Involvement: an important part of education

NIU's Supermileage teamWhat’s the biggest of advice that we hear from alumni? “Get as much real-world experience as you can while you’re a student,” said Carl Modesette, director of product engineering at UniCarriers Americas Corp.

Getting involved in student organizations, internships and clubs has many benefits. Of course, it’s a great way to make friends and establish a social network on campus. But more than that, it can help you figure out where your interests are and what career you might be for you. Plus, the experience you gain will help you land that first job in your field.

That’s just what engineering graduate student Josh Helsper did. As captain of NIU’s SAE Supermileage Team, his team developed a gasoline-powered vehicle that can travel more than 1,700 miles on one gallon of gas. They won first place in the overall efficiency category in the Shell Eco-Marathon Americas Mileage Challenge competition at Sonoma Raceway this past April.

The torpedo-shaped car was the first time NIU won the top honors in its category. The Shell Eco-marathon Americas competition ran with teams from 28 high schools and 60 colleges representing eight countries.

“Thanks to my involvement in NIU Supermileage, I have been able to achieve so much more than I thought possible. All of this experience has given me a significant advantage when applying for internships and jobs, but that being said, being a part of the team isn’t all business,” said Helsper. “I’ve made several lifelong friends and had a lot of great times working on projects and going to our competitions. I highly rec commend any CEET student, especially freshmen, to get involved in a club and stick with it, because it will pay dividends in the long run.”

The opportunities to get involved are endless…especially when you think “outside the box” or outside the campus….like Nickolas Thiesen did. He volunteers his time to coach the robotics club at DeKalb High School, the “Crowbotics.”

During his senior year, after he had chosen NIU, he reached out to the Crowbotics coach who agreed to have him mentor students to pass on his knowledge and experience to future students.
“My involvement with the Crowbotics has benefited me in many ways while at NIU,” said Thiesen.

“Being a mentor has taught me how to effectively pass on my knowledge and experience to others, how to manage those who are working under me, and alongside those who are working with me to accomplish a common goal. The friends I have made, both through Crowbotics and other groups here at NIU, are now some of my closest friends.”

CEET has more than 20 student organizations and clubs to engage students in interesting hands-on learning opportunities. Find one here.

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