Name: Andrew 

What program are you in here at McMaster?

Ph.D. in Software Engineering.

What year are you in? Kind of in my third year… kind of my second (you start to lose track!)

Why did you decide to become an MCYU in the City facilitator? I like to say that I was headhunted by Beth (one of the leaders of MCYU), but after spending so many of my years in Hamilton and falling in love with the city and people, I saw this as a great opportunity to give back. I figured it was a great way for me to utilize the skillset I’ve sharpened over the past years, and hopefully encourage some students that math and science are fun!

What 3 words would you use to describe your experience as a Volunteer Facilitator? Dynamic, evolving, fun!

What was the most valuable thing you learned or gained from your experience with MCYU? I’d say spontaneity! I don’t think our workshop has gone according to the book once –   there’s  always a student (or group of them) that make you think on your feet! Whether it’s because   they are asking such interesting questions we didn’t expect to touch on, or because the ideas that   are engaging the students have us change the way we’re delivering certain content!

What was one highlight from your experience as an MCYU facilitator? Honestly, I probably have a highlight from each of my workshops delivered because the kids are so hilarious. The first one that comes to me is when one of the students `came-out-of-her-shell’. For some context, the workshop I helped deliver involved the students engineering components (cities, animals, machines, etc) for a planet that they created as a class. The central idea behind the workshop is having the students ask (and understand) why or how their creation is able to ‘work’ on that planet with it’s conditions. One student at the beginning was having none of it, just aimlessly doodling on her piece of paper. After sitting down with her for a minute or two, I found out she didn’t want to be `wrong’ in making her creation, so she didn’t make anything at all. We talked for a bit, and in the end she created this animal that was ‘engineered’ in such a way that she could explain how it was perfectly adapted to the conditions of the planet. As we were leaving she ran up to her teacher and wanted to show him, explaining why the animal looked the way it did, and how it worked. I was so happy that not only did she engage in the workshop, but she wanted others to know, and she could explain it with confidence!

At MCYU our Credo is Question – Discover – Create. Is there anything you’re especially curious about these days? I’m astounded by how technologically literate the youth are today. I’d say I’m curious just how much we can push this beyond just them being able to use technology to understanding it!

Is there anything new you want to push yourself to accomplish this year? I’m always trying to deliver the maths and sciences in new and innovative ways to engage the students in topics they’d otherwise think boring. I’m trying to show how useful (and interesting!) the maths are, beyond just calculations or homework problems: break down the “we’ll never use this outside of class” mindsets!

What are you most excited about this school year? In my studies: tick off more boxes for my degree requirements. For MCYU: incorporate the feedback we received regarding our workshop to improve it!

What’s one of your Favourite spots on campus? The Phoenix – especially on the night where the special is Collective Arts!

Favourite place to study? When I was in undergrad, hands-down Thode Library! Nowadays, any small coffee shop that has free wi-fi, decent coffee, and hipster acoustic music playing.

Favourite Lunch Spot? The Ship on Augusta! Great specials, and even better burgers.

Best hangout spot? Can I say The Ship again?

What do you wish you had known as a first year student? Oh man, I guess I wish I’d known the difference between doing stuff for the sake of a resume or grades, and doing stuff for the life experiences or personal growth. Don’t just volunteer because it’s another bullet point on a resume; take full advantage of the opportunity to expose yourself to the community, grow, and make friends during it. You’ll find the resume builds itself from there, and you’re a better person for it!

If you could travel back in time and visit yourself in first year, what advice would you give yourself? Is there an “everything” option? Join more sports teams, go out more, study more (but also: CHILL), volunteer more, join more groups. There’s so many opportunities in University that aren’t as easily available after, so just take advantage of them! 

If I can also tag on a “second” piece-of-advice, I’d say: don’t drop your hobbies! School’s definitely time-consuming, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the time to do what you actually enjoy (and don’t feel guilty just because it’s not “studying”!).

Can you share some advice on how to meet new people on campus? Definitely by just doing more. Join more groups, sports teams, or volunteer. If you keep an open mind you’ll meet people who are doing the same as you. McMaster is awesome in that there’s a group or club for everything, so whatever your hobby is, there’s probably a group!