Dartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of EngineeringDartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of Engineering

Random Walk: Engineering First-Year Trips

Emily Mason-Osann ’11 Th’12 directs a First-Year Trip
Photograph by Eli Burakian ’00.

When Emily Mason-Osann ’11 Th’12 signed up as director of Dartmouth’s First-Year Trips, she brought more than enthusiasm to the job. She also brought her engineering skills. She oversaw 350 student volunteers and the logistics for transport, food, tee shirts, and other organizational details for 1,300 people participating in the pre-fall term orientation outings for Dartmouth’s incoming freshmen. “We put in over 77,000 volunteer hours this year, not including my paid hours,” she notes. A checklist in the director’s manual helped her manage the workload, but the real advantage, she says, was “being able to look at it as a complex system and see how all the parts of it work together and support each other and how changing one aspect can change the efficiency or tone and have a major impact.” One such change was packing group gear the night before a trip rather than the morning of the trip. “Because of that we had fewer calls to our safety phone about missing gear. Something we did for getting an earlier start made a big impact on how prepared people were,” she says. “The experience helped me think critically about the root of a problem, what needs to be fixed, what doesn’t matter. It was cool to practice this in a nontechnical setting, and it will be transferable back to engineering.” Mason-Osann says her favorite parts of the job were getting to tell the traditional Doc Benton ghost story to the freshmen at Moosilauke Ravine Lodge and “watching the students come back from the trips and seeing how much they had changed. They came in nervous and came back excited to be at Dartmouth and starting to feel like this is their community and their home. That was an awesome feeling.”

Categories: Random Walk

Tags: alumni, complex systems, extra-curricular, students

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