Engineering student professional organizations soar to success

6th annual BCOE Match Challenge brings in $108,000 for student learning, engineering experiences and professional development

Classrooms – where students learn theory. Labs – where students test theory. Student professional organizations – where students enhance that knowledge by sharpening their leadership and professional skills.

These organizations recently received a significant boost through the generosity of alumni and Marlan and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering (BCOE) supporters. Financial support from October’s annual BCOE Match Challenge helped drum up donations for student professional organizations, totaling the most donors in the challenge’s six-year history.

“Match Challenge is a crucial fundraising technique for BCOE-recognized student organizations,” said Fernanda Rojas, professional development coordinator at BCOE. “The funds help expand students’ professional growth and allow them to gain hands-on experience by participating in projects and competitions, such as the American Institute of Chemical Engineers’ Chem-E car and Engineers Without Borders’ work to build sustainable solutions for developing nations.”

Grayson Young, a mechanical engineering undergraduate student and president of UCR Formula SAE Electric Racing (FSAE) said that “without this challenge, we would have to significantly look more at outside sources for fundraising.”  

Each dollar donated to the Dean’s Innovation Fund toward a student professional organization is “matched” up to $1,000 per donor.

Primary matching donors this year included Triad Magnetics, Josh Wong, Honglin Liu and Quynh Nguyen.

Out of the 12 student organizations that participated in the Match Challenge, the below top-earning groups are making an impact at UCR and beyond:

Off to the Races


FSAE_Michigan competition with vehicle
The FSAE team takes their vehicle for a spin at the competition in Michigan.

FSAE raised the most amount of funds during the Match Challenge at $34,233, which is $11,000 more than they did via the 2022 challenge.

Funds will propel their electric vehicle, the club’s flagship project, into future national competitions for years to come.

This past summer, FSAE caravanned their car, dubbed the HR 23E, Midwest to Michigan to compete against 75 teams from North America, South America and Singapore.

Young said it was “incredibly exciting and enlightening for our team to connect with other schools that have faced similar challenges and thought processes as us. We learned a great deal.”

Looking ahead to next year’s competition, the team is focused on manufacturability and maintainability on their new high-performance vehicle, the HR 24E. They will use matching funds to purchase a chassis, drivetrain, accumulator, corners, and electronic parts of the vehicle.

Mentoring the Next Generation of Engineers
NSBE students_NSBE Annual Convention
NSBE students attend the NSBE Annual Convention.

In second place for most funds raised at $27,320 was the National Society of Black Engineers at UC Riverside (NSBE).

"Alumni giving back! At least 50% of donors [to NSBE in the Match Challenge] are former alumni,” said Roderick Smith, director of student affairs. “I work with NSBE members and on their behalf to connect with alumni for financial and programmatic support."

Aliyah Owens, computer science undergraduate student and NSBE president, said funds will support the group’s K-12 community outreach efforts and other general body activities, as well as help send members to NSBE’s 50th Annual Convention.

Mentorship is a critical component of NSBE’s work. On campus, their Pass the Torch Mentorship Program provides essential peer support for Black freshman and transfer students in a comprehensive year-long curriculum.

That mentorship extends out into the community “to introduce young minds to the field of engineering early on.”

In the latest collaboration with Garvey/Allen STEAM Academy in Moreno Valley, NSBE students are helping STEAM students prepare for the FIRST LEGO League Challenge, an international STEM competition for K-12 students.

The impact? These professional development and leadership opportunities are empowering students’ success.

Abdirahman Abdi, a software engineer at Nextdoor, and Ogechukwu Ogbechie, an environmental engineer at LA Sanitation, and many others participated in the mentorship program and left NSBE’s annual convention with a full-time career opportunity in the bag.

Breaking a Glass Ceiling
SWE_Evening with Industry
SWE members attend their Evening With Industry event.

A chapter of “the world’s largest advocate for women in engineering,” the Society of Women Engineers, SWE at UCR, came in fourth place for fundraising efforts.

Uma Sinha, bioengineering undergraduate student and SWE’s president, expressed gratitude to donors and said she looks forward to showcasing SWE’s upcoming accomplishments.

As the most long-standing student organization at the college, SWE has a legacy of community outreach that has impacted thousands of young women and scientists with a passion for STEM. 

These programs, which will be supported by matching funds, include Bourns Science and Engineering Day and Engineering 'R Future. Funds will also support networking events such as Evening with Industry and Research Networking Night and member attendance at the National SWE Conference, where historically all attendees received interviews and job offers.

For information about how to support these students during the Match Challenge, visit the webpage here.

For information about BCOE’s student professional organizations, visit the webpage here.

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