Mac Eng’s first-year preparatory program prioritizes student wellness – Faculty of Engineering

Mac Eng’s first-year preparatory program prioritizes student wellness

The EMBER program will help incoming students prepare wellness strategies and gain confidence to make their first year a great one.

Redsuits stand at a booth at May at Mac.

McMaster Engineering’s EMBER program will help incoming students not only brush up on material, but also prepare student wellness strategies and gain confidence to make their first year a great one.

EMBER, the Faculty of Engineering’s first-year preparatory program, gives students the opportunity to review foundational concepts before they enter the classroom.   

Along with courses in math, physics and chemistry this summer, the program will also incorporate information on student well-being and mental health. 

As students prepare to start their university journeys, they’re confronted with a tremendous amount of change. It’s crucial that we do everything in our power to set up our new Fireball Family members for success.

Vincent Leung, EMBER program lead

“Including sessions on student wellness in the EMBER program is key to easing the transition to university. The importance of students’ mental health cannot be stressed enough.” 

The program, which runs from August 8 to 26, includes online learning modules, live courses, information sessions and interactive workshops. 

Some sessions will be devoted to student wellness elements, such as stress and time management and equity, diversity and inclusion. 

Mentors will guide students on how to navigate first-year academics and help to familiarize students with the power of study groups and student resources. Strategies for note taking, exam preparation and exam taking will also be shared. 

Students will learn about the various resources in engineering – co-op, the student success centre, and academic advisors – and gain insight from a representative from the Student Wellness Centre. 

At the end of the program, students will receive material with resources and tips that they can refer to during the academic year. 

Offered at no cost, EMBER is open to students entering engineering, the Bachelor of Technology program, computer science and Integrated Biomedical Engineering and Health Sciences (iBioMed.) 

Incoming students can mix and match courses from the three-week program to create a unique experience that best prepares them to start university.  

A look back from first participants ever 

Diya Kundu and Melanie Chung were part of the first-ever cohort when EMBER began in 2020. 

Kundu, who’s now entering her third year in materials engineering, said the experience helped her settle into the environment.   

“It was a great way to start off,” she said. “The materials that were provided, the support, all of it made quite a difference in helping me transition.”   

Kundu joined the program from her home in Dubai. While she was still able to attend classes in the evening, she stressed how the accessibility of the program and the recorded sessions made it open to students of all time zones.  

With the added comfort of knowing the program wouldn’t impact her GPA, she said, “we were allowed to make mistakes.” 

There were quite a lot of mentors who shared their experience of university life, so that was quite helpful. We were given opportunities to connect with a couple of professors as well as teaching assistants and upper year students.

Diya Kundu, third-year Materials Engineering student

Chung is entering her third year as a chemical and biomedical engineering student. She registered as a way to refresh her knowledge and said it gave her “a leg up” going into first year. 

“The program is there to help you,” she said. 

She also talked about how EMBER leaders delivered the content in a way that was understandable and accessible. The supportive community is why she chose McMaster. 

“People are there just to learn and everyone’s so supportive. They’re there to help you as opposed to be the best and compete against you,” she said, noting the program was an opportunity for everyone to be on the same level going into university.   

If you’re debating, Chung said, “sign up anyways.” 

In 2021, there were 945 students who registered for EMBER. Here’s what they took away from the experience:  

Student Clarissa

Clarissa, Engineering 1

“EMBER was a great way to solidify my knowledge while figuring out how to learn in a new fast paced environment. The LRA’s made going to tutorials something I looked forward to, and they were always willing to answer questions about content, university life, or even just chat. I am so glad that I participated in EMBER, as I feel much more confident going into the start of first year!”

Smiling student Halima

Halima, Engineering 1

“I loved being able to receive in-depth learning through the modules, tutorials and practice assessments which allowed me to focus my time on each course based on my comfort level. All of the LRAs were super friendly and I really appreciated the flexibility of being able to attend live-sessions and also re-watching the recorded sessions for further clarity. Most of all, I really loved getting to interact with other incoming students, attending the fireball family events & getting to ask upper-years questions ranging from course material to study tips and advice. This has been a great welcome to the MacEng community and I can’t wait to see what else this program has in store for us!”

Smiling student Nihal

Nihal, Computer Science

“EMBER was the perfect build up to what the courses would look like in the first year. With friendly and excellent LRA’s , the EMBER program was able to help us interact and learn different concepts ranging from Computers , Physics , Maths and Chemistry. The support was second to none , and would do it all over again. Well done!!”

Student Emeline

Emeline, iBioMed

Participating in EMBER was a great way to brush up on old content, as well as check for any learning gaps I had before entering my first year at McMaster in the iBioMed program! It helped me feel a lot more prepared, and I’d definitely recommend it for any incoming first years.”