GradSWE Overseas, Liberia

Putting Our Best Foot Forward – LSWE Camp Day 4

Friday August 17, 2018

Courtney Wright, Mechanical Engineering, BSE ‘18, SWE at UofM

On Friday morning we awoke to a driving rainstorm. With water streaming across the paths through campus, our morning run group was once again forced to settle for an abbreviated indoor workout. Braving the water in our fashionable ponchos, we arrived at the dining hall to the warm welcome of oatmeal, eggs, and coffee.

Our morning session had a minor rain delay, but after a quick human knot challenge to get us moving, and taking several moments to reflect on some interesting highlights from Augustus’ talk about the future of renewable energy in Liberia, everyone was ready for Day #4 of the LSWE SUCCESS camp to begin.

Renewable Energy Case Study Competition

I led the morning seminar about Professional Development and Business Etiquette. Everyone rehearsed elevator pitches with partners and several students jumped up to present to the group. All participants were eager—in this activity, as in every other—to give and receive candid feedback. This straightforward form of communication has been a noticeable characteristic of the LSWE team, ever since I met several representatives from their leadership team at the 2016 SWE National Conference in Philadelphia. The LSWE members have been open to sharing their expectations for the camp and stories about how their individual LSWE experiences have enhanced their STEM education, professional career, and personal lives.

Chris and Quinnetta getting to know each other better

The LSWE students have also expressed their interest in our lives back in the United States, both at school in Ann Arbor, and of our respective homes in China, Florida, Tennessee, New Mexico, California, and Michigan. These conversations with the LSWE students have inspired many conversations between the UofM team, as we have shared our academic and extracurricular experiences, as well as our aspirations to change the world in fields such as solar energy, autonomous vehicles, biomedical devices, drug discovery, structural engineering, and athletic product development.   It has been interesting to learn from so many Geology and Mining Engineering students in LSWE, two disciplines which are not offered at the University of Michigan.

Image from iOS
Some of the LSWE team bonding
Courtney leading a professonal development workshop

Other topics explored in Friday’s morning session included the composition of an effective email and tips to successfully navigate a networking event. Students critiqued a few sample emails as a group; then several of the UofM students performed a skit comparing the good and bad behavior of job candidates at a networking event, and a few of the LSWE students jumped in to join the skit.  Afterward, everyone had a chance to share their personal stories and experiences while practicing interview questions. We wrapped up the morning with a brief discussion about how maintaining a professional social media presence can be a powerful tool for networking. (And had some fun taking new headshots)

A group photo taken while waiting on headshots
A student’s design for their team’s aircraft – Egg Drop Challenge

After lunch, we began constructing aircrafts for the egg drop challenge. With an arsenal of trash bags, cups, pipe-cleaners, straws, cotton balls, and more at our disposal, we were determined to protect the eggs from the plunge off the clock tower. While watching the test drops from the second level of classrooms; all of the air crafts looked promising, and should be fierce competitors at the official competition on Monday (Our money is on Team Scrambled Eggs though).

We wrapped up our Friday evening with a lively dinner accompanied by a continuous loop of Rihanna + Drake’s Work music video.  To celebrate a successful first week of camp, we then headed to downtown Monrovia, where several LSWE members showed us around several of their favorite spots!

The evening view from our apartment window.

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