There is only one place on the Virginia Tech campus where students can 3D print in the same building where they sleep, study, and do laundry. That place is Hoge Hall, home to the Living Learning Programs Hypatia and Galileo. It features the second floor InVenTs Studio, an innovative design lab that is only one of the many resources provided to the first-year engineering students who call Hoge home. Often called Galipatia by the plethora of undergraduate student leaders, graduate student leaders, and mentors who work to make this community stronger, this Living Learning Program is one of Virginia Tech’s largest. In addition to the InVenTs Studio, Galipatia provides students with countless support such as networking opportunities, mentorship, and professional development opportunities to name a few.
History of Galipatia
Named after the prominent ancient Egyptian mathematician, Hypatia was created in 2001 as a community to bring together women in a field where they are typically very underrepresented. The number of women enrolled grew each year as the program gained traction, and in 2004 Galileo joined as the brother program, forming the Galipatia LLP we know today. It was this same year that Dr. Watford, head of CEED, VT alum, and founder of Hypatia, implemented the committees of upperclassmen women who continue to give back to Hypatia and support young women following in their footsteps. In 2010, after Galileo and Hypatia merged under one unified roof in Hoge Hall, the mentorship program was created. Now, with this support program and shared space, students had access to the guidance of their upperclassman peer mentor 24/7 if needed. After starting with around 40 women, Hypatia is currently a strong community of over 300 women in engineering who offer support and friendship to each other. Hypatia can be a safe place for women to collaborate on coursework and meet others who share their interests, especially since many of the classes they take will have an imbalanced ratio of men to women. The years of hard work put into building this program have undoubtedly paid off, considering that the number of women enrolling grows each year and students in Galipatia have a higher graduation percentage than the rest of Virginia Tech’s engineering students.
All Galipatia students are required to take a 2-credit class as a part of the Living Learning Program. The assignments in this course are intended to develop students professionally, academically, and personally as they transition from high school to college as an engineering major. These are not just meaningless assignments that will be completed and not looked at again. Students are required to create Google Calendars for organization, construct resumes and cover letters that can be used in years to come, and network with industry professionals in their intended field.
In addition, the course has social, professional development, mental health, academic, and service requirements that help students to grow and be successful in all areas of life. Galipatia community members can receive tutoring on some of the most challenging first year courses right in Hoge Hall during academic hours. Afterwards, they can unwind at a social event by making origami or playing games. Every Friday, the Hoge lounge hosts Slush Rush, an event where students sip slushies and talk with Virginia Tech professors from a range of engineering departments. This low-stakes environment is a fun way to practice talking to professionals about your interest in engineering. In addition to the weekly Galileo and Hypatia classes, there is also a weekly seminar for both groups that addresses social challenges college students may face. These seminars educate Galipatia students on topics like communication skills, diversity and inclusion, sexism, relationship violence, identity, and culture. There are also informational workshops about study abroad programs, as well as an end of year social for all the students. Galipatia covers every aspect of what students need to grow in their identity as young adults, spanning from academic and cultural education to fun social events. Perhaps the most enriching element of Galipatia is the peer mentorship program. Each freshman in the program is assigned an upperclassman mentor who leads them through a ten-week series of meetings and provides advice on study skills, how to manage Galipatia events, and just life in general. Students will be part of a mentor group including other first years with the same mentor. Together, they discuss the good and the bad aspects of their weeks and share tips for success as an engineering student. The groups get an extra chance to bond with several group meals, fully funded by Galipatia and held at each groups’ choice of restaurant in downtown Blacksburg.
It’s impossible to list all the opportunities Galipatia provides for its students. The endless resources and possibilities are what keep students coming back year after year and what draws even greater numbers of freshmen each fall. This program that began 21 years ago as a small group of women in Slusher Hall has blossomed into a powerful community where women and other underrepresented groups can support each other through the trials and successes that come with studying engineering. Galileo and Hypatia are sure to evolve even more in the years to come, and their impact on Virginia Tech engineering is sure to grow even larger.