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Engineering day allows graduates to give back to FAMU

By Kevina Fullwood
On April 28, 2014

Talk of life after college sometimes consists of aspirations of a six-figure-paying job, a house with more rooms than necessary and a head-turning car. Not many mention how they plan to give back to their school.

The Engineering Technology Annual Alumni Industry Day gave former students the opportunity to bring the industry to the classroom.

"Each year, we select a chairman to host various event for the students," said graduating construction engineering technology student Gerard Cadet from Freeport, Bahamas. "This year's chairman is Anthony Rodgers."

Rodgers of Balfour Beatty Construction knew first-hand the importance of alumni returning because he is one of the founders of the Alumni Industry Day program.

"Industry day is for us to come back and give our knowledge, our wisdom, understanding and experiences," Rogers said. "It is to teach them how not to make the mistakes we made so that they can be better."

Companies such as Pinnacle Construction, Balfour Beatty Construction, Turner Construction and many more sponsored the event and spoke with students. Electronic engineering technology and construction engineering students were able to mingle and converse with company leaders.

It started with alumni coming back to assist professors with classes. Now Alumni Industry Day is an annual event.

"It originated from us coming individually as we saw other alumni do when we were in college that came to speak to the classes," Rogers said.

Rodgers' counterpart in the civil engineering program, the late Terrance Hunt, was doing the same thing for the civil engineering program. With Rodgers knack for planning and organizing combined with Hunt's program managing skills, they put their plan into action.

"The program can easily be duplicated so that students can have something replicable without changing it," Rodgers said.

The program started with construction engineering technology students, now it includes electronic engineering technology students. Next year, they hope to include the architecture students.

This event is designed to build leadership skills, provide industry access and an opportunity for students to show off their own designs in the senior design competition. Cash prizes were awarded at their banquet. Sessions included discussions about industry trends in electronic engineering technology, as well as how to manage money.

Porschia Tolbert, a graduating senior and president of the student chapter of the associated general contractors of America from Upper Marlboro, MD, has already begun reaping the benefits of the program. She landed a job with Turner Construction.

"I think it is really helpful when students actually take the time to talk to the companies," Tolbert said.

Rodger emphasized the idea that students must build a foundation of their own so that no one can take it from them. That foundation is built off of the recompense of those that have already succeeded, he said..

"Being a returning alumnus helps secure our legacy," Rodgers said. "It's about maintaining, preserving and keeping the 'famunity'."

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