New center surrounds engineering and computer science students with support

students sit at a table while one student writes on a white board

Students inside the new support center.

Students in Pacific’s School of Engineering and Computer Science have a new place to spend time and take advantage of a variety of resources as part of the school’s goal to ensure they have a top-notch experience.

The new Student Support Center opened its doors at the beginning of the Fall 2022 semester. Located adjacent to the Chambers Technology Center, the 5,000-square-foot building that formerly housed the university’s Human Resources Department features a tutoring center, an open lounge area and staff offices. It is also the new home of academic tutoring, student advising, the CO-OP program, MESA and the Tomorrow Project—programs that span the stages of a student’s journey, from recruitment to career services—co-located for the first time. 

“We’re doubling down on the student experience,” said Dean Elizabeth Orwin. The building, which also includes a small kitchen and food pantry, is open 24/7 to students, accommodating late-night study sessions following evening labs and offering commuter students a place to go between classes. 

Staff consulted with students on the arrangement of the Student Support Center’s space and its features, not only to make the space useful to them, but to foster students’ responsibility for and ownership of the area. They see it as a place where students can gain leadership experience—and the development of student-initiated study groups that meet in the Student Support Center is one way in which that vision is being borne out. 
Academic tutoring options are new, too. “We did a couple of student surveys last year, and the loudest thing we heard was more tutoring,” Orwin said. The new space has allowed tutors and graduate assistants to offer long drop-in tutoring hours in support of a plethora of classes, in coordination with the library’s General Academic Tutoring Center.

“If students want to zero in on a specific concept, 1-on-1 tutoring is offered,” said mathematics major Saul Hererra ’24. “There's a tutor for everything from the simplest of math courses to the hardest engineering ones.”

The new building makes it easier for students facing challenges to locate staff who can offer guidance.

“Students are having a difficult time socially assimilating and reconnecting to the pre-COVID structure of being on campus and attending classes,” said Nancy Elium, head of academic advising and Tomorrow Project administrator. Colleagues’ proximity makes it easier for staff to respond immediately to students’ needs, advising them and connecting them with other services.

The closer proximity to students has also allowed the Support Center staff to gain deeper insight into “how students are processing their roles and responsibilities as a student, how they integrate personal, school and sometimes work life, and how they navigate campus resources,” Elium said. And it enables them to help students develop the skills and habits that will facilitate their success both in college and in their professional and personal lives afterward—in short, educating the whole person. 

“Right now, we’re in the process of building culture,” Orwin said. The ultimate goal is “getting students into a space where they work together, and we share, and we ask for help, and we fail, and we learn.”