By Nia Jones
The Civil & Environmental Engineering's Community Engaged Education (CEE²) program hosted its first public event on Thursday, October 27th. The day started with welcoming 25 high school seniors from Skyline High School's Green Energy Academy. The day ended with CEE^2's first workshop titled, Introduction to CEE². The purpose of having both events on the same day was to maximize the experience for the high schoolers while creating an inclusive environment that was true to the mission of CEE².
The CEE² staff Director Nia Jones and the Skyline High School teacher collaborated on the agenda for the visit to maximize the time on campus. The day consisted of a meet & greet with the Chair of the department, Mark Stacey, followed by social time with undergraduate and graduate student volunteers. Social time would not be complete without donuts, cinnamon rolls, muffins, and orange juice to get the day started right. After the students munched and chatted, it was time for campus tours! To keep the tours more intimate, the students were broken into three smaller groups and led by Berkeley student volunteers to see the campus. The Berkeley student volunteers were allowed to take the students in any direction they pleased, and they were required to show them the student center and a few libraries. After the tour, the students were allowed the opportunity to have lunch on their own. The afternoon was filled with more activities, so it was important to give them a break before wearing them out.
After lunch, the students were told they had a surprise! The surprise was taking the students up to the top of the Campanile. The students were divided into two groups where. One group went to the surprise, while the other group stayed in our structures lab for a brief tour. After 45 minutes, the students switched positions, so each had an opportunity to experience the Campanile and the structures lab. The students were visibly tired from all the walking around, so the next event involved sitting and listening to undergraduate and graduate students in an unstructured panel discussion. The topic of the panel was college, and the panelists were given the opportunity to share their stories and experiences since being in college. The high schoolers were given the opportunity to ask questions and gain insights from the panelists.
After the panel, the students were given another small break to relax before the main event of the day - the Introduction to CEE² workshop! The workshop was marketed to staff, faculty, students (undergraduate and graduate), and the special guests were the high schoolers from Skyline Highschool. There were three guest speakers, two Ph.D. students from the CEE department (Bavisha Kalyan and Tvetene Carlson) and one high schooler from Skyline High School's 11th-grade Green Energy Academy class. The guest speakers were tasked with giving a brief overview of their type of community-engaged education through research projects. The event was very successful, and of course, there was yummy food at the end.
Before the attendees and participants received a plate of food, they were required to fill out a survey to share insights of their experience with the event. Here are a few responses about what the attendees learned:
“I learned that people actually wanna make a change to better our community.” - High School student
“Community engagement takes a village, and it is important to understand the important stakeholders.” - Graduate Student
“CEE is the first department on campus that offers a community building program like CEE² “ - Staff Member
“My favorite concept was the idea that we both bring Berkeley to the community and the community to Berkeley” - Graduate Student
Overall, the overwhelming majority of the attendees rated the event 5 out of 5 and provided great feedback for our future events! In conclusion, the kick-off event was a huge success! We look forward to having more community engagement events that include community organizations and their perspectives. We are always open to new ideas, so please feel free to reach out to Nia Jones (firstname.lastname@example.org) directly if you have any leads.