The faculty and student participants of the first Brown Bag Lunches organized by HKN.

The Zeta Eta Chapter of IEEE-HKN held its first event of a new initiative on Thursday, February 27, 2020. The event, titled in long-form as “Student/Faculty Brown Bag Lunches,” invited three professors to each join a separate group of about 4-6 students to give professional advice on topics such as industry and graduate school.

It often feels that there is a lack of interaction between students and professors, the only time students interacting with the department being when they have questions on homework or grades. Often students simply don’t know how to begin talking to faculty. These lunches are part of a continuing effort to help students feel comfortable approaching faculty and seeking advice and mentoring.

The goal of the new initiative is not for students to necessarily talk academics with these professors, but to increase the sense of connection between the ECE department and its students. It encourages networking between students and faculty and aims to allow for more informal, casual relationships between the two. It also allows students to have a voice in the department and provides the faculty with another avenue for receiving feedback from students. These lunches serve as an excellent “one-time” mentoring opportunity, where students can learn from these professors about their path to where they are now, their experiences in industry, how they manage work-life balance, or family life as an engineer.

Students join Dr. Willie Harrison of the BYU Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering for lunch and advice about what comes after graduation.

HKN makes an effort to group students and professors by interest and plans after graduation. For example, students interested in graduate school will be grouped together while those who want to go directly into industry are placed together. Additionally, HKN attempts to pair students with professors who they don’t know as well, since the purpose is to get to know more faculty and build a better network.

In an effort to be more inclusive and helpful to all students in the department, this program is not limited to HKN members. Students of all class standings are invited to participate by signing up at hkn.byu.edu/lunch.