Discover UCLA Engineering Virtual Event Successfully Reaches New Students and Bolsters Enrollment
The 2021 Discover UCLA Engineering was held in April and upheld a long tradition now in its third decade. Due to the pandemic, the day-long program pivoted for the first time in 2020 from a hands-on, interactive, on-campus showcase to a remote-only format. Lessons learned from that experience helped evolve this year’s event into an even more successful, engaging experience for more than 400 attendees and volunteers.
Statements of Intent to Register went up 53% shortly after the event, demonstrating one of the school’s greatest increases during the recruitment season.
Leading up to the event, the school made sure relevant resources were easily accessible online. They included a recorded welcome message from Jayathi Murthy, Ronald and Valerie Sugar Dean of UCLA Samueli, with highlights of an enriched and value-added UCLA Engineering degree.
“You’re going to be working with top faculty working in areas such as engineering and medicine and biology, sustainability, climate change, AI, machine learning,” Murthy said. “We’ve got a really vibrant undergraduate research program, so you’ll be able to work in the labs of all of these wonderful faculty and learn so much by working with them.”
The website also featured snapshots from the 2019 in-person event, testimonials from current students, as well as vital research and internship information.
The school hosted live sessions throughout the day, with introductions to each of the seven engineering departments’ chairs, vice chairs and multiple faculty members. In addition, each departmental session included a panel of alumni and student leaders. Office of Academic and Student Affairs associate dean Richard Wesel participated in all live portions of the event and went to each session to answer questions for students.
The remote format made it possible for more alumni to participate in the event without the constraints of distance and travel that come with in-person events.
“Usually we’re limited to local alumni who can make it to campus for a day, but in a remote setting we were able to cast a wider net to secure the 40-50 alumni volunteers across all seven departments regardless of their location,” said William Goodin, B.S. ’71, M.S. ’75, Ph.D. ’82, an alumni advisor of the UCLA Samueli Engineering Alumni Association and a longtime alumni recruiter for the event.
Every year, Goodin ensures the participation of a diverse group of graduates from across the engineering industry. This year, he secured support from alumni representing a wide range of disciplines, including Disney Imagineering and those who worked on the COVID-19 vaccines.
“I continued to be involved with Discover Engineering Day as an undergraduate student because I wanted to highlight the many opportunities and supportive community at UCLA Samueli to our admits,” said Richa Ghosh.
Many alumni started volunteering for the event after their own experience at Discover UCLA Engineering, paying it forward for fellow Bruin engineers.
“I continued to be involved with Discover Engineering Day as an undergraduate student because I wanted to highlight the many opportunities and supportive community at UCLA Samueli to our admits,” said Richa Ghosh ’20, a chemical engineering graduate. “I also wanted to give back to a community that helped me grow professionally and personally as an engineer and person. As an alumnus, I continue to volunteer … so that we can continue to recruit amazing undergraduate students.”
Alumni not only serve as ambassadors to the school, but they often are able to share perspectives valuable to incoming students. They also are often in a position to recruit and hire UCLA graduates, so their attendance allowed a preview of UCLA career fairs.
“If [prospective students] are able to picture themselves doing all the wonderful things and have access to so many exciting experiences with great people who will support them along the way, chances are they will choose to come to UCLA,” said Alex Sin ’17, an electrical engineering graduate who volunteered at the event.
The event highlighted the many student-run organizations that are often the foundation of what it means to become a Bruin engineer.
With more than 50 engineering-related clubs on campus, UCLA Samueli has robust offerings to assist and enrich the student experience. Whether it’s running review sessions for challenging courses, providing opportunities to hone skills in project competitions or mentoring local elementary school students in STEM, the clubs actively invest in their fellow students interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
“There is no question about the prestige and quality of the academics,” Sin added. “What high school seniors do not know are the student clubs they can join, real hands-on projects they can work on, research opportunities, prospective graduate studies and job opportunities, and most importantly, the stories of UCLA students and alumni.”