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EMBER program helps first year students gain confidence to succeedSeptember 11, 2020

This past August, around 600 McMaster Engineering students participated in EMBER, a new two-week online program that prepared students for their first year.

EMBER, which stands for Engineering Mentorship & Bridging Education Resources, introduced students to foundational concepts of engineering with courses in math, physics and chemistry.

Created by students, for students, course content was delivered through daily live tutorials led by seven upper year engineering students. Self-paced learning modules offered videos, quizzes and interactive simulations.

“We received an overwhelming response to the EMBER program and were excited to support our incoming undergraduate students,” says Associate Dean (Academic) Steve Hranilovic.

“Students now have the confidence and tools they need to be successful in their first year. They start their studies having already developed connections with their peers and upper year students.”

According to a feedback survey of 125 students who participated in the program, 96 per cent felt more prepared for first year.

“The modules, practice tests and tutorials gave me an in-depth understanding that I needed and even introduced some material taught in first year,” says Lucas Haber, a first year iBioMed student.

“The material was tough,” admits Harleen Jaryal, an Engineering 1 Co-op student. “But the challenges and questions that they introduced helped me gain analytical and problem-solving skills.”

Another advantage to the program was the opportunity to interact with upper year students who led tutorials as learning resource assistants (LRAs).

From the survey, 94 per cent of the students found the LRAs helpful and welcoming.

“Learning from upper years provided a stress-free environment, and an experience to make occasional jokes with your LRAs,” says Willie Pai, Engineering 1 student. “From Picasso to Michaelangelo, I was never dissatisfied by my LRAs' drawings.”

“The LRAs provided help to students and generous detailing of the concepts covered during EMBER,” adds Serena Mohabir, Engineering 1 student.

Students also enjoyed online presentations in between tutorials to learn about McMaster Engineering resources and clubs and teams and to network with the Fireball Family community.   

“Presentations in between my tutorials helped me become aware of services available at McMaster, some of which I could start participating in at the same time as EMBER,” says Kristen Di Loreto, Engineering 1 student.

“By the end of the program I was well prepared for the upcoming school year and was on an even playing field with my peers.”

During the program, four EMBER Social Ambassadors shared their experiences through takeovers on the McMaster Engineering Instagram account.

Tasneem Majid, a first year Computer Science student, captured her experience from her home in Dubai.

“I received an overwhelming response [from my takeover] from many seniors, incoming students as well as some students who are now motivated to join Mac Eng,” says Majid.

“The best part was that they connected with me on my personal Instagram, motivated me with their appreciation and were really interested about studying at McMaster, especially people living in the Middle East!”