How do you make it more valuable for college students to join a Student Chapter? You bring them together.
As a freshman, I joined the Georgia Southern Student Chapter, which is supported by the Savannah Post, and really enjoyed the activities that were offered. I was elected Treasurer in 2015. But even though our chapter offered many interesting opportunities, such as tours of local companies’ plants, we had a hard time getting people to attend general meetings.
In the spring of 2016, I had the chance to attend the SAME Student Leaders Workshop. It was a great experience and I left excited about what SAME could offer Georgia Southern students. Upon returning, I worked closely with the other officers to push our chapter to greater and higher goals. A few months later, I was nominated and became the President of the Georgia Southern Student Chapter.
When I was at the Student Leaders Workshop, I was introduced to SAME’s 2020 Vision, of being “recognized as the multi-disciplined integrator of military, public, private, and academic national infrastructure-related capabilities to produce viable solutions for America’s national security.” The focus on being the “multi-disciplined integrator” snagged my attention. I was excited to see an organization attempt to cross boundaries of study. At Georgia Southern, our subject areas in engineering are housed in different buildings. There is little to no interaction between majors. And all the other professional organizations are focused on a specific discipline of engineering. I had the idea that these organizations might be able work together on the small scale of Georgia Southern’s campus, just as SAME is doing on a larger scale across the country.
During spring 2016, I reached out to all the engineering and similarly focused organizations on campus to gauge their interest in forming a council. The idea was met with great zeal. We held an interest meeting, and had representatives from most of the organizations attend. We discussed how the group, if founded, could help our organizations and the school. We eventually established the Engineering Organization Partnership (EOP).
EOP is comprised of leadership of each of the participating organizations. This makes the partnership extremely powerful, with driven people who want to make a difference. This also helps with any plans put in place with the rotation of students getting co-ops or internships. EOP held regular meetings during 2016-2017, with great support from our parent organizations. The main goal of EOP is creating networking between organizations. This has helped our chapter greatly.
In one of our joint meetings, we partnered with ASME, and had Lt. Col. Daren Payne, USA, a past President of the Savannah Post, come from the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, and bring some of his staff and technologies. We had a great turnout of around 60 people, which is more than either organization had ever hosted on its own. We also hosted a joint meeting with the SWE Chapter, where we had a few members of the Savannah Post come and discuss their experiences of being women in the engineering industry.
Since applying the SAME 2020 Vision at Georgia Southern, we have had great success in growing our chapter and increasing the view of our group among fellow students. Now through EOP, we are ready to see our chapter grow far beyond what it has been in the past.
Contributed by Nolan Jackson, Mechanical Engineering student at Georgia Southern University; firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Article first published in the September-October issue of The Military Engineer.]