Each year, 45 schools from around the nation come together for the National Association of Engineering Student Councils’ Engineering Leadership Summit. At the conference, the schools meet up to learn how to better connect with administration, gather event ideas and gain ways to improve their councils.
This year, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Engineering Student Advisory Board selected 11 students to attend the conference from March 15-16 in Fort Collins, Colorado. At the end of the conference banquet, UNL’s eSAB group won the top award at the conference: Most Outstanding Large Council in the nation.
Alex Hruby, a senior biological systems engineering major, serves as the president of eSAB and said these conferences allow them to bring members who currently hold, or want to hold, leadership roles within eSAB. Students who attend the conference can use it as a learning experience to gain more insights and ideas from other students all over the country to help improve UNL’s group.
“Going to these conferences is really beneficial because you get leadership development, but you also get a lot of ideas that you can integrate into the group as a person in a leadership position,” Hruby said.
Throughout the year, eSAB works as a point of contact between engineering school administration and students. The board gives input on any major decisions made within the college, such as building renovations or course curriculum. Over the past few years, eSAB has grown exponentially and currently has over 70 members. Each member is on a committee and plays a role in planning events or listening to students’ needs.
“Our main mission is to really connect students with upper administration and faculty in the college,” Hruby said. “The dean will come and ask us questions, and we give him responses based on what we think the entire college at large feels.”
Along with working with the dean and administration within the college, eSAB aims to make all engineering students feel included and involved by hosting events throughout the year. Engineering Week celebrates the discipline with daily events, and Rock the Block welcomes students at the beginning of the school year with an outdoor party. They also host an annual dodgeball tournament to encourage engineering students to come together outside of the classroom.
“We just try to do fun things to try and make sure engineers know they are appreciated and that we do hard work throughout the year, but there is a lot that can be celebrated,” Hruby said.
Each year, eSAB attends a Midwest Regional Conference in the fall and attends the national Engineering Leadership Summit in the spring. For the past four years, UNL’s eSAB has won the Most Outstanding Large Council, which means they reach at least 2,000 students, at the regional competition. According to Ethan Yungdahl, a sophomore mechanical engineering major who attended the regional conference, after a strong year of events, he said they could win the title at the national conference as well.
Yungdahl assisted in writing the essay to apply for the award and said it was a good way to show everyone at the national conference that UNL’s eSAB has stepped up its program. In the essay, he mentioned Nebraska had won the regional award for the past four years, along with descriptions of each of their events and how successful each of them were among the students.
“We got it because we are really active and we have plans to incorporate diversity and have really big and successful events,” he said. “I was happy that we got it because anyone there that I talked to kind of looks down on us because we don’t have a ton of stuff [in Nebraska], but we still have a good enough school to get an award like this.”
Throughout the conference, members vote on legislation for NAESC and attend a variety of skill sessions. Council chats are also held for different schools to discuss what each advisory board does well and talk about challenges or advice they may have.
“When I sit down with people at a different university, I always like to ask what classes they are in and how they are teaching those classes, because I can then talk to our curriculum person and figure out if those ideas could be effective or not,” Yungdahl said.
According to Hruby, winning the Most Outstanding Large Council in the nation was reassuring to the executive team members, as it proved their efforts to plan big events for the students paid off.
“It was pretty humbling, as well as just knowing that most of our executive team was there, so we were able to say we actually made a difference this year,” Hruby said. “And it’s really nice to have that recognition that you did a good job and people know that.”