Carnegie Mellon University

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April 13, 2022

Mentoring Program Matches Undergrads with CEE Alums

CEE alums have so much insight to offer when it comes to engineering school and industry experience. And who better to share it with than current CEE students? 

The Alumni/Undergraduate Mentor Program, which welcomed its first cohort in the fall of 2021, matched 21 student-alumni pairs with the goal to develop deeper connections between participants.

The program provides benefits for both mentors and mentees, says professor Burcu Akinci, who developed the initial idea for the mentor pairings. Students obtain insight into different career paths that can begin at CEE. They also develop confidence in transitioning from student to practicing engineer. “They learn the differences between the make-up of the workforce versus the undergraduate student population,” she adds.

Mentors, who volunteer their time, connect with today’s students while giving back to CEE in a meaningful way. Akinci notes that the graduates also take pride in helping students to gain career knowledge, confidence, and marketability. 

weng.jpgCindy Weng (BS ‘18), a CEE graduate now working toward a PhD in Environmental Engineering at Stanford University, says that she was compelled to become a mentor because of her positive experiences at Carnegie Mellon University. “I wanted to continue helping to foster the community at CEE.”

Plans for the Alumni/Undergraduate Mentor Program began nearly two years ago but were sidetracked by the pandemic. It was inspired by successful programs that Akinci saw at other schools. 

Simultaneously, students were reaching out to CEE’s career services staff, asking for mentorship opportunities. Akinci worked closely with CEE staff, faculty, students, and the alumni council to develop the program and gauge interest. “We surveyed our recent alumni and got very positive feedback.” 

Weng adds that building a relationship with her mentee has helped to maintain her own connection to CEE. “An unexpected benefit of this experience is that it has allowed me to think more critically about the contributing factors that led me to be a successful undergraduate student. One of the best parts of the experience is hearing about how my mentee’s time at CMU is going.”

The inaugural Mentor Program group contains five seniors, nine juniors, and seven sophomores. Akinci hopes that the connections built through the program could lead to mutually beneficial happy endings. “The mentors have direct access to a great talent pool—all while making a difference in the lives of future engineers.”

If you would like to develop a mentoring relationship with a current CEE student, please contact Heather Cain.