One college six perspectives

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On April 2, 2019

Students in the College of Arts, Sciences, and Business open up about their lives as Miners.

From applied biology to technical communication, the College of Arts, Sciences, and Business (CASB) is home to a wide range of disciplines and fields. But talk with students in these programs and you’ll soon discover these diverse achievers are alike in one major way: they each are exploring their intellectual curiosity and charting their own path.

Student in hallwayTheir highly individualized journeys are imprinted with the hallmarks of an S&T education, with practical experiences as varied as how to finance a world champion design team to how to inspire the next generation of mathematicians. It’s this mix of skills and experiences that continues to draw a small but steady group of students interested in obtaining an education in the sciences, business, humanities or liberal arts to Missouri S&T each year.

And although it makes up a smaller percentage of the university’s overall enrollment, CASB attracts students who are seeking academic success in a close-knit community.

In the classroom, this smaller number equates to more natural discussions between students and faculty. On our interdisciplinary student design teams, the addition of their diverse perspectives fuels collaboration and fosters innovation. As graduates, regardless of their degree, they discover a strong alumni network ready to welcome them into their community.

And for the six you’ll hear from, they wouldn’t have it any other way.

Why did you choose S&T?

Ocampo: When I toured, I discovered the information science and technology (IST) program. It was exactly what I was looking for in a major. I’ve always been interested in both technology and the people side of things. Most of the majors that I found were basically one or the other. When I met with the IST department supervisors, I was kind of sold on it. It’s that kind of interdisciplinary major that I had been looking for.

See: I chose S&T because of their reputation for academic excellence. I had been told that the university was one of the best in the state for preparing students for work in the STEM field. I was also drawn to how much emphasis S&T placed on internships and full-time careers after graduation. This has turned out to be true in my case, as I’ve been an intern at Brewer Science for a little over a year now.

Two students working on a computerWhat are the advantages of pursuing your degree at S&T? What are the challenges?

Evans: Pursing a degree in psychology has opened doors for me to prepare me for the future working world. One huge advantage I have had is the internship program — which has not only cycled me through professional interview settings but has placed me in the kinds of environments that I want to work in in the future.

Glidden: Math is incredibly hard, and I don’t get to use a calculator. I have friends at other universities who are allowed calculators. They say, “Oh, it’s kind of easy.” And I’m thinking, “Oh, I have to do it by hand.” But it makes you better, because you really learn how to do the math. There are no crutches. I feel like I’m going to be extremely prepared for where I’m going. In the short term, I want to teach in high school and coach pole vault. In the long term, I want to be a college professor, so I think that getting that full degree will help me get a master’s and a doctorate, if I want to go that far. First, it’s just getting that teaching degree and knowing a little bit about math.

Ocampo: Engineering is a huge thing here, but that doesn’t devalue the CASB education. It makes you more marketable. Nowadays everyone is trying to go into STEM. A liberal arts education, a STEM background and being surrounded by all those people — it makes you a little more ready for the workforce.

Thomas: The information science and technology minor has been challenging for me. Learning how to code has been hard. But it is so beneficial. And it isn’t part of the business programs at most other universities. That’s why it is also a benefit. Making it part of the degree program at S&T is perfect because we have access to so many resources to get help.

Student in laboratoryWhat role have S&T faculty and staff played in helping you prepare for life after your undergraduate career?

Evans: The S&T staff I have interacted with have shown their dedication to helping students in so many ways. They have provided so many resources — from résumé help on campus, to job connections outside of campus — that I feel as ready as I can be to graduate. I have more understanding about the professional world, and I’m not sure I would’ve gotten these experiences anywhere else.

Glidden: I love the faculty. All the teachers are great. I’ve never had a truly bad professor. I’ve had ones that I didn’t agree with a whole lot, but I think we’ve all had those. There’s not one that I just truly couldn’t work with.

See: I’m especially grateful to be a part of Dr. Manashi Nath’s research group. She and her team of undergraduate and graduate students have helped me learn, grow and expand my horizons. From doing research on electrocatalysts to generate clean hydrogen fuel, to helping me present our work at research conferences, to showing me what graduate school will be like, I have learned so much from them!

How did you get interested in your major? What interests you most about the field?

Bahm: I came to S&T as an aerospace engineering student because my uncle, Donald Bahm (CSci’79) graduated from S&T. He worked for Honeywell and always had good things to say about the campus. After two years, I realized aerospace engineering was not going to be my career. I took a course in technical communication to fulfill an elective and ended up really liking it.

Evans: What interests me most about psychology is how differently all of our minds work, process and change. It is interesting to hypothesize why someone may act a certain way when others may act in a “normal” way.

Thomas: I came to Missouri S&T as a dual major — engineering management and aerospace engineering — because I wanted to be a rocket scientist. Turns out I don’t like engineering or advanced math. But the business side of engineering fascinated me. I still want to work with rockets, but now my goal is to be the CFO of NASA.

Student in front of Mathematics and Statistics windowWhat is the most important skill you’ve had to develop as an S&T student?

Ocampo: Prioritization. As a freshman, my focus was just to launch myself into everything and see what stuck. But I started liking what I was involved in. One of the big things I figured out was to decide what I valued the most and what I wanted to pursue during my time as an S&T student.

Thomas: Time management and learning to say no. In high school, I was involved in a lot of electives and extracurricular activities, but they were part of the school day. Here, I still want to be involved in all those activities, but they’re all outside my regular schedule. I also have a habit of taking on extra work if something needs to be done and no one steps up. But I can’t do it all and still do well with my school work.

How would you describe the value of an S&T  education?

Bahm: It’s hard to see the value of something until you get through it, but one thing that is valuable is the ability to take a critical look at something and share your perspective. People don’t understand why in their English class they have to be able to talk critically about the books you read in class. But that skill — critical evaluation — can be applied to so many different areas outside the classroom.

Ocampo: I see college a bit differently. I think education is important, but the connections you make are more important. A lot of liberal arts majors are super genuine and passionate people. I think that connecting with those types of people is the value within the degree.

What advice would you give a high school junior who is considering pursuing a degree in one of the CASB fields?

Student in workshopBahm: Don’t just isolate yourself in CASB. Find ways to get involved with other activities. Take advantage of cross collaboration with College of Engineering and Computing students both in your classes and other areas. There are a lot more opportunities here than I was aware of when I started. And even after all my years here, I can still find new experiences. At S&T, there are opportunities to explore just about anything you’re passionate about.

See: Talk to a professor whose research is interesting to you and ask to join his or her group. The FYRE (First Year Research Experience) program is a great way to get started in undergraduate research. The major you pick in high school — or even college in my case — may not be the one you end up pursuing and that is okay. Working will become a major part of your life, so go for the field that gives you purpose.

Thomas: Don’t let yourself worry that people will think you’re weird. It’s ok. “I’m a business major at an engineering school” is a great conversation starter.

What would you like alumni to know about being a student in the College of Arts, Sciences, and Business?

Evans: Although not the focal point of the school’s advertisement, these majors are very applicable to almost all fields. Knowing at least the basics of the various CASB majors can be beneficial in the workplace, and provide different insight.

Glidden: I want alumni to know that I can’t wait to get out in the real world and see the true impact that S&T students are making. If I keep up the good work, one day I can look forward to working alongside you.

What are you doing outside of the classroom to strengthen your skills in teamwork and problem-solving?

Student sitting in chair in front of windowBahm: I have been working at the Writing Center since early in my undergraduate career. It really builds interpersonal skills. You have to have strong writing skills and be able to apply them to find ways to improve all types of writing, like résumés, cover letters, history papers, English papers and even job applications. But you also have to be able to hear a student’s concerns and help them address those concerns.

Evans: I try to interact with more people than I normally would. I know that sounds simple, but when you push yourself to interact with people who are vastly different than yourself, you not only build relationships and know how to work together, you learn how to solve conflicts in mature ways.

Glidden: Being a PRO (preview, registration and orientation) leader gives me a lot of the soft skills that I never knew I didn’t have — like talking to people, introducing yourself, making small talk and project planning. I think it’s really going to help me along the way. But also, I’m a track coach at St. James. I teach pole vault. That’s unique for my situation because what I want to do when I graduate is coach pole vault and teach math.

Ocampo: I have so many extracurriculars. For example, I run a hackathon here on campus called PickHacks. It’s more on the technology community side of things. I really like seeing people learn about technology and that aha moment when a piece of code works or they build something.

See: Joining the First Year Research Experience (FYRE) program introduced me to research which is very much dependent on teamwork and problem-solving. After the FYRE semester was over, I’ve continued to work with the research group and continue to learn more and more.

Thomas: I am chief financial officer for the Mars Rover Design Team. As a CASB major, working with engineers like this is so important for people who want to work for a technology-related industry. There are so many opportunities to learn about things you didn’t even know you were interested in. I have learned a lot from engineers, like manufacturing, and I’ve even made parts for the rover. But, engineers think they’re right all the time, and while their ideas may work, they don’t always look at the whole picture, like cost or feasibility. They need someone to keep them grounded and help them talk through problems.

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On April 2, 2019. Posted in 2019, Features, Spring 2019