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CEAS Students Take Advantage of Silicon Valley Summit Experience

January 6, 2017
Students and UW personnel of UW tour Twitter headquarters.
Students and UW personnel of UW tour Twitter headquarters.

Eight students from the University of Wyoming took advantage of an opportunity to meet with top engineering and business professionals over the summer.
The Student TREK, a trip organized by the College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS), took place Aug. 22-25. It featured CEAS students, who met with accomplished UW alumni as part of the Technology and Entrepreneur Summit in San Jose, Calif.
The students who attended the event included James Scott (computer science), Kyle Gilman (electrical engineering), Jake Streett (computer science), Cody Sackett (chemical engineering), Maja Gorsic (electrical engineering), Zephaniah Connell (computer engineering), Austen Williamson (mechanical engineering) and Alexander Brown (chemical engineering). Several UW personnel made the trip including Carl Frick (department head of mechanical engineering), Dennis Coon (H.T. Person professor), Jon Benson (chief executive officer of Wyoming Technology Business Center), Ann Jones (associate director of CEAS Center for Student Success/Center for Advising and Career Services), Keener Fry (executive director of Wyoming Alumni Association), Michael Pishko (CEAS dean) and Craig Russow (major gift officer, UW Foundation).
Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, San Jose is the location of many technology giants including Facebook, Google and Oracle. For UW students, the trip represented a unique opportunity to see Silicon Valley from an insider’s perspective—from graduates of UW.
In order to be considered for the trip, CEAS students submitted written essays to the TREK selection committee discussing their interest in entrepreneurship and technology. Eight students were selected to attend the three-day event to tour the workplaces of UW alumni. Among the locations students visited included the offices of Twitter, AutoDesk, and the J. Lohr Vineyard and Winery.  
Jacob Streett, a senior computer science major, says the experience was eye-opening, and he was struck by the humility and generosity of the UW alumni.
“There are some amazing people who came from our university," Streett says. "We only saw a handful of graduates, but the few we saw held employment in many large and successful companies.
“I got so much value out of the short conversations with alumni. The time these people gave and the willingness they had to help was invaluable to me."
Students spent time with the UW alumni at work and in casual settings, which allowed them to informally meet and discuss life and career experiences, including the journey from the high plains of Laramie, Wyo., to the sunny California coast.  
"Most the individuals we met didn't even go the generic route with the degrees they obtained," says Cody Sackett, a senior in chemical engineering with a simultaneous degree in finance. "It was refreshing to see we are not boxed into specific jobs."  
Sackett says seeing the journeys many of the alums took to be where they were gave him reassurance about his rapidly approaching graduation and entrance into industry.
"I think a lot of college students, including myself, go into panic mode towards the end of their college career if they don't get the perfect job all lined up," he says.  
Dennis Coon, a mechanical engineering professor and chaperone for the trip, hoped the trip helped the soon-to-be UW grads feel better about the future.
"Don't set your goals based on the opportunities that you see," Coon says. "Rather, find your passion and let your passion drive new opportunities. I returned from this trip reinvigorated and recommitted to the goal of helping our students become highly successful alumni.”  
Other students, such as Zephaniah Connell, also were invigorated by the experience. With a hope to be at the forefront of nanotechnology, Connell believed the experience helped him tap into knowledgeable potential networks in Silicon Valley. Moreover, the trip helped him focus upon his goals.
“I have new-found confidence to work toward my true goals, rather than settle for a ‘good job,’” he says.
The CEAS hopes to organize at least one Student TREK per semester. The next Student TREK will be the Energy Summit to Houston, Texas, on Jan. 17-19. Company and alumni visits include Hess, BP, Halliburton and Marathon.

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