SEC Hybrid Engineering Expo
What is Engineering Expo?
Engineering Expo is a career fair that takes place each year and allows engineering students the opportunity to speak with numerous companies. Engineering Expo at Virginia Tech is the second-largest career fair run by students in the United States. This year’s 2021 Expo marked the 42nd time the event has been hosted. The large-scale event was hybrid and took place both in person at Squires Student Center as well as online using Brazen, a virtual resource for hosting career fairs. Having a hybrid event allowed for students and companies to have more opportunities to speak with each other regarding internship and co-op positions.
The Student Engineers’ Council (SEC)
The Student Engineers’ Council, SEC, worked tirelessly to plan Engineering Expo and ensure that each year the event can expand and include more companies for students to speak with. They are always looking for ways to help fellow engineering students through Engineering Expo as well as other events and outreach activities that they have throughout the year. In addition to Expo, the organization awards scholarships, the Lynn Nystrom Organization Fund, the Design Team Endowment Fund, and the Big Contribution to help fund various engineering design teams and clubs at Virginia Tech. The SEC council also plans events for engineering students throughout the year to help them get involved on campus and explore their engineering-related interests along with possible career paths. By participating in these events, students are able to build their networking skills and gain support to achieve their goals at Virginia Tech.
Preparing Students for Expo
In addition to planning the event, the SEC hosted Expo prep sessions to give students tips on how to interact with company representatives. They planned two in-person sessions -- the first session consisted of a panel discussion with Virginia Tech engineering students and their experiences working with companies through internships and coops. Some of the companies that the students had worked with included Amazon, SpaceX, Northrop Grumman, Leidos, and Kimley-Horn. In the second session, students were given an exclusive opportunity to hear about what companies are looking for in possible candidates through a panel with company representatives from Collins Aerospace, Volvo, Shared Spectrum Company, and G2 Ops. In order to guarantee that all engineering students were able to attend Expo prep events, the SEC also provided Zoom company information sessions so that students could learn more about specific companies and ask company representatives questions about their corporate values and work environment. They had individual sessions with TTI Floor Care, Cummins, General Dynamics Electric Boat, BAE Systems, and General Dynamics Mission System.
In order to make sure Engineering Expo was a success for students, other organizations such as the Society of Women Engineers, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, the Association for Women in Computing, the National Society of Black Engineers, and the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers at Virginia Tech worked together to plan Expo prep events as well such as workshops for resume reviews, elevator pitches, and mock interviews. The Engineering Department at Virginia Tech works to ensure the success of all engineering students and prepare them for the workforce. Through the various engineering organizations at Virginia Tech and the events that they host, students are able to discover more ways to excel in their chosen engineering disciplines.
A Company’s Perspective
This year, the SEC’s Engineering Expo consisted of more than 270 companies. One of the companies that chose to attend this year was WestRock, the second-largest packaging
company in North America.
A Research and Development Manager
from WestRock, Ashok Ghosh, said that “Westrock views Virginia Tech as a premier institute for full time hiring and we look to build relationships via co-op/internship programs, among others”. Students at Virginia Tech are given many opportunities to network with companies at the Engineering Expo event. Expo is open to students beginning from their freshman year of college. The SEC provides students with a list of companies and their specific employment requirements. When asked why WestRock chose to attend Engineering Expo, a company representative, Trishul Patel said “the diversity of students at Virginia Tech is outstanding, and the ability for them to be flexible between internship and co-op opportunities has also been a plus”. Virginia Tech is always looking to increase diversity in the engineering department and companies truly appreciate Hokie engineers’ dedication to constantly improve and discover new ways to innovate. Companies recognize that the Engineering Department at Virginia Tech is highly ranked and consists of students who best exemplify the traits of exceptional engineers. Virginia Tech’s Engineering Expo is able to be successful year after year due to the hard work put in by engineering organizations, students, and the sessions available to prepare for the event.