Engineers Week celebrates students, hosts speaker Leland Melvin

First-year “Meet your Major” event takes place during Tufts Engineers Week at the Science and Engineering Complex on Feb. 18. Courtesy Sebastián Fernández

Tufts Engineers Week, a weeklong event featuring networking opportunities, a design challenge and a lecture from Leland Melvin, was held from Feb. 17–25. A celebration of engineering, the events were organized concurrently with National Engineers Week

“The real reason why we run Engineers Week is because it is a celebration of all the things that engineering students and professional practicing engineers do,” Chris Swan, dean of undergraduate education at the School of Engineering, said. “It’s also a realization of all the work that needs to be done.” 

Engineers Week began in 2008 as an informal competition between different Tufts engineering departments. Inspired by the Engineering Student Council, the event began to run a more organized program with the help of the engineering school and Tufts about five years ago.

“[Engineers Week] came back with students wanting to do things, that’s our Engineering Student Council,” Swan said. “They wanted to do events, and the school wanted to support the efforts, so the program became a little bit more formalized to what we have today which is multiple events happening over what tends to be longer than a week period.”

Swan said that to solve world problems, students and faculty must work together and include underrepresented voices. The events were open to all members of the Tufts community to ensure inclusiveness.

“Let’s bring everybody to the same table,” Swan said. “I would like to see [Engineers] Week be one of those situations where we can gather everyone at the same table.”

Engineering student Jacob Carulli found the mission of Engineers Week meaningful.

“I feel like Tufts E-Week is important,” Carulli, a first-year, wrote in an email to the Daily. “If anything, it was just nice to know that there was a week of recognition for engineers and events going on tailored to our interests and our careers.”

Although Carulli thought the events offered were important, he hopes that Tufts considers adding more events focused on renewable energy in the future.

“I’m not sure if there was anything about renewable energy this year, but I would like to see that if Tufts holds E-Week again,” Carulli wrote.

The organizers of Engineers Week selected Leland Melvin, an engineer, astronaut, educator and former NFL wide receiver for the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys, as this year’s keynote speaker. After his brief football career ended, Melvin worked at NASA and ultimately became an astronaut.

During his lecture, Melvin implored students to look for a mentor who would have their back, support their ambitions and encourage them to keep trying even after failing.

Melvin told a story from his high school football career. After dropping a key touchdown pass, he was humiliated and left the field, but his coach pushed him to go back on. Melvin caught the next pass, which ultimately landed him a college scholarship to the University of Richmond.

Melvin emphasized the importance of not judging a book by its cover and not letting labeling affect mindsets surrounding problem solving.

“It doesn’t matter what the language is around the writing on the side of what you have,” Melvin said. “It’s what you do with it … it’s how you repurpose it.”

When asked about what instructors can do to facilitate student learning and to increase instructor-student connection, Melvin stressed empathy. 

“Understanding your students, understanding their story, is crucial,” Melvin said.

Melvin reminded students of the value of integrity in the journey they embark on. 

“Do it with grace, do it with empathy and do it with the belief that you are bringing everyone else along on the ride,” Melvin said.


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