The Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) Department at UC Berkeley is a multi-disciplinary program with a community of over 300 people. Our Ph.D. students work across a wide range of cutting edge topics like longer lasting batteries to creating greener recyclable plastics.
In addition to their research and class loads, MSE Ph.D. students are actively involved in both department and university-wide organizations. Some of these groups focus on improving life at Berkeley like the Graduate Women in Engineering who support female identifying people in STEM fields. Other orgs like the Science Policy Group focus on how to help policy makers craft science-backed policy and increase civic engagement in the scientific community. Our MSE graduate students are a hard working and passionate bunch with many academic and social interests.
The MSE Graduate Student Council (MSE GSC) is the representative body for MSE graduate students. Our mission is to improve graduate student life. We want to build a strong support network for MSE graduate students, bring the community together through events, and advocate on behalf of students. Given our diverse graduate student body, about 50% of whom are international students, we know the importance of building a strong sense of community from the beginning. That’s why the MSE GSC developed a new, in-depth orientation program for our new graduate students. Your donation will go directly to supporting our orientation and will help new graduate students feel at home in the MSE department.
Our orientation program gives graduate students a sense of community before starting classes and research. It gives students the chance to learn about the department and university and lets them adjust to their new environment. We also help connect new students to older graduate students and faculty members. Our program holds conversations about ethics in research and school, work-life balance, sexual violence and sexual harassment, stress, and mental health and wellness. We need your support in making this orientation as strong as it can be for our new students.
Our main goal in orientation is to let new graduate students get to know each other and feel comfortable before the start of their hectic class and research schedules. To help students get to know each other, we put on social and bonding activities during orientation. We organize department socials, happy hours, hiking, an MSE-themed Escape Room and a language exchange between domestic and international students. Your donations go towards making these events possible and create a welcoming experience for our new students’ first few days on campus.
We connect new graduate students to a range of resources available to them on the UC Berkeley campus. They meet and hear from counsellors from the UC Berkeley Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). They interact with one of the engineering librarians and learn how to improve their research with tips on finding and writing academic papers. Finally, we work with the PATH to Care Center to train our new graduate students in what behaviors are classified as sexual violence and sexual harrassment. We also educate them on what protections they have under Title IX and what ways they can help friends or peers in these situations. By completing this intimate, in person training within our department, instead of in a big lecture hall at the university-wide level, we find that we have much more open, honest conversations about these topics and we find that students feel more comfortable discussing and asking questions. Your donation will help us make the best possible experience in these workshops and compensate the people who work hard to create them.
Through all of these sessions and activities, we want new graduate students to feel welcome and part of a community from the moment they arrive on campus. They gain insight on what works and what doesn’t work from older graduate students who they meet during orientation. They can worry a little less knowing about all the resources they have before they begin research and classes. They have new friendships and a sense of their peers’ cultures from team-building activities. Finally, they know who to ask for help, which is probably the best way to make someone feel settled and comfortable in a new environment.
Please donate today to help us guide a healthy, successful and socially conscious generation of scientists at our 2020 orientation!
To keep up with orientation and the graduate student council, please follow us on Twitter: @ucbmsegsc and on Instagram: @ucbmsegsc or email firstname.lastname@example.org for questions!