As eight students step onto the large “shaker table” in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences’ Noise and Vibration Lab, their nervous smiles quickly turn to laughter as the platform – used for product and package testing and to simulate shipping environments – begins to vibrate. The students have just had their first experience with Western Michigan University engineering research.
The college is welcoming nearly 600 first-year and transfer students for Fall 2019, and more than 300 of them descended upon Floyd Hall for Passport Day on August 26. Passport Day offers new engineering and applied sciences’ students the opportunity to explore the college’s departments, labs, and registered student organizations and learn their way around the 343,000 square-foot building before classes begin. As students visit departments and labs or interact with student organizations, they receive stamps in their passports (booklets listing multiple stops around the building). Later, they turn their passports in for a t-shirt and the chance to win prizes.
“It’s nice for new students – especially undecided students – to see the labs where they’ll be learning and working and to tour the building to figure out where everything is before classes start,” says Anetra Grice, STEM Talent Expansion Program manager and Passport Day coordinator. “It’s also a good way for students to meet the faculty in a low-pressure, fun situation.”
Students’ enjoyment of the day was apparent. Chemical engineering freshman Max Vreman, from Mount Clemens, Michigan, was part of a group who created small structures from spaghetti and marshmallows and put them to the test in the Earthquake Simulation Lab. Vreman was pleased that his painstakingly-built structure remained stable despite the vigorous shaking delivered by the earthquake simulator.
Vreman says Passport Day and other Fall Welcome activities only reinforce his decision to attend the University. “This is right,” he says about coming to WMU. “I love the (main) campus, and the engineering campus was a huge part of my decision to come here.”
As she waited her turn to apply a gold Bronco logo to a newly-pressed frisbee in the Plastics Lab, freshman Ashlin Arnett says a cousin’s positive experience at Western prompted her to come to the University. The chemical engineering major from Farmington, Michigan is excited to start chemistry class and says she found Passport Day fascinating because she “likes to see all of the different equipment” in Floyd Hall’s labs.
The college’s state-of-the-art labs and up-to-date equipment labs drew Sanjay Unni, a mechanical engineering international transfer student from Malaysia, to WMU. “I like the big campus and the labs, particularly the new equipment.”
While the engineering campus and Floyd Hall were essential factors in these new students choosing to enroll at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo was a draw, too. Justin Nemcovic, a mechanical engineering freshman from Chicago, Illinois, says he appreciates Kalamazoo’s size and the quality of education offered by the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “Being that I’m from a big city, I wanted a bit of a smaller city. And Western has a great engineering program.”