Fall Quarter Kicks Off with UCLA Engineering Welcome Day for New Students

Engineering Welcome Day

UCLA Samueli

More than 600 new students attended UCLA Samueli’s Engineering Welcome Day.


Oct 13, 2023

UCLA Samueli Newsroom

The UCLA Samueli School of Engineering hosted more than 600 first-year and new transfer students at its annual Engineering Welcome Day Sept. 27, one day before the start of instruction.

The daylong event featured inspirational speeches from school leadership, academic advisors, career counselors and alumni representatives, as well as student club expos with fun activities and a tour of the school led by engineering student ambassadors. 

Ah-Hyung “Alissa” Park
Dean Ah-Hyung “Alissa” Park welcomed new engineering students.

Ah-Hyung “Alissa” Park, who took the helm Sep. 1 as the Ronald and Valerie Sugar Dean, gave her first formal address to students at the event, which took place in the Court of Sciences. 

Park congratulated the students on their admission to UCLA and offered advice on mentorship, time management and the importance of exploring activities outside one’s comfort zone. She also noted 40% of incoming first-year students were women — a historical high for the school — and more than 20% of incoming students were from communities underrepresented in engineering.

“The most important thing that I want you to remember is that you belong here,” Park said. “No matter your background, every one of you is welcome in the Bruin family and celebrated for your unique qualifications. You’re an integral part of our team that represents the best Bruins have to offer.”

Engineering Welcome Day was organized by the school’s largest student-run umbrella organization, the Engineering Society at UCLA (ESUC). The event was opened by Neha Kulkarni, a fourth-year bioengineering transfer student and president of ESUC. Kulkarni told students about the benefits of joining one or more of UCLA’s 1,200 student-run organizations, nearly 60 of them in UCLA Samueli alone. The clubs, said Kulkarni, strive to keep students engaged academically, professionally, socially and mentally. 

Other speakers included professors Richard Wesel, associate dean of academic and student affairs; Veronica Santos, associate dean of equity, diversity, and inclusion and faculty affairs; and Jacob Schmidt, director of the school’s Makerspace. William Herrera, director of undergraduate research and internship programs, introduced the students to the school’s robust program to facilitate industry networking and career opportunities.  

Students got to know the campus better through a scavenger hunt of South Campus and school tours guided by engineering student ambassadors. The scavenger hunt was hosted by MentorSEAS, an undergraduate-run organization that matches every incoming engineering student with a mentor of the same major to help them navigate their first year at UCLA.

Rounding out the day was the Engineering Exploration Fair, where dozens of student organizations set up booths to meet and recruit prospective members. The organizations serve a variety of engineering student interests in the professional, cultural and social spheres.

BEAM members

UCLA Samueli
Bruins Encouraging Active Minds (BEAM) at UCLA showcased their club at the fair.

Samantha Tinney, a third-year mechanical engineering major and external vice president of Bruins Encouraging Active Minds (BEAM), was at the fair recruiting new students. 

“I attended Engineering Welcome Day as a freshman and signed up for all the clubs,” Tinney said. “BEAM was one of the ones that stuck and it’s a really great community.” 

Each week, BEAM members visited under-resourced elementary schools across Los Angeles to nurture students’ interest in science, technology, engineering and math. Tinney said a similar visit when she was in high school put her on the path to engineering.

William Zhou, a second-year computer science student, attended the fair to represent AI Safety at UCLA. The research-focused club is dedicated to issues of reliability, accountability and ethics in the development of powerful artificial intelligence systems such as ChatGPT. Zhou, who attended Engineering Welcome Day his freshman year, said he thought the event was useful for new Bruins just like it was for him.

“Listening to the speeches was really inspirational, but joining the clubs here was what led me into the Linux User Group and later AI Safety,” Zhou said. I don’t think I would be in this club today if not for Engineering Welcome Day.”

For those who didn’t have a chance to attend the event, it’s never too late to get involved in the school community — a list of engineering-focused clubs and abundant undergraduate research opportunities can be found on the school’s main website.


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