Finding a big community in a small major


Finding a big community in a small major

Maddie Weller

November 16, 2021


Hi my name is Maddie Weller and I'm a senior in Materials Science and Engineering. When I came into college, I was still a girl stuck in her shell she hid in for all of high school. I had expected college to be pretty similar; I’d make some good friends, but I didn’t think I’d branch out and meet new people everywhere I went. In a shocking turn of events, the opposite happened.
My first experience meeting new people on campus was at the Women in Engineering Orientation. I started to make friends and build connections immediately, and some of the girls I met are still my good friends to this day. Once orientation was over and classes started, I was added to my class group chats. That may not sound very exciting, but it was there where all the students in class got to know each other. In my Material Science introductory class group chat, all the MatSE students bonded over the fun things we did in class and in study groups. In study groups, a bunch of students would go through homework problems together, and, more often than not, we’d mess around with and get to know each other by telling jokes, sharing memes, sharing music, talking about things we did when we were in high school, or making plans for the weekend.
It was in these study groups and group chats that I saw how tight knit the Material Science community is at Illinois. People in my study groups started to become people in my friend groups. We would all hang out and help each other become better students and get more involved.

Most of the people I had met in MatSE were also involved in the student organization associated with Material Engineering, Material Advantage. This led me to get more involved in the RSO. Material Advantage is a great organization to be a part of if you’re studying material science or just interested in materials. It brings students together in social and professional settings so that we can grow individually and together. We are given opportunities to make friends as well as build a strong network with current and past Material Science students from UIUC. Over my time being involved, I went from being an avid member my sophomore year, to becoming the social chair my junior year, to now being the president as a senior.
Getting involved in Material Advantage was probably one of the best things I did for myself in college. When the pandemic hit, I think everyone really struggled to find something good for themselves on a daily basis, but being the social chair of Material Advantage, I had to be involved. Because of this, I went to virtual happy hours twice a week, game nights, and holiday events like virtual Friendsgiving and Secret Santa. Through all of these events, I’ve been able to get close with a lot of different people in MatSE, regardless of what year they’re in, and they’ve made a large impact on me since getting closer. We’ve worked together in classes to finish homework or study for exams. I’ve also gotten advice on what classes to take and what professors to have. They have also become a part of my network giving me connections at big companies that hire Material Scientists, such as P&G, Chevron, and Texas Instruments.
As the current President of Material Advantage, I have gotten to know a lot more people in my major through social events, our freshmen mentorship program, and promoting the RSO. Early on this year, I got to meet all the new freshmen in their intro class to tell them about my experience in MatSE and give them tips that I have. The biggest piece of advice that I have to give them is how important it is to get involved and build your support system. I also tell them that I might be a little biased.