September 25, 2012

From new friends to better grades, residing on campus proves beneficial to more than just incoming freshmen’s social lives. A new Engineering Residential College opened this fall, allowing more engineering, construction management and computer science students to reap the benefits of living on campus.

Michael Raffaldi, a resident assistant in the ERC, said that residents have significant advantages over non-residents.

“Living on campus can be the difference between a C and a B, or a B and an A,” Raffaldi said. “Especially as a freshman in engineering, it can be difficult to get through classes like college-level physics and calculus alone. Living on campus allows you to communicate with others in your classes. Two heads is usually better than one.” 

ERC residents have access to supplemental course instructors who visit the residential college multiple evenings per week. Chemistry, physics and math teachers provide additional academic assistance to residents. In addition, counselors visit the ERC at midterm to advise students on their class schedule for the following semester.

Students who live in the engineering college benefit academically and are more likely to stay with engineering, rather than change majors after their freshman year.

"Adapting to college is a big transition for most, and the College of Engineering is dedicated to getting its freshmen off to a great start here at LSU," said Warren Waggenspack, associate dean for academic programs. "The ERC provides a living/learning environment that fosters social, academic and professional growth. The community of friendships formed allow students to adapt to the social and academic challenges of a university experience. Data clearly show that engineering retention rates and GPAs are higher for our ERC residents compared to non-residents."

According to ERC data, the retention rate in engineering and construction management after one full year in the ERC is 88.4 percent. Among engineering and construction management freshmen who did not reside in the ERC, the retention rate is 82.3 percent.

This learning community was designed to help develop the next generation of engineers, construction managers and computer scientists who will face the technical challenges of a global economy.

Living on campus helps students transition into college, not just academically, but socially as well.

Dupaquier said that residents usually take similar classes, so they form friendships and study groups that last for the duration of their time at LSU.

“It’s an amazingly supportive environment between the residents, staff and faculty,” said Samantha Dupaquier, another RA in the ERC.

Residential Life hosts several events that allow residents to socialize and relax, Dupaquier said.

“We had a Pinterest day for the girls and spent all day watching movies and doing crafts,” Dupaquier said. “Everyone really enjoyed just relaxing and hanging out.”

Raffaldi said that for the students who attended the events, it made a difference, especially at the beginning of the fall semester when people are new and don’t know anyone else.

“My favorite event was the Habitat for Humanity build,” he said. “It was great to get out and do something useful for the community beyond the university, while getting to know people better.”

A prime goal of the ERC is to jump start students' professional development by quickly acquainting them with the College of Engineering. The ERC will be the hub for a series of activities and programs hosted by student chapters of professional engineering societies.

In partnership with Career Services, the ERC conducts training programs on resume development, mock interviewing and hosts corporate sponsored events aimed at exposing students to internship, Co-Op and long-term career engineering opportunities.

Originally sharing a hall with the Business Residential College, the new ERC houses only students majoring in engineering, construction management, undecided engineering and computer science.

The new building has 365 beds, as opposed to the 190 beds in the former ERC, and a larger classroom that will hold sections of Math 1550 (Calculus 1), Math 1552 (Calculus 2) and English 1001.

 “I lived on campus all four years, and I wouldn’t change a thing,” Dupaquier said. “Being constantly involved with campus and being so close to teachers and faculty aids in success, especially in engineering.”

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Article written by Elise Bernard, communications intern. For more information, contact Cassie Arceneaux, College of Engineering, carcen6@lsu.edu or (225) 578-0092.



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