First Year Experience Coordinator Message
Marina Crawford - First Year Experience Coordinator
"Some people could look at a mud puddle and see an ocean with ships." - Zora Neal Hurston
Don't you wish you could maintain the same sense of wonderment children seem to have about the world around them? Where we could all follow Peter Pan to the place 'where dreams are born and time is never planned.' We might not be able to be 'lost boys' forever, but we all have the ability to keep seeing 'an ocean with ships' in 'a mud puddle.' As evidenced when we asked you at SOAR, Engineers do so many different things that it's hard to really define what it is an engineer does. But there's one thing every engineer has the potential to do, regardless of major - as an engineer you get to turn dreams into reality. So as the semester gets underway and you encounter your first set of trials and tribulations, I want to encourage you to keep your head held high and remember that each test you take, every mistake, every accomplishment, is a stepping stone to making dreams a reality. Just remember that "patience, persistence, and perspiration make for an unbeatable combination for success" (Napolean Hill).
Campus Resources and Programs that are Helping to Make Dreams Come True:
Art by CSULB student Narsiso Martinez; Photo by Trang Le
There were too many resources to list here, so these are just a select few of the plethora of resources available to you as a CSULB student. Feel free to explore the csulb.edu website or ask the First Year Experience Coordinator, Marina Crawford, about many more resources on campus!
- CSULB Recycling Center: Did you know we have a recycling center on campus? Located at 5800 Atherton St., between Bellflower Blvd. and Palo Verde Ave., ASI Recycling allows students and community members to redeem their CA Redemption Value items. For a list of accepted items, hours, and redemption prices, visit the ASI Recycling Center website.
- Isabel Patterson Child Development Center: Offering affordable child care since 1975, the National Association for the Education of Young Children accredited Isabel Patterson Child Development Center at CSULB is made up of highly trained and qualified teachers who deliver early child care and education programs for 230 children each semester from 6 months through 2nd grade.
- Beach Pantry and Beach Bites: The Beach Pantry in USU-302 provides non-perishable food items for CSULB students. Beach Bites is an app that allows students to access free meals on campus, which also helps CSULB eliminate food waste. Also housed in the Beach Pantry is the Sustain U sponsored Student Swap Shop program, aimed at providing students with the opportunity to swap unneeded or old school supplies, like books, notebooks, and other items essential to education.
- Veterans Services: Veterans Services assist service members, veterans, and eligible dependents access the educational benefits earned by serving in the armed forces of the United States. It also serves as a support center. Veterans Services is located in the Foundation Building, Room 220. Did you know that COE also has its own Veterans Study Room that is sponsored by Northrop Grumman? If you are a veteran, check it out - EN2-300D.
- CAPS: The Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) helps students meet the personal challenges associated with identifying and accomplishing academic, career, and life goals. CAPS welcomes students of all backgrounds, value systems, and lifestyles. To make an appointment, call (562) 985-4001 or go to the center located on the second floor in Brotman Hall, Room 226.
- Health Resource Center: The Health Resource Center provides health education and support to students in order to facilitate the ongoing development of healthy lifestyles. Services include, but are not limited to - Nutrition counseling, HIV & STD testing & counseling, pregnancy options counseling, well woman exams, yoga for healing, and an alcohol, tobacco & drug program.
- Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Student Resource Center: The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Student Resource Center (LGBTSRC) strives to promote full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, intersexual, and queer identified individuals and their allies at CSULB. They offer community resources, support groups, scholarships, and host their own lavender graduation celebration.
- Disabled Student Services: Disabled Student Services (DSS) assists students with disabilities as they secure their degree at CSULB. They assist over 1,500 students every semester. There are different services within Disabled Student Services to assist as many different types of student needs as possible. Visit their website to see a list of services.
The Work/School/Life Balance
Photo: Aziz Ansari as Tom Haverford - Parks and Recreation, 2009
If you ask just about any engineering student what the most difficult part about being a student is, excluding academics, they're likely to tell you it's trying to strike some sort of balance between school and life outside of school. As you may have already found out, with so much going on, it might feel like you're stretched thin and don't have enough time for everything on your to-do list, or even worse, that you have to be 3 different people between school, work, and home. There may never be a way to strike the perfect balance between the 3, but there are things you can do to help yourself:
- Use a Planner - or calendar or app... really whatever works best for you... to keep all of your responsibilities, deadlines, priorities, bills due, etc. laid out so you don't miss a thing. Not only does it assist with time management, but it's a stress reliever too!
- Say "No" - After you have used your planner to decipher what your priorities are, don't be afraid to say "no" to things that are not a part of your planner or priorities list. This is especially true of your social calendar. Of course you should make time to have fun, but it's all about balance, right?
- Be in the Now - Stressing about what you're not doing will only cause more stress. So when you're at work, be at work, when you're at school be at school, and definitely don't let work or school intrude on the quality time you've set aside to spend with friends and family.
- Throw Perfection out the Window - The stress of being everything to everyone or trying to live up to your own or others' intangible expectations can be overwhelming and detrimental. It's good to set the bar high but don't set it so high that you're incapable of reaching those goals.
- Get into a Routine and Stick to It: Along the lines of using a planner, understand that having a routine for the school/work week is a good thing. It doesn't mean you can't veer from your routine every now and again, but if you know you like to hit the gym in the morning before class (and before the rush), then make it a part of your daily routine. Having a routine helps to keep you focused and less stressed.
- Work Ahead When You Can (...and don't procrastinate): No student ever really thinks to read that day's material before class or to work ahead, but its benefits are exponential. Not only will it give you more time outside of school, it will also keep your stress level down. Procrastinating only makes your to-do list grow into an intimidating amount of work. So, just don't do it.
- Make Time for Yourself: When 50% (or more) of you is dedicated to everything school-related and the other 50% is dedicated to everything outside of school, there's not much time left over for yourself. However, it is extremely important to carve out some time for yourself. Once you have finished important tasks, take a much deserved break by finding some way to treat yourself and clear your mind of the daily grind so you can get back to it refreshed and revitalized.
- "BeachSync: Your Link to Getting Connected" - Sept. 6th, 2pm - 3pm in ECS 304: Hosted by Melissa Norrbom, Assistant Director of Student Life and Development and Marina Crawford, COE First Year Experience Coordinator, this is your chance to learn about CSULB's interactive platform and how it can help you with getting connected, having fun, and developing your portfolio!
- Week of Welcome - Sept. 6 & 7th, 11am - 2pm in the Central Quad: Hosted by the Associated Students, Inc., this is a great opportunity to learn about the campus clubs and activities. Along with learning how you can get involved on campus, you can also enjoy food trucks, local vendors, and tons of giveaways.
- Smorgasport - Sept. 8th, 7pm - 11pm in Parking Lot 3 & USU Games Center: Our annual Fall carnival is finally here! Join in on the fun and meet other students just like you!
- 9/11 Remembrance - Sept. 11th, 12pm - 1pm on the University Student Union North Lawn (USU): This year marks the 16 year anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy. Come pay your respects in a moment of silence for those we lost.
- "On Time + On Task + On Target = On Target" - Choice of Sept. 11th or Sept. 13th, 2pm - 3pm in ECS 304: Come learn all about time-management - why it's important and how to achieve it! If you can't make the Sept. 11th date, join us for the Sept. 13th date instead! (Same place, same time).
- A Moveable Feast... with Faculty & Staff - Sept. 12 & 13th, 12pm - 1pm in the VEC Courtyard: Bring your lunch and join fellow faculty and staff members in the VEC courtyard. This is your chance to ask them about their class expectations, research opportunities, and career advice! This month, the 'feast' will take place with Marina Crawford, COE First Year Experience Coordinator.
- Sundae Funday - Sept. 14th, 2:30pm until the ice cream is gone, on the first floor walkway in front of EN2: Come help your fellow engineers build the largest ice cream sundae COE has ever seen and then enjoy the sweetest of rewards for a job well done! First come, first served.
For our 2nd issue of the Fall 2017 edition of the First Year Experience newsletter, get ready for 5 questions with CECS Professor, Dr. Birgit Penzenstadler!!!
Photo: Dr. Birgit Penzenstadler, CECS
1) How long have you been with CSULB and did you always know you wanted to teach?
Been here 2.5 years. My mum said early in high school that I’d make a good teacher but I never really considered it until well into my PhD and even then still said no when people asked me whether I’d become a professor. I even lost a bet, and so I still owe a weekend of going skiing to a former research colleague in Germany :) Somehow my path still lead me here, actually it did so via a few postdocs (in Munich, Germany, and in Irvine, CA) where I did research and teaching, and I do greatly enjoy teaching. What makes it a calling for me is the opportunity to enable someone to see their potential and make the best of it.
2) How did you get into Computer Science and Computer Engineering? Was it something you always knew you wanted to do?
I actually didn’t intend to ever end up in computer science… I wasn’t even a big fan of computers. I wanted to study communication design and using computers was more of a necessary evil in order to study that subject. However, my application didn’t go through, and when I searched for what I wanted to do instead, I came across a subject called “Media and Design” and it had all the things I wanted (art history, desk top publishing, web design, …) and when I read the fine print it said “This is a minor subject. Major subject required: computer science.” I was not sure whether it was going to be the right thing for me but I was willing to give it a shot as I’d always been good at logical thinking. And turned out I did pretty well and I took a liking to it.
3) You are currently teaching ENGR 390, a course that focuses on sustainability and its relation to information and communication technology. How do you see engineers impacting sustainability in the future?
Unfortunately, the ENGR 390 course didn’t have enough registrations for me to teach it this semester. As far as I know, the main reason is that students didn’t learn about it until too late or not at all yet because it is a new course. However, I am looking forward to teaching it next year. I think engineers of all majors will play a crucial role in helping our societies transition to sustainability - whether that is by making desalination plants work better or by developing software that helps us to better monitor the climate and predict potential nature catastrophes and manage our natural resources. And I believe it is very important that we engineers acknowledge and embrace the social responsibility that comes with our discipline - we are not implementing what other people tell us to do. Instead, we have a responsibility for the long-term consequences of the systems we develop, and a responsibility for human society to do our best to contribute to a transition towards sustainability and resilience.
4) Last academic year, your work in sustainability led to a collaboration between the Study Abroad office, Computer Science and Computer Engineering department at CSULB, and Conscious Impact, a volunteer organization, in the creation of the UNIV 301 and CECS 497 where students had the opportunity to participate in a short-term, study abroad, writing intensive course about sustainable living. The students last year worked to help build a school in Nepal! What was it like to make such a positive impact on a community and is this something students can participate in in the future? If so, how?
Yes, my two consecutive trips to Nepal in January 2016 and 2017 were indeed a wonderful learning experience, adventure, and opportunity to contribute my share to rebuilding a developing country. Here is the report from the last trip: http://web.csulb.edu/~bpenzens/pdf/2017NepalReport.pdf
I connected with Conscious Impact via the yoga studio that I teach at (yogalutionmovement.org) and once I realized I could only go during winter break instead of with my yogi friends, I thought of how to turn this into an opportunity for students to come along and even getting some credit for doing volunteer work. So I created a course around it along the lines of UNIV-301 and CECS-497. Students can participate in the program with Conscious Impact anytime, I’ll be happy to put them in touch, but this winter I won’t be going because I have taken on some research community responsibilities that tie me to my office in December and January. So the program is on, it’s just that they cannot get ECTS credits for it.
5) What advice would you give to first year students pursuing engineering?
Have fun and make friends! Seriously, I know many students who get very stressed out over the course of their time on campus at some point. It happened to me like to anybody else. The one thing that’ll keep you sane and well is to have a solid network of people who care about you and who you care about. So take the time to invest in those friendships. The friendships that I developed during my first semester carried me all the way through to my Master’s degree. Do your course work, yes (and do it well, not just the bare minimum to get through), but be curious to explore outside of that, and attend a lot of extra-curricular activities and meetings, for example join a student club that suits your interests.
The second thing is to make sure that you have at least one hobby or other thing that helps you relax and take your mind off things. You need to recharge at some point, and you can perform best when you give yourself some love and just do what you enjoy doing for an hour every day or every couple of days, whether that is working out, cooking, drawing, running, yoga, painting, playing baseball, dancing, or riding dirt bikes. You are not your mind, instead you have a mind, and you will be able to use it to its best level of performance if you fill up your energy levels with some flow time.
Stay tuned for the next First Year Experience Newsletter: Monday, September 18th!