A host of students had a chance to explore pursuing careers - with a Bachelor’s of Science degree - at the first annual Careers in Science Undergraduate Conference at Florida International University last month.
There were forensics, biology, engineering, math, physics, chemistry, earth science and agroecology disciplines represented in the presentations and panels. More than 150 students were able to learn from each other and exchange ideas with fellow co-eds. They were able to choose from 20 research lab tours across campus, and to experience an array of interests at various tables, including DNA extraction by students with the Forensic Research Institute and two demonstrations from the Department of Physics.
Math Club members at conference
IFRI students giving DNA demo
The keynote address was given by Dr. Ramon Lopez, professor of physics at the University of Texas at Arlington on “Why the U.S. Needs More Students in Science, Mathematics and Engineering.” The address was followed by "A B.S. is Not Just a B.S." featuring two speakers from FIU, Dr. Joseph Lichter, an instructor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Leanne Wells, coordinator for the Science and Math Teacher Imperative, who together led an interactive discussion engaging students on how to apply their BS degrees to a variety of career tracks, including some they may not have even considered. The speakers included specific examples and local resources, especially regarding job opportunities for undergraduates and students interested in research.
Two panels followed in the afternoon. The first, “Succeed in the Workplace with Your Science or Math Degree” offered students a chance to hear from professionals and employers in a variety of related fields. Panelists discussed why a Bachelor’s of Science degree provides a good skill set to go into almost any field.
The second was a popular student panel discussing “Undergraduate Research and Teaching Opportunities at FIU,” such as the FIU Learning Assistant Program, the McNair Program or working in faculty labs and doing research. Students commented they “liked that all STEM subjects were incorporated into the conference” and that it included discussion on “the variety of jobs available for STEM majors.” Another student mentioned that the conference was “a very motivational and successful event.”
Eric Wawerczyk, president of the FIU Math Club, said he wished more people – especially STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) majors – also understood the importance of math. “Math is a language,” he said. “It teaches you how to think. Math majors could apply to law school and they’ll get accepted because the admissions people understand that math is about deductive reasoning and logic.”
As if to prove his point, Vladimir Diaz, regional director for the Department of Agriculture, approached the math club’s table right on cue and announced that the USDA Public Service Program has future job opportunities available to undergraduate and graduate math students, as well as agroecology students. He said the agriculture department offers two-year combined scholarships and internships leading to permanent employment with the USDA upon completion of their degree. And then he invited all members of the FIU Math Club (in multiple disciplines) to apply for the scholarships.
This conference was co-sponsored by the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Integrated Science and Humanity, Student Government Association, FIU Math Club, FIU Chemistry Club, Minorities in Agriculture and FIU Career Services.
Search engines for jobs mentioned in the conference:
For the PowerPoint featured in the Careers in Science panel: