BCOE’s first ever Family Weekend brings together engineering families to experience life as an engineering student

Parents and families of engineering students at the Marlan and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering (BCOE) experienced a slice of college life at the first ever Family Weekend on Friday, May 13 and Saturday, May 14. Through MakeRspace activities, classroom lectures, tours of BCOE, and more, families experienced firsthand their student’s campus life and engaged fellow parents, faculty and staff.

“We extend a warm thank you to the families who visited BCOE in support of their student, and a thank you to our BCOE Parent Advisory Council, faculty and staff who made this possible,” said Dean Christopher S. Lynch. “At BCOE, we are building a community of engineers, and value families’ integral role in that community.” 

Two people smiling; one is wearing a hat and holding a baseball
BCOE Parent Advisory Council co-chair Tracy Wang is all smiles after throwing out the first pitch of the UCR baseball game.

With more than 200 participants, the inaugural Family Weekend kicked off with tours led by current BCOE students. Highlights included the Center for Robotics and Intelligent Systems, home to the new Robotics program; piano-playing soft robots in the laboratory of William Grover, assistant professor of bioengineering; and beloved BCOE landmarks in the #BCOESelfieHunt, such as four trees planted in honor of the four children of Marlan and Rosemary Bourns. 

Throughout the day, parents popped in to visit BCOE classrooms, gaining insight into students’ perspectives in lectures.

Friday’s festivities concluded with a BCOE Tailgate and UCR vs. UCI Baseball Game at the Riverside Sports Complex. BCOE Parent Advisory Council co-chair Tracy Wang threw out the first pitch and families enjoyed dinner and the game.

“It was such a joy to see families put themselves in the shoes of their engineering students,” said Wang. “With this support and engagement from families, the BCOE student experience will continue to advance and attract the brightest future engineers to choose UC Riverside engineering.”

Wang’s co-chair Cecil Lawson, information technology manager of the City of Campbell, will step down from his position this spring when his daughter graduates from BCOE. Wang will be joined by new co-chair Deborah Martin, retired vice president and assistant general counsel at Pfizer and parent of a second-year Mechanical Engineering student.

“Whether you’re passionate about students having access to top technology for their experiments and creations or strongly believe in the value of career development, there are so many ways to get involved,” said Martin. “We look forward to hosting future events to engage our students’ strongest supporters.”

On Saturday, the BCOE Parent Advisory Council hosted a donor breakfast and subsequent coffee with Dean Lynch. Dean Lynch gave a speech thanking families for attending the event and emphasized BCOE’s commitment to building MakeRspaces for multiple engineering programs. 

Dean Lynch speaking with a parent on Winston Chung patio
Dean Christopher Lynch and a BCOE parent chat during the donor breakfast.

Launched in May 2022, BCOE’s #MakeRspaceMillion Campaign aims to generate $1 million in philanthropic support to nearly double the college’s MakeRspace footprint, expose students to the latest technologies and immerse them in high-tech environments that encourage inspiration and entrepreneurship. For a limited time, donors can double their impact thanks to $260,000 in matching funds available for all new gifts between $100 and $25,000.

Family Weekend attendees enjoyed a preview of the developing Mechanical Engineering (ME) and Electrical Engineering (EE) and Bioengineering (BIEN) MakeRspaces – and tried their hand at their own engineering projects. Teams competed to build the best catapult and test which one would launch a pom-pom ball the farthest.

Families also embarked on tours of the ME machine shop, a 4,300 square-foot facility full of advanced instruments and tools to help students bring their creative concepts to life as prototypes.

Faculty from several different departments offered mini-lectures and tours, including Huinan Liu, professor of bioengineering, Robert McKee of bioengineering, Jia Chen, assistant teaching professor of electrical and computer engineering, and assistant teaching professors of computer science and engineering Allan Knight and Paea LePendu.

After lunch, parents got to know several student professional organizations on campus, which displayed their latest projects: American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), Cyber@UCR, Engineers Without Borders (EWB), Highlander Racing, Formula SAE, and Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS).

While families explored the college, students networked with BCOE faculty and top engineering professionals in industry at Beyond College and LinkedIn, Part 2. Nearly two dozen engineers, many of them BCOE alumni, offered their guidance about career opportunities in intellectual property, development operations, battery technologies, public utilities, biotechnology, and social media. 

Family weekend_MakeRspace
Students and families compete to build their best catapult in the Mechanical Engineering MakeRspace.

Additional campus partners for Family Weekend included the UCR Career Center, which provided tours and an introduction to the professional development resources available to students.

Parents or family members looking to get involved in future college activities can sign up to receive email updates and join the UCR BCOE Parent Community Facebook group.

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