ESS 215: Center for Access to Engineering Excellence
This week on the (Not So) Secret Guide to Being a Berkeley Engineer we spoke with Luis Castillo, Manager of Student Development for Engineering Student Services. As part of our spring series about College of Engineering resources that you might not know about or might not have used yet, Luis gives us an explanation of the tutoring and study space available in the Center for Access to Engineering Excellence as well as an overview of workshops that are being presented this semester.
LAURA VOGT: Hello and welcome to The (Not So) Secret Guide to Being a Berkeley Engineer. My name is Laura Vogt, I’m the Communications and Events Manager for Engineering Student Services, and I’m doing a series this semester on College of Engineering resources for undergraduate students. I think there’s a lot of things that, maybe, if you’re a first year student and its your first semester here, you’re worried about just getting through the semester, or if you’ve been continuing here for the last few years, that you just don’t know all of the resources that we have available for you. And this week we’re taking a closer look at the Center for Access to Engineering Excellence, and joining us is Luis Castillo. Luis please introduce yourself and tell us what services you work with and for ESS.
LUIS CASTILLO: Hello everyone. My name is Luis as Laura mentioned and I am Manager of Student Development here in Engineering Student Services. The primary things that I do is working with the different student organizations on campus. All the funding that goes from the College of Engineering to student orgs goes through me. And with that I hope student orgs develop different activities that they do or just come for any advice consulting. Aside from that I manage leadership programs including LeaderShape and then engineering excellence workshops that we do through the CAEE and then a larger role that I take on is managing the Center for Access to Engineering Excellence or the CAEE.
LV: And tell us a little bit more about the Center for Access to Engineering Excellence which we’re gonna call CAEE from now on, a little less of a mouthful. I know it’s a physical space here on campus.
LC: It’s a physical space. We mainly operate out of Bechtel 227 and Bechtel 240. And within these two rooms we provide tutoring for most of the basic course requirements that all engineering students have. And there we have about 30 tutors and 12 Student assistants that work there. Our tutors cover all the different courses. There is drop in tutoring meaning that you don’t have to make an appointment you can just come on by and be served by one of the tutors.
LV: So if students want to know specifically what time they can come in to get tutoring for their specific course, what’s the best way for them to do that?
LC: So you can go to engineering.berkeley.edu/tutoringschedule.
LV: So that’ll be a nice easy way that maybe you can even bookmark the page when you get there. So you can go in there and check it. And as of now it’s updated for the semester.
LC: Yeah definitely it is updated for the semester. And any changes that come up, that will go live on the Website as they happen. So keep in mind that this is the most (updated) information that’s available to you.
LV: And you’ve said that you have 30 tutors so how many courses do you offer tutoring for?
LC: We currently have 50 courses we offer tutoring for. And we have a team of roughly 30 tutors.
LV: Excellent. And so the courses, are they mostly lower division or do you have some upper division in there?
LC: We put our focus on lower division. Just to make sure that all of our students that come in for their first year are covered, but we also offer upper division courses and that comes as an added to whatever students suggest that they need help with. So semester to semester we receive feedback from students as to what courses they wish we offered and then we make sure to include those for the upcoming semester or in that same semester as well if we get the advice from students on time.
LV: Okay. And how do you get your tutors so that they’re prepared for this influx of students that might be having just a problem with the problem set or they might just not be understanding the entire concept in a course?
LC: All of our tutors are trained in how to deliver the material not only as to what is the best pedagogy to do so, but also how to connect with the students, and how to identify the different issues that students may have. But what you can do to help a tutor if you come in is let them know what’s going on. What’s a particular topic that you’re experiencing difficulty with, and how you can see that the tutor can best support you.
LV: And the purpose of tutoring isn’t to come in and just get an answer.
LC: Of course the tutors are there to support you in your learning endeavor but not to provide you with answers.
LV: So if you come in and there’s a class you really need some extra support in, and it’s not listed on the website, What do you suggest that a student do in that case?
LC: You can definitely let somebody at the front desk of the CAEE know or you can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know of any extra support that you need. And depending on how many students requests (asking for support), that’s when we decide to put a course on (the schedule). So (if we get) five or more students requests then of course we’ll add it to our tutoring.
LV: And sometimes you might have a tutor that might have experience in something. Exactly. Have you ever just sent out an email saying “Hey does anybody have (this course)?”
LC: We certainly also reach out to our tutors and ask them if they can cover the course that a student is requesting. If a tutor can do that then we’ll go and hire another tutor to cover that course as well.
LV: So it’s not something that has to wait until following semester.
LC: Exactly. Don’t wait until the following semester. The more proactive you can be, the better it supports the services that we provide to you.
LV: And if someone has feedback that they want to give but maybe they want to be a little bit more anonymous about it or just make sure that the feedback gets to the right place. What’s a good way for them to give feedback?
LC: Within the CAEE, There’s a feedback box, its a small blue box and you can provide feedback or additional resources that you wish we offer. And it’s all anonymous and I check that personally every week.
LV: Excellent. And what else does the CAEE do besides tutoring? I know that you were mentioning earlier there’s a lot of other stuff that goes on.
LC: Yes I mentioned our CAEE student assistants manage all the different resources that we offered to students, and those include the success closet, which is basically professional attire to put on when you have an interview, but you may not necessarily have the resource to purchase new clothes for that interview. Aside from that we have textbooks, clickers, calculators, safety goggles, and any other materials you may need for a course, and we’re constantly assessing what a different things can be offered to students that they may not have access to, and that they wish they could.
LV: And if somebody needs to check something out, where do they go to start that process?
LC: You can either do it with myself, and I’m in the office in the back of the CAEE or you can go to one of those student assistants at the front desk, and the front desk staff is trained in all of this stuff
LV: Tell me a little bit more about the hours of the CAEE
LC: The CAEE is open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and on Fridays, we’re open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m..
LV: Tell me a little bit more about some of the workshops that you’re offering.
LC: Yeah definitely. So we’re offering the LinkedIn workshop, and that’s to help you develop your LinkedIn in a way that recruiters and companies find appealing to them. Also, the Career Center is working with us to provide the best feedback on that workshop, and that’s happening tomorrow February 5th from 1 to 2 PM if you’re interested. Another resource that we’re offering through these workshops is Cupcakes and Headshots, which Laura (is going to be the one that) takes your professional headshot. And that’s happening that same day on February 5th from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. right after the LinkedIn workshop
LV: And I like that we tell folks how to make their LinkedIn profiles look better and then also give the resources of, “Hey we didn’t just tell you to get a better picture, we’re also providing that better picture for you.”
LC: Exactly and you get to come and have a delicious cupcake too
LV: I feel like the cupcakes are the best thing
LC: And then other workshops we’re offering throughout the semester are gonna be: Finances After College, Leadership VS Management, Deal or No Deal, which is a workshop that Marvin Lopez developed to best negotiate job offers. And then we have mock interviews with the Career Center later on as well. And then to find out more about the upcoming events and RSVP (links) you should go to engineering.berkeley.edu/essevents
LV: And then we’re also we’re boosting our social media presence a little, so if you haven’t followed us yet on Facebook or Instagram were @ESSBerkeley. So you could find out more about events that we’re doing on there. Plus we’re working with other resources here on campus like I was saying in the intro, so as the library has workshops available or new services that they’re offering, we’re gonna make sure that we put that either in the newsletter, or also on social media, and just try to get more of the word out to everyone. So is there anything else that we didn’t talk about the center that you want to add to make sure students know for the semester. I know it’s a really great resource that’s easy to get to. You don’t have to have an appointment. It’s drop-in.
LC: Yeah definitely. And even if you don’t think you may need tutoring, it’s open as a study space with the resource of tutors being there. So if you have any questions from the material that you’re working on that you feel comfortable in, there’s always a tutor there to help you too.
LV: Oh I didn’t even think about that. That’s pretty nice. So if you’re struggling with something.
LC: Yeah if you feel like you’re confident in a course, but you know things may come up at any point in time. Tutors are there to help.
LV: Excellent. All right well thank you so much Luis for coming in and helping me continue my series that we’re doing this semester about resources. Still to come, we’re going to talk to the library, we’ve got the career center. So we’re trying to make sure that you know what resources you have available to you, and make sure you’re getting the most out of your college experience here. It’s part of the College of Engineering. So again thank you Luis
LC: Thank you for having me here. I look forward to seeing all the students listen to this podcast (come to the) CAEE and definitely keep a lookout for all those different resources that Laura will be presenting for you.
LV: And thank you everyone for tuning in to the Not So Secret Guide to Being a Berkeley Engineer. And I’ll talk to you next week. Thank you.