for the College of Engineering. Part of her role is to go and visit schools all over the state as an Auburn University representative.
“My role is really to show them what engineering is,” Riley said. “[Engineers] use their skills to solve a problem and tackle all the challenges of the world.”
In that time, she said she’s noticed that students in grade school levels who might have interests in engineering enjoy problem solving.
“Engineering is very much hands-on,” Riley said. “It is more than being good at math and science, and we’re excited to plant that seed in students early.”
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