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09-19-19-fglite-emilyxu-03

FLITE Executive Board (left to right) Engineering senior Yeleine Pineda, Engineering sophomore Bart Mendrala, Engineering sophomore Adeeba Tak, Engineering and Wharton senior Jesse Cui, and Engineering senior Sarthak Jain.

Credit: Emily Xu

A new Penn student organization is serving first-generation, low-income undergraduates in engineering and technology.

FGLI in Tech and Engineering will focus on decreasing barriers to entry for FGLI students who have an interest in these fields, said FLITE co-president Jesse Cui, an Engineering and Wharton senior. FLITE plans to host workshops for students to build academic skills and provide advice for navigating these industries.

“I wanted to start a community for FGLI students to come together and help one another grow in terms of learning how to succeed in engineering and technology," Cui said.

Engineering sophomore Sarthak Jain, vice president of professional development for FLITE, said some FGLI students face challenges in entering Engineering programs because of limited exposure to these subjects in high school. Jain, who identifies as FGLI, said this was the case for him.

"For me, when I came to Penn I had no exposure to engineering in particular, Jain said. "When I got here, I took my first computer science class. I really liked it.'

"And I think problems like these, the initial barriers to entry, makes it harder for FGLI students to enter tech and engineering," he added.

To address these barriers, Cui said, FLITE plans to host technical workshops on topics such as web development, research, and machine learning as well as recommend free, online resources for students who want to learn on their own.

FLITE recently hosted a welcome dinner on Sept. 17 for interested students. Cui said the student group has been publicized by all of the departments in the School of Engineering and Applied Science as well as tech-related programs in the College.

Cui said the organization aims to inform members about "hidden knowledge" that could help FGLI students navigate technology and engineering such as the advantage of receiving referrals in applying to engineering and technology companies. Cui also noted that Penn students can use work-study positions, such as teaching assistantships and research positions, to help financially as well as professionally.

FLITE Internal Affairs Vice President and Engineering sophomore Adeeba Tak said the club wants to address specific problems that impact different subgroups of FGLI students, such as the work visa application process for international students.

Moving forward, FLITE hopes to build membership and collaborate with other affinity groups, such as Collective Success and the Society of Women Engineers, Cui said.

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