Experiential Learning: The Benefits of a Hands-on College Education
The college experience is elevating to a new level, as experiential learning continues to be a vital tool in preparing students for success, both academically and personally.
In this blog, we share the many exciting opportunities for experiential learning that Vaughn provides to give its students a competitive edge and position them for success.
What is experiential learning?
Experiential learning is all about gaining “experience.” It literally is the name of the game, as students are provided with unique opportunities that bridge the gap between academic knowledge and practical skills through “learning by doing” experiences.
Vaughn’s experiential learning opportunities
At Vaughn, students receive more than just an education. They receive priceless exposure to learning experiences that complement—or build upon—their classroom instructions in the fields they love most. What’s great about Vaughn is that it is innately an experiential college, due to the hands-on nature of its programs in engineering, technology, management and aviation. Robotics engineers, drone pilots and aircraft mechanics, for example, are constantly working with their hands to design, build, test, learn and improve. Vaughn’s engineering labs, flight simulator complex, air traffic control room and aviation training institute were built for the purpose of providing hands-on, experiential learning environments for students.
Here, we look at the various kinds of experiential learning opportunities Vaughn offers and how they are giving students a competitive edge in today’s workforce landscape.
Professional conferences and networking events provide students with priceless exposure to potential jobs, networking opportunities and unparalleled learning experiences in their fields. At these events, Vaughn students have opportunities to present their research projects or papers to showcase their hard work, attract employers and ultimately make vital industry connections that lead to internships and jobs.
Here is a sampling of some of the conferences Vaughn students attend every year:
- Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE)
- National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE)
- American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE)
- Society of Women Engineers (SWE)
- Women in Aviation International (WAI)
There’s no denying that landing an internship in your field of study is one of the best ways to gain practical experience and learn if it’s a company and position you can see yourself at for the long-term. By applying the knowledge you’ve learned in the classroom to a real-world setting, you can acquire hands-on experience while developing important workforce skills related to communication, teamwork and problem solving. Vaughn continues to strengthen and grow its employer relationships in the fields of aviation, engineering and management. Some of these companies where students obtain internships include Boeing, LaGuardia Gateway Partners, PANYNJ, Honeywell, Department of Defense, Spirit Airlines, Delta TechOps, Northrop Grumman and several airlines/airports, to name a few.
Multifaceted career support
Vaughn’s career services department helps students through every step of the job placement process – from helping make industry connections, resume writing and interview practice. The career services department organizes two large career fairs on campus every year where students can meet and gather information about potential employers. (Some students even receive internship and job opportunities during these events.) Employer Engagement Days are yet another way that students can make connections with employers. Employers are available on certain days/times and Vaughn students can schedule in-person or Zoom sessions to discuss potential job opportunities.
Student clubs and activities
It’s true that college students need to work hard—but learning is fun when you love what you’re doing. Vaughn offers an abundance of clubs and activities where students can use their hands-on abilities to hone their skills in a relaxed environment with peers who share the same interests.
Below are just a few examples of Vaughn’s experiential clubs and programs:
- Mars Rover Club—Vaughn’s new Mars Rover club is tasked with designing, building and testing lightweight, human-powered rovers on a complex obstacle course. The team recently traveled to Huntsville, Alabama to compete in the Human Exploration Rover Challenge (HERC).
- Robotics Team—Vaughn’s robotics team builds award-winning robots that compete in the VEX Robotics World Championship. Vaughn’s robotics team has won several awards at these competitions over the years, including the world title.
- UAV Club—The uncrewed aerial vehicle club promotes safe, knowledgeable design, construction, and use of drone technology. The UAV team participates in several national competitions each year.
- FAA-UAS certificate program—This cutting-edge certificate program prepares any interested and qualified student to become an uncrewed aircraft systems operator (UAS) while he or she gains hands-on experience in 3D printing and design/construction. Students will receive the skills they need to earn a remote pilot certificate to operate a UAS. We are proud to announce that seven Vaughn students are graduating from the UAS program in 2023! We can’t wait to see what their futures will bring.
Are you ready to gain hands-on experience in something you love doing? Check out Vaughn’s free STEM-focused experiential learning summer programs. Students can earn college credit for engineering and gain valuable industry know-how—all while having fun! Which one will you choose this summer?