Students Dine with the Dean

Nine engineering students joined Lou Gill and Dean Gregory Washington for family-style dinner.Nine engineering undergraduates shared a meal with their dean last month in the kitchen of Mesa Court Housing Director Lou Gill. The family-style dinner provided students the opportunity to get to know Samueli School Dean Gregory Washington on a more casual basis as Washington chatted with them about their experiences at UCI.

“Anytime I can spend time with students and see what we’re doing well as a school and learn how we can improve is a great occasion,” Washington said. “It’s fun for me to engage with students. I get a lot out of it.”

The students were curious about what a university dean does, and they discussed the first-year experiential learning course, which several of them are taking. The program, now in its third year, gives freshmen a hands-on engineering experience – designing, building and testing a multidisciplinary project. A few grumbled about how hard it was to build a quadcopter, this year’s project. The two fourth-year students at dinner were envious; they wished they’d had the chance to take that course.

“That kind of project experience helps when you go look for a job with industry,” said Lydia Ameri, a material sciences engineering senior and a resident assistant in housing.

Samueli School Dean Gregory Washington dines with undergraduate students at Mesa Court.The dean asked each student why he or she chose UCI. Several admitted they had selected UCI without even visiting the campus. Mostly they talked about the field of engineering.

“You should be incredibly proud of the choice you made in your education,” said Washington. “There are massive problems facing our country. The magnitude of change is greater than it has ever been – in population, in technology, climate and infrastructure. We need a whole new level of thinking, and that’s why engineering is so important. These problems are indeed opportunities for your generation.”

The dinner was part of a series developed by Gill to give students a chance to get acquainted with top-level administrators and distinguished faculty in an informal setting. Past guests have included UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman; Thomas Parham, vice chancellor for student affairs; and Hal Stern, dean of the Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences.

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