One of the cool things about UVa is the unique experiences you get to have in the classroom. It is interesting to see the different ways professors teach material and try to help us prepare for our future careers. As a first year engineering student you are required to take Sociotechnical Systems, better known as STS. The course is unique to UVa and is designed to help future engineers better understand the effects that technology has on society and life. They need to understand how their decisions could affect the world. One of the staples of this class is a class session called “Katrina Sim.” Katrina Sim takes place over two days, a normal hour and fifteen minute class period, and then a large 6:30pm to 11pm session later that week. It can definitely be classified as a memorable experience. As you and your fellow engineering first years flock into Clark Hall you can feel all the different emotions mixing together, no one really knows what to expect. Ten minutes later it’s a frenzy! The Department of Homeland Security is telling FEMA they need to get levees built, some environmental agency needs shelters, and the mayor’s office tells everyone there is another storm on the way. The whole event is done using a computer program that allows the different groups to link together and send emails, exchange money, and build and design technology to help reform the city. At the end of the simulation everyone just wants to go home and go to sleep, but we all realized that we have had valuable experience of what we may expect once we enter our careers. We learn how to manage demands from multiple companies and still get things done that benefit our own cause. Katrina Sim is just one example of cool ways that professors teach their curricula. Look around when picking your classes and see what interesting things you can find. Or if you have a good idea feel free to email your professor, you never know what they may be interested in implementing into their course. UVa is a great place to be if you enjoy learning in new, different, and interesting ways.
(Peter Malm, 1st year engineering student visually expresses how he felt at the beginning of Katrina Sim)