Engineering Day

The Door to Success

High school students are interested in long-term outcomes of college education, and SECS opens doors to success

People at a table talking.

Dean Louay Chamra converses with Joseph Fedoronko, a prospective student, and his family. (Photo Credit: Robert Hall)

icon of a calendarMay 7, 2020

icon of a pencilBy Arina Bokas

Share this story

OU’s Engineering Day traditionally attracts hundreds of high school juniors and seniors, prospective transfer students, and their guests. As 600 attendees fill the halls of the Engineering Center and Oakland Student Center, they are eager to find out how the university would enable them to pursue their dreams and launch their professional careers.

In the last two years, national employment rates for engineering college graduates have been showing a trend toward underemployment. Forbes states that three in 10 engineering majors are underemployed, taking a first job that does not require a college degree. Thus, when looking for the right college, many high schoolers put the degree’s long-term outcomes at the top of their list.

SECS responds with reassuring statistics: According to the survey of SECS undergraduate students that graduated in 2018-2019, 93 percent completed an internship and 96 percent were employed in their field of study.

As participants tour laboratories, see scientific demonstrations, learn about majors and careers, and talk to SECS alumni, their enthusiasm noticeably grows.

“I see their eyes light up when I tell them about the internship opportunities and job offers that I received,” says Tia Sherrard, an SECS alumnus and an engineer at ESG Automotive.

Sherrard, who earned her bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering in 2017, received two job offers from her first-choice companies well before her graduation. She continues to come back to OU to share her experiences and tips with prospective students. “I tell them, if you get an engineering degree from OU, you will get a job before you graduate,” she says.

Sherrard’s story certainly hits home for Joseph Fedoronko, a Saline High School junior, who attends the event with his parents, Kathy and Brian Fedoronko, engineers themselves. “I am looking for an immersive engineering school that offers robust internship opportunities and high placement in industry,” says Fedoronko, as he weighs his options for a mechanical engineering degree at various colleges. “I am particularly impressed with the amount and the variety of the labs; many schools don’t have them,” he adds.

Aaron McElmeel, a senior at Detroit Catholic Central School in Novi, agrees, “The SECS job placement rates and applied, hands-on modern learning are most impressive. This is a quality program.”

“We want our students to turn their imagination into innovation,” explains Louay M. Chamra, Ph.D., dean of the School of Engineering and Computer Science. “Close proximity to the high-tech industry gives us unique research and internship opportunities within the automotive, energy, IT, defense, manufacturing, cybersecurity, software, medical, and other industries. We care about our students and their success.”

The care that SECS has for students is also evident when attendees are invited to have lunch and converse with numerous SECS faculty members in an informal setting. Debatosh Debnath, Ph.D., professor of computer science and engineering, views it as an important opportunity to personally connect with his prospective students and help them make an informed decision. “A big part of teaching is helping students be successful. If I help at least one person in a positive way today, it is well worth my time,” Dr. Debnath says.

Admissions Office, Study Abroad, Financial Aid Office, Advising Office, Guided Learning Center, Women in Engineering, the Diversity Programs Office, and various student organizations are also available throughout the day to tend to attendees.

When Dean Chamra addresses guests at the conclusion of the event, he expresses hope that SECS meets, or even exceeds, their high expectations. Participants’ faces confirm his thought: From laboratories and classrooms, to internships and job placement, SECS gears them up for success.

Share this story