Podcast - S1E3

The Complete Engineering® Podcast

The Student Experience: eSAB and NESCO

I'm also a Teachers Assistant for a freshman class, so being able to communicate with them and serve as a leader and someone they can look up to is important and it's definitely been helped by the Complete Engineer Initiative.

Daniel Johnson
Vice President of Membership with eSAB

NESCO’s Dalton Rabe and eSAB’s Daniel Johnson discuss the Nebraska Engineering student experience and how the big college has the feel of family.

NESCO’s Dalton Rabe and eSAB’s Daniel Johnson
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Intro: Welcome to the Complete Engineering podcast, brought to you by the College of Engineering. We are Nebraska, where we develop complete engineers with the technical and non-technical skills to do big things. Visit us at engineering.unl.edu.

(celebratory music)

Matt Honke: Welcome to the Complete Engineering podcast at the University of Nebraska, I'm Matt Honke.

Karl Vogel: I'm Karl Vogel.

Matt Honke: And today we are with Daniel Johnson and Dalton Rabe. Daniel, the Vice President of Membership with eSAB or Engineering Students Advisory Board, and Dalton is the Executive Vice President with NESCO, the Nebraska Engineering Student Council at Omaha.

Karl Vogel: We want to talk to Dalton and Daniel today about what their groups do in the college and get a look at the student experience on both the City and Scott campuses here at the College of Engineering.

Matt Honke: Yeah, we have a great setup for our university and for our College of Engineering. We are on both campuses, we are in Omaha and Lincoln. And it's one university, one College of Engineering. And Dalton and Daniel, welcome to the show.

Daniel Johnson and Dalton Rabe: Thanks for having us. Yeah, thank you.

Karl Vogel: Yeah Dalton, let's start off talking about NESCO. Could you maybe explain what is NESCO and how it has an impact for the Nebraska engineering students here on Scott campus.

Dalton Rabe: So NESCO is the Nebraska Engineering Student Council at Omaha. It is a council made up of engineering students to serve engineering students. And I think the biggest way we serve the students individually is through events. We throw a huge Halloween party that around 100 people show up, and I know a lot of people like to come together for those. Student board-wise we do a SPF process where we distribute funds up to a point for certain events. So we can really encourage growth and use of other student boards. On a more branding or commercial level we make a magazine called Engineering at the O that current and prospective students can go look at. So we're really trying to expand to see how we can further improve life on the College of Engineering and how we can make that easier for our students.

Matt Honke: Yeah, there's a lot of great things I know going on right now in Omaha. I guess conversely, Daniel on the Lincoln side of things, City campus and East campus, what is eSAB and how does it have an impact for the students in Lincoln?

Daniel Johnson: So eSAB is essentially the same things as NESCO. We have a lot of the same functions. However, we have a different name, we go by the Engineering Student Advisory Board or eSAB for short, and we also go through an SPF process in which we dole out money to all the different student organizations on campus, and we also plan a lot of events for all the students to go to. We have a lot of free food and we have a lot of free development opportunities, we go on some industry tours and so just a lot of opportunities for undergraduate students to get involved in the college and kind of branch out and meet new people outside of their major and prepare for their careers.

Karl Vogel: Now one of the big things at the College of Engineering every year, is E-week, and eSAB and NESCO are at the forefront of planning that event. It's really a student-driven event, it's a week-long series of things that bring the college and the students together and try to get them involved. How is it that your organizations go about planning together and separately? What are the ideas and processes you go through to plan that big week every February?

Dalton Rabe: I'd say between both campuses, one thing we both have to agree on is the theme, since we are one big university but still two different campuses. We have to have the same theme to keep it consistent. I know that's usually between, a couple of emails and a phone call and this year it's nature and resources, that kind of theme. Then what's different since our campuses are two different sizes, we just kind of plan our own events and I know we advertise like the two big events on each campus, but otherwise most events that are on each campus are just done in NESCO-wise and eSAB-wise on their own.

Daniel Johnson: Yeah, we're pretty independent of one another when it comes to the actual events, but it's a great week, a lot of fun stuff going on.

Karl Vogel: What are your first memories of E-week and was that anything that got you interested in being part of your groups that you're representing today?

Daniel Johnson: Yeah, definitely. I didn't join eSAB until my sophomore year, but I definitely remember walking through the engineering complex my freshman year during E-week and just seeing all this stuff going on. I got a lot of free food, which is always a big plus. So that kind of drew me in and it was really cool to see all the things that these students were able to plan.

Dalton Rabe: Just like Dan, I joined NESCO my sophomore year as well, and I lived on North Campus of Omaha so I didn't really get to experience a lot of the E-week activities my first year here. But since I joined NESCO my sophomore year I got to take photos of the events and actually got to participate in them. I think I remember for our FrESCO event we had to build like Popsicle like houses with cap bolts and that's like the big thing that just kinda like stuck with me. Is that like everyone just came together, made stuff and we got to see it like the rest of the year on social media and it's just kind of a nice way to bring everyone together in civil engineering.

Matt Honke: Dalton, how would you characterize the student life experience for engineers on Scott Campus here in Omaha?

Dalton Rabe: I say it's definitely different than a majority of other campuses in the nation. Since we are a smaller engineering campus, since everything is in one building, it doesn't feel cut off from the rest of the city. Like here in Omaha, it feels like you're really integrated into the city where we have so many industry surrounding us that we're never in our own world. And there's so many things to do here that it just makes you feel you're never really just on campus itself. You get to celebrate parts of the city while also having a college experience.

Matt Honke: Yeah, the Scott campus here in Omaha, it's a beautiful campus. It's really integrated nicely into the Aksarben area that's been built up over the last 10, 15 years. It's a very impressive area in a number of different industries that are really right next door, so it's a great area.

Karl Vogel: And it's a very modern area that has a lot of different things that can attract not just college students, but general public to this area, which makes it a greater opportunity for students to interact like Dalton said with members of the community at large.

Matt Honke: Daniel, I'm gonna ask the same thing to you then. What's the student experience like on City campus, East campus in Lincoln for engineering students.

Daniel Johnson: I think it's pretty similar to what Dalton said in that we're very integrated within the city. UNL campus is located right next to downtown Lincoln and so you can walk 10 minutes and then be in the Haymarket, which is our fun little renovated downtown area. There are a bunch of restaurants that you can go eat at. We have Memorial Stadium, so you can go watch a football game that's a big thing. We also have the Pinnacle Bank Arena, which is in walking distance. There are a lot of concerts there and a lot of basketball games so that's pretty big, our volleyball team is pretty good so.

Matt Honke: And we are fortunate as a College of Engineering to be on both campuses. That's a real positive and a benefit for us. There are some students that commute between the two and we have a N-E Ride system, a bus that will take you between campuses if you are a student that needs to be on either Omaha or Lincoln, but yeah, there's two distinct feels between the campuses, but it's once strong program on both.

Karl Vogel: One of the things that we've done in the College of Engineering over the last few years is we've initiated the Complete Engineer Initiative that we've talked about in previous podcasts. We've also, one of the things we've done for the students is start a core curriculum that blends into this. You start from early on, in your freshman year, taking classes that teach you more than just the technical skills for engineering but more of the other things that you need to succeed. How is your overall experience been in those classes? And do you think, now that you're both seniors, is it preparing you for that next step once you get past graduation?

Daniel Johnson: I think 100% yeah, soft skills are something that most engineers definitely lack. And so it's really great to be able to, develop leadership skills and teamwork skills and self-management and all the things that go into being a really great professional alongside the technical knowledge that you need to be an engineer, and so I think it's incredibly beneficial.

Dalton Rabe: I actually have been apart of the core classes for the engineer but for my position in NESCO as a EVP, I actually make presentations and activities for each competency of engineer. Like September it was self-management, so I made a presentation about planners, budgeting, just so you can start setting up those skills, later on throughout college and then we had a discussion to see what worked, what didn't, same for October. Teamwork-wise, team building activities and I really like how we're starting to integrate that more because it's not just focusing on math, physics and this is what you need to get through like technical-wise, they're really pushing the communication and personal skills that you're going to need after college.

Karl Vogel: Have either of you had any professional experience outside of being a student, an internship? Working teaching classes? Helping out, anything along those lines? And how are these skills that you're learning in the Complete Engineer helping you in that? Do you feel like it gives you a leg up?

Daniel Johnson: Definitely yeah, so I've had three internships during college and my soft skills have definitely been the most important thing at each one of those internships. Because you need to be able to talk to a bunch of different kinds of people, and the operators are some of the most helpful people that you'll meet during the internships but you need to be able to communicate with them effectively and so developing these soft skills is really important to do that. I'm also a TA for freshman class and so being able to communicate with them and serve as kind of a leader as someone they can look up to is important and it's definitely been helped by the Complete Engineer Initiative.

Dalton Rabe: Yeah, I agree. I had one internship this past summer where I was working on a team with the other electrical engineers at the firm and teamwork is a huge part of it. Like, if you can't communicate with the other people on your team, you're not gonna be working efficiently. If there's a change that happens on a project and you don't know about it that could cost hours of work and just make a huge fuss. So the fact that we're really instilling these skills now, makes students coming out of the college a leg up over other universities, I think.

Matt Honke: Yeah that is definitely the feedback that we're hearing from industries and it's certainly something that makes Complete Engineer important. Those competencies that we're talking about are intercultural appreciation, leadership, teamwork, self-management, service and civic responsibility and engineering ethics. These are all components that are in addition to obviously the technical skills that any engineer will need to learn to be successful. Certainly, both of you, exemplify that very well. I guess, let's go back before you became an engineering student at Nebraska. Growing up, what sparked your interest in doing this? What led you to this field?

Daniel Johnson: I always liked to kind of tinker with things and take things apart and see how they work, pretty stereotypical engineering background and I also took some engineering classes in high school. I think the project that really got me interested was we built an elevator, a small-scale elevator, out of VEX Robotics parts and then we were able to program it ourselves and put all these sensors on it and then press a button and it would move up to the right floor and then stay there for a certain period of time and then move back down. It was just really cool to be able to produce something like that and build that with my own hands. So that's really what drove me into engineering in the first place and then I ended up choosing chemical, because I took some chemistry classes in high school and I really liked that. So it's kind of how I go into engineering in the first place.

Dalton Rabe: I had a different path to engineering, I wanna say. Until about October of my senior year in high school, I was gonna go study Agricultural Economics at CASNR down in UNL, but I remember junior year, I come from a really small school, graduated with three or four people. So we had a career day when an alumni came in and talked about what they did for a living. And we actually had someone from the faculty at the Durham School come in and talk about architectural engineering. And so as October went on I realized maybe AG wasn't for me, so I'll switch to AG Engineering and then December came around and I kept looking at UNLs website and thought, I'm just gonna switch to architectural engineering since lighting and acoustics really seems like something I really wanna do. And I might as well go all in.

Karl Vogel: You can't pick a better place for architectural engineering than the program here in Scott campus. The University of Nebraska, Lincoln is one of the preeminent programs in the country in that field. Was that a contributing factor in making your decision or were you guys, both of you, were you both Nebraska engineering all the way? What brought you to the college?

Dalton Rabe: I'd say definitely for me, it was always going to be Nebraska. Rooting for the Huskers your entire life and just knowing how like, state pride is huge here, and you know you wanna go to UNL, you wanna be a Husker and it's a huge legacy that you wanna a be a part of.

Daniel Johnson: Yeah, and I was also born and raised in Nebraska and I did consider like South Dakota school of Mines, Colorado School of Mines but I wanted more of a well-rounded college experience. I love engineering, it's what I wanted to be, I wanted to have like other perspectives as well. And then money was also definitely a factor I guess, good scholarships that kind of pushed me towards Nebraska then I came here and I haven't regretted it.

Matt Honke: So both of you actually have very different backgrounds in what brings you here, in terms of where you come from. Daniel, you're from Omaha, the largest city in the state, almost a million people. And Dalton you are from Hooper, Nebraska and how many people live there?

Dalton Rabe: I wanna say around 800 people.

Matt Honke: About 800.

Karl Vogel: I think it's technically Hooper.

Matt Honke: Hooper? (laughter)

Karl Vogel: It's those Nebraska pronunciations that you don't get anywhere else.

Matt Honke: I don't want to say that wrong, Beatrice has said it like three different ways, I've heard it. So anyways, with that said, I'm gonna start with you, Daniel. What is it like to go to a larger campus, to be in Lincoln and you're coming from Omaha, the big city? How has that transition been for you and how has that affected your college experience?

Daniel Johnson: I think it went really smoothly. So I went to Millard North for high school which is the biggest high school in the state. So I graduated with 600-some people and so moving in to UNL it was kinda nice to still be in that kind of like big school atmosphere where I don't know a lot of people, but there's still a lot of people around all the time. The Department of Chemical Engineering was a little bit different though as I moved my way through, my class is only about 30-people big. And so that's been kind of a fun experience getting to know everybody in my class on a name-to-name basis and hanging out with all of them pretty frequently versus when I graduated high school, like I didn't know half the people that walked across the stage. So that's been fun and I've enjoyed that a lot.

Karl Vogel: That's gotta be a completely different experience for somebody who, I went to a big high school too and graduated with about 600 kids. So I know that you feel like you're a number there but you get into the Chemical Engineering Department and you got 30 other kids in your class, you gonna be developing lifetime relationships with a lot of these people. How do you see your interaction with them moving forward? Are you going to stay close with these people?

Daniel Johnson: Oh definitely. So I'm gonna move down to Texas after I graduate, I've accepted a position down there and one of my other classmates is also down there and so we're gonna spend a lot of time together which will be fun but, we're all really close friends, we hang out pretty much every weekend and some of us are getting married and we're all going to each others weddings. We're a really close-knit group and we're not really competitive at all, which is a big a big bonus that UNL has over a lot of other engineering colleges, but its really great to be close to everybody.

Matt Honke: Well congratulations on the job.

Daniel Johnson: Thank you.

Matt Honke: It's always good to hear that. Dalton, you cam from small town Nebraska and you're on Omaha's Scott campus so how has that transition gone for you?

Dalton Rabe: At first it was very different. Going to classes with about 20 people in high school to 60 or 70 in some Gen Eds was pretty different, but you just kinda keep your head down and work. You kinda get used to it but I definitely like driving, walking around Omaha was way different than being on a farm. (laughter) After sophomore year we were getting to specialized classes. Right now I'm in classes with 10 to 15 other people. It's just like high school again, I feel like I know everyone in my class. So I think Omaha was kinda like a perfect bridge into college where if I went to some place bigger it would still be pretty awkward and different not knowing maybe someone who sits at the opposite end of the class.

Matt Honke: So in both of you guys' cases, you feel like the college might be bigger, the university might be bigger, but you're still able to get that small class feeling, you still have a sense of community with the people that are around ya. You've been able to keep that throughout the college experience.

Daniel Johnson and Dalton Rabe: Yeah. Right.

Karl Vogel: And the Durham School has a career fair up here every year and it's been very successful in lining up students from the Durham School with employment opportunities both full-time employment and internships. What's your situation looking like after graduation?

Dalton Rabe: I think my situation is looking pretty good. I've handed out a lot of resumes last career fair and like the career fair fills up a huge conference center and it is physically impossible to talk to every single company there. I remember the first year I went, I tried and I was physically exhausted after that. But you never feel like walking out the career fair like you didn't make an impression on a company, you always feel like you gained progress. Whether that turns into an internship or not, maybe not but you know you have connections later on. So next year when the career fair comes around you know, you've met these people before, they know you and there's gonna be a lot more success next time going around.

Karl Vogel: And being in that engineering program, you're part of a four plus one, where you're headed for a Master's degree, in a five-year program, correct?

Dalton Rabe: Yep.

Matt Honke: So on both campuses in Omaha and Lincoln we have our great Engineering Student Services staff that provide career services advising a number of different student benefits there. How has that helped both of you out in your situations? Again I'll start with you Daniel in Lincoln, have you been able to use some of those student services?

Daniel Johnson: During my first couple of years of college, they were always there to like reviews resumes and make sure that you were ready for the career fair. The advisors are also really good. I know I came in and I had no idea what I was gonna do with my four years and they were able to point me in the right direction and make sure that I got everything done so that I could graduate on time. And they were able to put together the career fair where I got my job so that was pretty nice, and that's very beneficial.

Matt Honke: They were really there kind of hand-in-hand along the way helping you through that journey.

Daniel Johnson: Right, yep.

Matt Honke: That's great, Dalton, how about in Omaha?

Dalton Rabe: I love the Engineering Student Services here for the first two years we have a set advisor, mine was Garrett Gassman. And he was great for advising, I remember that first semester, again being in a huge new college, I was really timid and he helped me set up for classes, gave me advice academically and just made sure I was going to keep on track. Then after that we get specialized advisors and again they're really helpful, they're faculty as well and you know them more on a personal level, you feel like when you do advising. And so they know what you're going through, they know you're class load and they're going to be able to give you advice on what to do and what not to do.

(bell rings three times)

Matt Honke: Dog or cat?

Daniel Johnson: Both.

Matt Honke: Who's your favorite superhero?

Dalton Rabe: Spiderman.

Matt Honke: Favorite tailgating food?

Daniel Johnson: Hot dogs.

Matt Honke: Have you ever used a Slide Rule?

Dalton Rabe: No.

Matt Honke: First video game you owned?

Daniel Johnson: Oh God, Spyro.

Matt Honke: Favorite musical genre.

Dalton Rabe: Alternative metal.

Matt Honke: What was your favorite toy growing up?

Daniel Johnson: Legos.

Matt Honke: If you could time travel to when would you go?

Dalton Rabe: 1970. (laughter)

Matt Honke: On a scale of one to 10, how strict are your parents?

Daniel Johnson: Seven.

Matt Honke: Do you know how to run a VCR?

Dalton Rabe: Yes.

Matt Honke: Chocolate or vanilla?

Daniel Johnson: Vanilla.

Matt Honke: Saturday or Sunday?

Dalton Rabe: Saturday.

Matt Honke: What's your pet peeve?

Daniel Johnson: Chewing loudly.

Matt Honke: Pancakes or waffles?

Dalton Rabe: Waffles.

Matt Honke: Herbie Husker or Lil Red?

Daniel Johnson: Herbie Husker.

Matt Honke: Least favorite Thanksgiving food?

Dalton Rabe: Yams. (laughter)

Matt Honke: I can't stand those either. Okay, well, we wanna thank Daniel Johnson of eSAB and Daniel Rabe with NESCO again for joining us. Thank you both.

Daniel Johnson and Dalton Rabe: Thank you for having us. Yeah.

(cheerful piano music)

Voiceover: Thank you for listening to the Complete Engineering podcast. For more information, visit us at engineering.unl.edu. (cheerful piano music)