Engineering Mentors return for fresh start

Students attend an event held by the Tufts Engineering Mentors, featuring a Tesla vehicle. Courtesy Michael Kenny

Tufts Engineering Mentors, back with several new programs and events for the semester, kicked off the start of its second year yesterday on the Tisch Library roof.

The group, which was founded by John and Michael Kenny in fall 2013, creates mentor relationships between underclassmen and upperclassmen engineers by hosting social events, workshops and speaker events throughout the year.

According to John, a senior, the mentorship program begins with a sort of speed dating event, after which mentors and mentees are paired. Social events help to foster relationships and further interactions. 

This semester Tufts Engineering Mentors will host three social events, several workshops and multiple speaker events designed to give students skills they would not receive directly through the engineering curriculum, John said.

Speaker events in particular provide an opportunity for mentees to get additional advice, according to Michael, a senior.

“We’re inviting C-level executive speakers to come in and speak to students as a group, so that’s another form of mentorship,” he said.

Michael added that Tufts Engineering Mentors is working to gear the speaker series — though they are open to the public — toward undergraduates.

“The reason we came up with the speaker series was because we noticed that although there are speakers coming into the school on a semi-frequent basis, the speakers really weren’t targeted to the undergraduate students,” he said. “Graduates go to [speaker events]. Faculty go to them, but there’s really nothing for undergraduates and there’s no speaker topics that undergrads are interested in.” 

This year, Tufts Engineering Mentors also added a “Women in Engineering” speaker series to offer more guidance to female students in the field, Michael said. They also hope to add additional layers to their mentorship program by incorporating alumni and faculty, many of whom have been very supportive, according to John. 

“The alumni — they know the problems they encountered in college,” John said. “After you graduate, you’re kind of dumped into the sea of applicants where you don’t necessarily know what to do. So now you have underclassmen mentees getting mentored by upperclassmen who’re getting mentored by graduates and alumni.” 

The two brothers are also looking to expand networking opportunities with companies in the area. 

“Our goal with [the networking events] is not only to bring in speakers from those companies but also to have those relationships foster into job opportunities for Tufts students,” Michael said.

Tufts Engineering Mentors has already been successful in providing students with opportunities they wouldn’t normally have. 

Jacob Isaacson, a sophomore mentee who joined the program last year, was able to find an internship as a freshman using skills he attained from the program.

“I learned how to interview from one of the events which I think was really helpful when I went and had to interview for my internship,” he said. 

Bryan Zhang, a senior who joined the program as a mentor last year, said he is happy to be able to give underclassmen opportunities that he wishes he could have had and feels that he also benefited from his time mentoring. 

“From a more career-oriented perspective, it was a great way to meet people, both socially and professionally, and there’s definitely a lot of potential for networking,” he said.