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EGSA History

This article includes a description of why and how EGSA was formed, what we've done so far, what's already scheduled for the upcoming semester, and what we'd like to do in the future. A copy of the EGSA constitution and bylaws are included at the bottom of this page.

The Engineering members of the GPSA COR group began meeting during the summer of 1998 to talk about issues specific to the Engineering College. One of the first things we did as a group was to send a letter to the deans regarding the Duffield Hall situation as we were led to understand it at the time.

In response to the climate assessment of last spring, we decided this summer to establish a graduate student social seminar series which would encourage interaction between graduate students and faculty in different departments. We discussed the idea with Dean Spiro of the Engineering College, and were given two thumbs up and the financial support necessary to initiate the lecture series.

In part to facilitate funding, we decided to form a new organization - the Engineering Graduate Student Association (EGSA) - to coordinate this lecture series and other social, climate-enhancing activities, rather than manage them through the University-wide GPSA. We established the EGSA in late September, with several COR members as officers and Dean Spiro as the faculty advisor.

The first event, held in October, was a combined lecture/dinner event featuring Prof. Stephen Strogatz speaking about small world networks and then a dinner of pizza, soda, and beer. Attended by 130 people, this inaugural event surpassed the expectations of the EGSA officers and indicated both the interest of graduate students in such activities and the need for similar events in the future.

Based on the expense and turnout of the first event, the EGSA created a proposed schedule for the remainder of the academic year (featuring one event per month) and submitted it to Dean Spiro for financial approval. He accepted the proposal and awarded the EGSA sufficient funds to continue the lecture series for this whole year, with additional funding available (upon acceptance) for other events as necessary.

Following the initial October event, the EGSA sponsored a second lecture/meal event and a study break during the fall semester. The November lecture was given by Dr. Willy Frank of Dr. Konstantin Frank's Vinifera Wine Cellars, in which he discussed the arts of grape growing and wine making, especially as they pertain to the Finger Lakes Region. His lecture was followed by a wine tasting with cheese and crackers. The December event was a study break, featuring a buffet-style Chinese food dinner. Both of these events also attracted a wide cross-section of engineering graduate students, on the order of 100 to 150 people each.

In addition to the monthly activities, we are also organizing a photo scavenger hunt. This hunt, which will run for 3 weeks between the February and March lecture events, will require interdepartmental teams and will feature cash prizes from area businesses. We will hold an awards ceremony dinner for all participants and then put the winning and most creative photos on the EGSA webpage.

The EGSA events are publicized in several ways. All events are described in emails sent to all the graduate students and faculty in the College, usually once several days before the event and again on the day itself. This electronic notification is reinforced with visual advertizing by posters put up in each department/building in the College. In addition, the EGSA has formed two mailing lists: "egsa-l" for general announcements and "egsamembers-l" for those who are actively involved (a higher traffic list). Any graduate student or faculty is welcome to subscribe to either or both lists. Finally, the EGSA webpage describes the organization, lists all previous and upcoming events, and provides additional contact information.

The future plans of this group include:

  • smaller events (wine trail tour, boat ride, state park hike, bike trip, etc.) which would require sign-ups beforehand. Several of these activities will most likely be piloted during the summer months.
  • new graduate student orientation, specifically for engineering students. This event (which could span several days in the fall) could be run in conjunction with the Big Red Barn graduate student orientation and/or the engineering TA training workshop. The EGSA officers believe that such an orientation is of utmost importance and would significantly ease the transition of incoming graduate students.
  • round-table lunch time discussions with the Associate Dean for Professional Development to keep graduate students apprised of climate issues in the College.
  • more lecture/dinner events, featuring both Cornell professors and outside speakers. To harness the alumni potential of the College, the EGSA is in contact with the Cornell Society of Engineers (CSE).

With these activities and more, the EGSA hopes to provide opportunities for graduate student interaction in a combined academic/social setting, and in so doing, help to improve the climate in the College.

EGSA Constitution