By Trevor Stewart
Jonas Langlois ’19 is an intelligent, ambitious student – he is double majoring in mechanical engineering and aerospace science and engineering – but he’s struggled with a few courses during his academic career. While enrolled in the Engineering 103 Fluid Mechanics course, Langlois was overwhelmed with the number of formulas he needed to memorize and was in danger of not passing the class. Then he discovered the Chevron Tutoring Center in Bainer Hall 2103.
“After going to the center and getting one-on-one help from one of my peers, I was able to do much better in class,” Langlois said. “It really got me back on track.”
The Chevron Tutoring Center launched in the 2016 winter quarter, by way of a generous donation from the Chevron Corporation. The center set out to offer in-house tutoring for courses with the intention of enhancing the learning experience for all students, both within the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering department and beyond. The Chevron Tutoring Center partnered with the UC Davis Student Academic Success Center to hire and train a tutor for each individual course.
Becoming a tutor
Kimberly Tanaka ’18, who is double-majoring in biomedical engineering and computer science and engineering, is the Engineering 105 Thermodynamics course tutor. Tanaka said she always helped friends figure out easy ways to solve problems and was inspired to become a tutor. Her favorite part of tutoring is seeing that moment when a student finally comes to understand a complex problem.
“Students often know what they’re doing when they come in, they just don’t know that they know what they’re doing,” she laughed. “As a tutor, I get to be there and help them talk themselves through the problem-solving process. I also help instill confidence in them by showing them they are on the right track to a solution.”
Students who have done well in their respective classes are recruited by the center. The tutor applicants then give a tutoring demo using techniques that are best practices among tutoring programs. These demos, called job discussions, are scored, and the highest-rated tutors are hired to work in the program.
Ian Sloop ’20, who is double-majoring in aerospace science and engineering and mechanical engineering, said many of the students he tutors for the Engineering 102 Dynamics course appreciate the one-on-one attention and relaxed environment.
“It makes it less intimidating to have one of your peers helping you,” Sloop said. “When we do our jobs right – not talking over the students or micromanaging them, just simply serving as a resource for them, they learn a lot better.”
Help when it’s needed most
Langlois said his favorite part about the Chevron Tutoring Center is the ability to be able to swing by anytime during the open hours, without needing an appointment. He is grateful for Chevron’s philanthropic support of the tutoring center.
“The tutoring center has been a huge benefit to me,” Langlois said. “Doing well in my classes will help me attain my dream job working for NASA or Boeing.”