BSU’s new center aims to uplift future engineers

While the Micron Student Success Center at Boise State University might be a bit tricky for a campus newbie to find, the glass-fronted spread at the ground level of Charles P. Ruch Engineering Building is designed to be a bustling center for Bronco students to explore and to pursue STEM careers.

Funded by a $585,000 multi-year Micron Foundation grant in February 2022 (per Micron communications), Boise State’s College of Engineering hosted an open house this Tuesday to introduce the new hub to university students after a quiet opening earlier this year.

Ensuring equitable access

The goal of the center is to support student access to targeted programs “that expand equitable access to education, diversify enrollment and prepare all students… for productive and fulfilling engineering careers,” according to a Micron press release.

“It’s for all kids, but those in particular to find an anchor to wrap their arms around, to help them belong and to put them on a course that they can bring their best selves to a program,” Kami Faylor, director of strategy and operations at the Micron Foundation, said.

Faylor, a former first-generation college student, knows how difficult it can be to steer through a strange new system in a new place.

“Every student comes here with a different background,” Faylor said. “The programs at the center will be focused on getting (students) resources and answering a lot of unknowns.”

The center will be a locus for pursuing internships, career mentors, advising services, and experiential learning opportunities all inside of an open, shared space that brings new, experienced and transfer students together in a shared engineering endeavor.

Reestablishing communal bonds

In addition to the center, Micron and BSU constructed an “ultra-modern” open work area where students can study in private and as part of collaborative groups. This was an intentional effort on the part of the College of Engineering to forge new communal bonds, especially after nearly two years when classes were disrupted because of the COVID-19 pandemic. JoAnn S. Lighty, dean of the College of Engineering, was part of the college-wide planning committee to determine what students would need to readjust to campus life.

“I was really afraid that the connection, those interactions, the things that they needed, would be missing when they came back,” Lighty said. “It was about leadership skills, how students are forming community and how they can reconnect.”

A resource nexus

For upper class engineering students, the student success center is a resource to connect with advisors and learn about internship opportunities at companies like Micron. For first- and second-year students, center director Adriana Facundo said that this means giving them the direction necessary to explore engineering as a possible major and career choice.

“We want to make sure we’re introducing first-year students to resources that will set them up with a strong foundation for building their confidence and navigating university resources,” Facundo said.

Towards this end, Facundo oversees 13 student ambassadors that work to ensure engineering students are directed to the people and resources that they need to succeed. These students can connect and give guidance from a peer level.

“We talk about fostering a resilient identity and self-advocacy,” Facundo said. “Part of that is just our ambassadors telling their story. They’re humans, like, they started somewhere, they came from rural towns, or they transferred in from community colleges.”

21st Century skills

In the end, Micron hopes that the student success center at Boise State helps to reinforce critical skills necessary for the 21st Century workforce.

“You have got to have a diversity of thinking to solve complex challenges,” Faylor said. “You have to recognize that all levels need a diversity of thought and background to succeed. We are all facing similar challenges, which is why inclusivity is so important to the field.”

Matt Denis

Matt Denis

Reporter Matt Denis is based in the Treasure Valley and has served as an educator and a journalist. Prior to national digital reporting and founding an arts and culture section in Eugene, Oregon, Matt worked as an English and history teacher in Detroit, San Diego, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. You can send news tips to [email protected].

Get EdNews in your inbox

Weekly round up every Friday