Greek Life and Engineering

CSU students choose to be involved with many different organizations on campus for many different reasons. In addition to engineering related clubs and organizations, some students become involved with on-campus fraternity or sorority organizations. April Rieger, is a current member and the previous president of the Chi Zeta chapter of Chi Omega at CSU and is a senior studying Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Spanish.

April (center) and some of her Chi Omega sisters

 

Why did you choose to join a sorority in the first place and were you worried that it might conflict with engineering and other school work?

When I was a freshman, I was worried that joining a sorority would interfere with my studies so I did not go through the recruitment process that year. By the end of freshman year however, I realized that I could handle my engineering school work and wanted to get involved in something outside of engineering. That lead me to my decision to rush in the fall semester of my sophomore year. I had friends at other schools who really enjoyed being a part of Greek life, and I wanted to get to know more people outside of my major. As I was going through recruitment, I was told over and over again that I could make greek life a small time commitment or a large one in my schedule, and that I would get out of it what I put into it. After being a member of Chi Omega for three years, I would echo this statement. I joined expecting to make it a small commitment still fearing it would conflict with my studies, however several different opportunities presented themselves and I became very involved. Even after becoming more involved, I was still able to stay on top of my school work and it gave me additional motivation to do well. In Chi Omega, high GPAs are rewarded and if my homework was done then I had time to participate in sisterhood events and socials. Joining a sorority, studying engineering, and working as an ambassador has definitely made me a very busy individual, but I still enjoy doing it all!

How has being in a sorority improved your professionalism and/or other skills you have learned?

Being apart of a sorority has allowed me to grow immensely as an individual. Throughout my three years of membership, I have gone through the recruitment process (on both sides), lived in a house full of 55 other women, served as Vice President, President, and attended our national convention. Serving as Vice President taught me how to approach individuals that are struggling academically and provide them with resources to be successful. Each individual has a different style and I helped each of my sisters with an individually tailored academic improvement plan to get them back on track. As president, I learned how to effectively communicate between a chapter full of women, an executive board, advisors, alumni members, and regional directors. I also learned various leadership skills, such as knowing when and how to delegate tasks and when to step in and help other executive members out with their responsibilities. I was also in charge of running several meetings per week and making sure all necessary topics were covered in those meeting agendas. Serving in these two roles also taught me a lot about effective teamwork as I got to serve as a member of the team while also as the leader. It was important to give my input but also to listen to others. I learned to trust my team, but also to expect that they would do their part. In my engineering studies, I have also had opportunities to work in a team, however we were doing design projects, not running a chapter of 200+ women! Both experiences have taught me a lot about working with others and have given me skills that I will use in the future. Being in these roles also allowed me to be a resource for women to come to for support or for conflict resolution. I got to know the women in my chapter a lot better and got leadership experience that I never expected to.

What advice would you give to a new engineering student and a new member of fraternity and sorority life at CSU?

To the new engineering student, I would say engineering is hard but that you can do it! I would also recommend to pick one thing to get involved with that first year. My freshman year I wasn’t involved in anything because I was too concerned with my studies. While your GPA is important, it is more important to be a well-rounded student with diverse and meaningful experiences (leadership, internships, service, etc.). I went from being involved in nothing to becoming involved in Greek life, working as an ambassador, volunteering for Ram Welcome, and joining Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honors Fraternity. To a new member in a fraternity or a sorority, the first year is can be strange, but stick with it because you will meet amazing individuals that will be some of your best friends and support for the rest of your life! It also makes the campus feel smaller and will help you to meet people outside of engineering.

Professional Development & Engineering Internships

Ben Working on his Senior Design Project

Hi! My name is Ben Lorden, I am a senior from Littleton, CO studying Mechanical Engineering . I have thrived during my time at CSU, growing both in the classroom and outside of it. My education has been extended outside of the classroom by the internships I have had over the past two summers, which were highlighted a while ago by the college. In review, the first was with InScope Energy, an energy management firm in Northern Virginia where I worked to research new business opportunities and helped to develop their technologies further. In the second, I worked with Siemens as a technical sales intern, visiting customer sites and learning about the industries they serve. These opportunities helped to develop me as an individual and have prepared me as I now begin transitioning into the workforce. Internships are just one example of the countless opportunities for professional development I have at CSU. Others that I have appreciated are my roles as a Student Ambassador for the Scott College of Engineering and as a Presidential Ambassador for the Colorado State University as a whole.

How has being an Ambassador for the Scott College of Engineering as well as a Presidential Ambassador impacted your experiences at CSU?

In my role as a Student Ambassador for the Scott College of Engineering, I have the pleasure of showing off amazing things that are taking place in our college to prospective engineering students. I have been able to grow in areas like public speaking and leadership through this job, as I have spoken to many groups of varying sizes. This position has been very fun and rewarding while impacting the CSU experience of prospective students from their very first moments on campus to helping them find an engineering major that will lead to a lifetime of learning and success.

As a Presidential Ambassador, I have worked with student perspective from a different approach, interacting with CSU alumni and donors to the university. I have been trained in etiquette, leadership, philanthropy, and service through this role. I have been able to attend black tie events to thank donors, sit in the box suites at the Rocky Mountain Showdown with university leadership, and go to an away football game in Minnesota, interacting with the alumni association there. Being a part of this group of excellent students has shaped my CSU story and has developed my professional skills in networking, and making connections with others.

How has the Scott College of Engineering helped you personally to develop professionally and as a leader?

One of the key components of the Scott College of Engineering is the emphasis that the program places on team projects. Interactions with others can be tough, especially in stressful situations like the engineering design projects we have, but the lessons I have learned about communication and leadership in these settings is invaluable and will serve me for a lifetime. Gaining experience both as a project leader and as a team member has been enlightening to me, developing my skills in connecting with others, making compromises when needed, and advocating for my opinions graciously.

How have PLI (Professional Leadership Institute) sessions helped you to further your engineering education?

The Professional Leadership Institute is a series of lectures and presentations that are required by most programs in engineering. These sessions emphasize various leadership categories such as ethics, diversity and public engagement. Sometimes large companies will attend and present on their respective industries and innovation taking place in the market, offering advice about the culture of their companies and they may even provide networking opportunities for potential internships or jobs! Other times it might be a session on how to create a LinkedIn profile and how to create an effective engineering resume. Regardless of the presentation, these sessions have impacted my view on leadership and professionalism, and have raised an awareness of the issues facing engineers in the workforce today.

How has your involvement with professional development programming prepared you for a career in engineering?

I look forward to getting into my career in engineering so that I can evaluate how the skills I have learned in school can carry over into the real world. I am sure that there are differences, but I also trust that the skills of communication, teamwork, leadership, etiquette, and service will serve me well going forward. I am so thankful for the well rounded experience that CSU has given me, beyond just an excellent engineering education, in both the leadership and professional development realms.