Engineering at Illinois CARE fully launched
Gabrielle Irvin, ECE ILLINOIS
- CARE, located at the fourth floor in the Grainger Engineering Library, offers resources, services, and expertise to support students in achieving their academic and professional goals.
- CARE is currently staffed with 30 undergraduate engineering students, and provides students with workshops, tutoring, and exam review sessions.
- CARE tutors represent a wide range of majors and student demographics.
The College of Engineering hosted an open house and ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the development of the Center for Academic Resources in Engineering (CARE) on March 26. CARE, located on the fourth floor in the Grainger Engineering Library, offers resources, services, and expertise to support students in achieving their academic and professional goals.
Although students have heavily used the space for studying and collaborative learning prior to the launch of CARE, CARE Director, Morrill Engineering Program Director, and Assistant Dean of the College of Engineering Ivan Favila said that the special opportunity to implement programming and resources will further enhance the student studying experience.
“We want to complement what the students are already doing,” Favila said. “Engineering can be a highly collaborative area of study, and we have been able to enhance that student experience.”
CARE provides students with:
- 14 private group study rooms, furnished with a writable surface (four of the study rooms are equipped with a 55” flat screen monitor with a laptop connection, and a computer work station)
- Two collaboration tables, equipped with a 32” flat screen, HD monitor and 6 laptop adapters to allow students to share the screen and collaborate on group projects
- 136 independent study carrels, equipped with outlets
- 36 dual-monitor computer workstations equipped with more than 100 installed software packages
- Six double-sided, frosted glass writable surfaces (partitions) to enhance group work
CARE is currently staffed by 30 undergraduate engineering students, and provides students with workshops, tutoring, and exam review sessions. CARE programs include:
- Free walk-in tutoring and peer advising in more than 36 courses
- Students Helping Students Study Hall, a space provided to students to study a particular subject with a CARE leader on staff, available to answer questions or tutor (current subjects include MATH 231, 241; PHYS 211,212; and ECE 110)
- ECE 110 office hours, ECE 110 women support group weekly meetings, and ECE 110 Supervised Study Sessions (SSS)
- Exam review sessions for MATH 231, 241; PHYS 211,212; ECE 110; and TAM 210/211, 212, 251
CARE not only provides students with an abundance of new tools and resources, but also offers students who show distinction in the classroom and demonstrate a high level of commitment to the College of Engineering the opportunity to gain leadership skills, enhance the learning experience for the engineering community, and keep fundamental concepts fresh in their minds.
Alex Politakis, a junior in computer engineering and CARE tutor, said working at CARE benefits him academically, and challenges him to develop his communication skills. CARE allows students to collaborate, which in turn encourages them to verbally articulate problems and solutions.
“More complex engineering problems always require collaboration, and really effective tutoring is challenging for many of the same reasons collaborative work is – it's often hard to be completely explicit about your thought process with another person,” Politakis said. “Showing other people how to work a problem – and moreover making them understand the logic behind working a problem the way you do – is a fantastic exercise in arguing your logic to another person,” Politakis said.
CARE tutors represent a wide range of majors and student demographics. Tutors and peer mentors reflect the diversity of Engineering at Illinois and are inclusive of students traditionally underrepresented in engineering. For instance, 33 percent of the tutors are women, while only 20 percent of engineers are women.
“We try to have a good selection of students from all the different majors,” said Dana Tempel, CARE program director. “Because we also offer peer advising, we want to make sure that if students come for questions about their major and want to know about personal experiences from other students, we have the staff that they can identify with. We are deliberate about making sure that the students in the College of Engineering see themselves in our staff.”
Corporate funding provided to the College of Engineering sponsors student scholarship and research opportunities, including CARE programming and resources. Caterpillar Inc., manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines, and diesel-electric locomotives, provided CARE with furniture and equipment.
“We’re expecting this to significantly enhance the experience of the undergraduate students, and we are expecting that retention numbers are positively impacted,” Favila said.