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Advisor of the month: October 2018

Daniel Newcomb, Advisor of the Month for October. Advising Matters at Virginia Tech

Daniel Newcomb

Engineering Education, College of Engineering


What do you enjoy about your role in advising?
The aspect of advising that I enjoy the most is being able to build one-to-one relationships between myself and my advisees. As a first-generation college student from Appalachia, I came to trust my advisors in college because they consistently demonstrated to me that I mattered by taking an active interest in my education, by providing me with accurate information, and by empowering me to make my own informed decisions. As an advisor it is important to me that all of my advisees leave my office feeling that they matter to myself, to my department, and to the university as a whole. Furthermore, it is important to me to be appreciative of the differences and needs of my students, and to understand who my students are. Ultimately, I enjoy being a partner in a student's journey through college and to be a reliable resource for them as they transition, succeed, struggle, and dream.

In what ways have you contributed to advising in your department/area?
Though my primary focus is working with students, it is important to me to be part of a larger purpose within the Department of Engineering Education and to ensure that I am contributing to the larger student experience during their first year as an engineering student. I have the ability to interact daily with instructional faculty, research faculty, graduate students, and staff which shapes my understanding of how I fit into the lager department that wants to make sure students are having the best first-year experience possible. We are looking at how advising is more than just working with students, but also how our program can be the best experience inside and outside the classroom. As a new advisor I have the opportunity to work on projects outside of working with students which help enhance my Department's profile, my main undertaking has been to research the Department's history and! develop a historical timeline of that history in preparation for the 50th Anniversary of the Department of Engineering Education. This project has provided me context to how the department was created, the evolution of the first-year engineering curriculum, changes in advising, and how the department saw the need for a team of qualified professional advisors of which I am part of.

What advice would you give to other professionals who want to a make a difference in the life of their students?
My number one piece of advice to give to other advising professionals who want to make a difference is to "take time." That means that we need to "take time" to listen to our advisees to both understand their needs and to let them know that their thoughts matter and are valuable. It also means to "take time" to improve our craft by attending professional development, conferences, or learning more about curriculum in order to become a better professional and, in turn, help our students.