Nebraska Engineering Fall, 2005
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Students' experiences during their first two months of college often determine whether they will muddle or soar through the next four years.

We won't have that awkward first month where you walk around a classroom trying to find someone to talk to. -N.U.B.E. Jacob GreenburgThe two leading factors that determine whether students stay at the university are the connections they make with a faculty member or adviser and how engaged they are academically, said Rita Kean, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln's dean of undergraduate studies.

With that in mind, the College of Engineering unrolled the welcome mat for the Class of 2010 before classes even started.

NUBEsThe college invited freshmen and exchange students to move to campus early and attend N.U.B.E. camp. Pronounced like "newbie," N.U.B.E. stands for Nebraska Undergraduates Becoming Engineers. The inaugural two-day camp was designed to let new students meet their classmates and professors before classes began.

To Kean's knowledge, engineering is the first department to offer such an event.

Jacob Greenburg of Creighton said his transition into cellege at UNL would be easier because he already knew people.

"We won't have that awkward first month where you walk around a classroom trying to find someone to talk to," said Greenburg, who also was grateful to meet a classmate with whom he could study calculus.
That built-in support system was what Bing Chen had in mind when he organized a retreat last summer for new students in the Department of Computer and Electronics Engineering. He said it was so well-received that he thought it should be offered to all freshmen.

Programs like N.U.B.E. cultivate a sense of unity among students, Chen said, which is key to an enjoyable college experience. More than 90 percent of the students who participated in last year's retreat stayed at the university–an amazing retention rate for any program, especially engineering, he said.

This year's camp had 68 participants–a strong start to what administrators hope will become a College of Engineering tradition, said Trish Fenster, N.U.B.E. event coordinator.
The following photo essay captures the first of many days that the freshman class will spend together.

1:25 p.m.–Hello

To break the tension, upperclassmen led a bingo game in which students asked others a series of questions such as "What is Bart Simpson's father's name?" and "Name a song by the band U2." The objective was to get each bingo question answered by a different person. For Nicole Frisbie of Seward, pictured above with Siera Gage of Lincoln, it was how she met several of her Neihardt dormmates. "I know I'll stay in touch with the people I met today," Frisbie said. The next assignment was a scavenger hunt through the engineering complex, a task that puzzled even the orientation leaders. The Green Team was the first to arrive at the final destination, the Concrete Materials Lab–only to discover it had skipped several stops. Undaunted, the team (pictured below) turned around to search for the remaining clues. Junior Cassie McBride listened closely to laughter from another team echo through the hallway, hoping it would help her get the Greens on track. It never happened. Steve Moody of Lincoln voiced what his classmates might have been thinking: "Is this supposed to teach us where to find things? Because I'm pretty much completely lost."

3:30 p.m.–Goodbye
"Don't ask for money because we're not going to send any … well, maybe your mom will," said Don Wall, hugging his daughter Danielle. Danielle Wall is from Fort Worth, Texas, but has been a Husker fan since childhood because her father is a UNL graduate. Like many freshmen, Danielle said she was excited to leave home–and a little scared, too. "It's going to be weird being away from my parents, but I have uncles and aunts in Lincoln that I can call if I need them." The Walls snuck in a parting conversation as Danielle boarded the school bus that took the newbies to Camp Calvin Crest near Fremont, where students from the Lincoln and Omaha campuses met. "Bye, Daddy. I love you," Danielle said. "Stay away from the boys," Don sighed. Danielle's mother, Shelly, glanced at the bus and said wryly, "There's a whole busload of boys."


5:45 p.m.–Relaxation
Following an afternoon jam-packed with activities and an un-air-conditioned bus ride, students were grateful for downtime before dinner. During a game of Frisbee football, Katie Pfeiffer of Clarkson attempted to block a throw from Josh Rhodig of East Lyme, Conn. Across the gravel driveway, a more traditional form of football was underway. A group of exchange students from Brazil and Peru dutifully kicked off their flip-flops and started playing soccer. They were joined by Heidi Gengenbach of Blair, who headed the ball 30 feet to score 10 minutes into the game. "That's very good," a teammate said admiringly. Unbeknownst to him, Gengenbach has played soccer since elementary school. "They're good," Gengenbach said of the exchange students. "It's fun to play with them." It might've been an intramural team in the making.

6:50 p.m.–Inspiration
In a mess hall more reminiscent of an elementary school cafeteria than college, Dean David Allen addressed the students. "You're now officially newbies. In four years, I want you to be the leaders. "… The people here are going to be your closest friends for the rest of your life because of this common bond of participating in something new to the university. … Please remember this as a very important changing point in your lives." Bing Chen added, "We want you to meet and depend on each other during this first year. We want you to have fun in addition to everything else you'll have to do."

7:30 p.m.–Teambuilding
Laughter–and a few falls–was more evident than skill during the Dragon Tails game, pictured above. Each team formed a line, and the person at the end of the "dragon tail" placed a handkerchief in his or her back pocket. The team to gather the most handkerchiefs from other teams was declared the winner. The evening took on a more competitive mood when the dean challenged students to create an official camp cheer. He agreed to take the winning team, as determined by faculty and staff, to lunch at Vincenzo's. Team Linoma's cheer proved that appealing to people's emotions is a surefire way to win a competition: I don't know what I've been told But newbie camp is like finding gold I don't know what's been said But engineers aren't brain dead Sound off! / 1, 2 / Sound off! / 3, 4 I don't know what I've been told But Dean Allen is really old! The crowd laughed approvingly and turned its attention away from Team Linoma to gauge the dean's reaction. Luckily, his flushed cheeks and wide smile indicated he was taking the ribbing well. Team Linoma tied Herbie and the Hotheads to win the cheer competition.

10:05 p.m.–Afterglow
The first evening of N.U.B.E. ended with students gathering around a campfire and listening to Detloff's rendition of George Thorogood's "Get a Haircut and Get a Real Job." Detloff lent his guitar to other musicians, including Kalen Shuck of Davenport (pictured above). Robert Froeschl of Falls City said it's hard for students to imagine what their instructors are like outside the classroom. Seeing them at camp, he said, "made them seem more human and approachable." Jacob Greenburg said the camp reassured him that he's pursuing the right career. "Sometimes I worry if I've made the right choice, but after talking to the professors and seeing how much they love it, it makes me excited."



© 2006 University of Nebraska-Lincoln, College of Engineering