Illinois Student Senate looks into co-sponsoring Engineering Open House

By Megan Jones

As the Engineering Open House draws more than 20,000 visitors each year, Illinois student senator Zach Bass, junior in Business and former Illini Media employee, submitted a resolution to co-sponsor the event to help further the senate’s outreach. 

The Illinois Student Senate can either pay $1,000 to have its presence included in promotional materials or $3,000 to host a booth at the event, in which senators can reach out to constituents. Bass recommended that the senate allocate $3,000 so they can extend communication efforts to its furthest extent. 

“The school of Engineering is the No. 5 ranked program in the nation, and we want to keep getting good students into the school, so we need to show them what we offer and why it’s such a great school,” said M. Connor Schickel, senior in Engineering.

The open house features 250 exhibits, ranging from concrete crushing to Newtonian fluid demonstrations, and will take place March 14 and 15.

“It’s the showcase of our University. This is a chance for (prospective students) to come to our University … and see what’s happening in the College of Engineering,” Bass said. “My personal recommendation is $3,000 because I like the idea that the senators are there and can interact with their constituents.” 

The student-led event receives no planning or financial help from either the administration or College of Engineering officials. Each year, the Engineering Open House committee has a budget of $55,000. From that, $15,000 is allocated to exhibitors, according to the resolution. 

“From the ground up, starting from scratch, this is an event where every logistic is taken care of by the committee,” said Engineering Open House Director Doug Podgorny, junior in Engineering. “We’re in charge of sourcing funding, managing exhibitors, managing volunteers, creating visitor information, marketing the event internally and externally and providing entertainment and food for the event.” 

The Engineering Open House Central Committee has raised 75 percent of its budget so far, leaving $14,000 remaining, Bass said. 

If the senate chooses to cosponsor the event, the allocation will help them financially, as the event requires a “great deal” of sponsorship each year. He added that it will increase the overall quality of the event, as the committee will be able to fund more exhibits. 

“It’s opening doors for us to work a little bit more with groups outside of Engineering,” Podgorny said. “It’s fostering connections outside of the Engineering Council and north of Green (Street), which is beneficial for us going forward.” 

The idea began as part of Vice President-External Carey Ash’s communication initiative, after which Bass began to reach out to more colleges on campus and to attend the councils for the colleges of Engineering and Business. 

“With the initiative that we did, obviously we’re going to get a lot of funding requests and a huge majority of them I said no to,” Bass said. “But I thought this was actually applicable to the senate. Naturally, you’re going to get a lot of funding requests that, as a senate, we just can’t fund because if we tried funding each one we’d be broke.” 

He added that the senate is doing its job by funding this and helping students in any way is a positive thing. 

“This will not be charitable giving, but rather an opportunity to continue our communication effort,” Bass said. 

The resolution was sent to the senate’s Committee on Financial Affairs. 

Megan can be reached at [email protected] and @meganash_jones.