For many freshmen, dorm life provides not only an economical living arrangement but an opportunity to develop a meaningful campus life studying and relaxing with other students and participating in student clubs.
Just ask Youssef Fahmy, a mechanical engineering sophomore from Cairo, Egypt. He moved into campus housing as a freshman and quickly got involved in campus life, volunteering as a College of Engineering Ambassador, joining multiple engineering student organizations, and becoming a resident assistant for his campus housing building. It was in this role where he saw an opportunity to really make a difference.
“Engineering courses are quite challenging, and many times some of your best resources are other engineering students, whether it’s helping you to understand complex concepts, or just knowing what you’re going through,” explained Fahmy. “But with campus housing at the exact opposite end of campus, once we leave the engineering buildings, we’re kind of on our own.”
Fahmy became aware of other special interest housing on campus and began inquiring about a potential engineering floor for students. He surveyed current engineering students living on campus and found there was more than enough interest. Now he just needed to convince UNLV that the College of Engineering was behind it.
“As UNLV’s professor-in-residence for housing & residential life, and as director of STEM and STEP programs for the College of Engineering, I fully supported what Youssef was trying to accomplish and was in a unique position to help,” said professor Daniel Asera.
Engineering Dean Rama Venkat was aware of national studies at other universities that showed that learning communities offered in student housing are very effective in providing a sense of belonging among students with common majors, interests, or backgrounds. With improving retention being an important focus for the college, Venkat lent his support to the effort.
With commitment from the college’s leadership and student organizations, professor Asera’s support, and interest from students, the proposal for an engineering life and living floor was approved by UNLV’s housing and residential life office.
The Engineering Life and Living floor, one of several special interest housing floors in the UNLV residence halls, is located on the 6th floor of Tonopah Hall’s North Tower. In addition to living quarters and common areas for students to meet and engage with one another, it also includes a computer lab with engineering-specific software. Now students living on the floor can conduct their research, and complete their homework and projects without having to travel across campus to the engineering complex.
“We’re committed to supporting our students academically, financially, and socially to make sure that they have the best educational experience possible,” said Venkat. “The opening of the engineering floor is just one more way for us to provide resources and support to help them be successful in our college, and at UNLV.”