News at Smith

QUEST Orientation: Building and Connecting the QUEST Community

Oct 01, 2007
Experiential / Reality-based Learning

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QUEST senior students work together on low-ropes activities at the first annual Senior Orientation, held on Aug. 24 at Genesee Valley Outdoor Learning Center.

Each spring, the Quality Enhancement Systems and Teams (QUEST) Honors Fellows Program admits 75 new students to the program. On August 26-27, 2007, the new students were introduced to the QUEST program at the annual New Student Orientation, held at Camp Horizons in Harrisonburg, Va. New Student Orientation provides students with the chance to begin collaborating, which is especially critical given that students are in the same cohort for all three years. The QUEST community is built during the New Student Orientation. It affords incoming students an opportunity to understand what QUEST is all about and start engaging in the program, stated Rachel Cohen, QUEST Program Coordinator.

At orientation, students participate in ice-breaker activities, low ropes and team building programs, and specialized QUEST activities that introduce many of the concepts elaborated upon in BMGT/ENES 190H: Introduction to Design and Quality, the initial course in the QUEST sequence.

A group of incoming QUEST students connect and rise to the top during team-building activities at orientation.

Orientation is also a platform for student teams to connect. BMGT/ENMES 190H is a team-based course and each team has a student mentor with whom they connect during the offsite program. The QUEST Mentor Program engages second- and third-year QUEST students who participate in coursework geared to guiding the student teams through the BMGT/ENES 190H experience. Im a mentor because I appreciate the impact that QUEST has made on my way of thinking about my future and am eager to help others receive the same benefits that the program has given me, said Matt Sriram, a second-year QUEST student.

QUEST also held its first Senior Orientation at Genesee Valley Outdoor Learning Center, located north of Baltimore, on Aug. 24. The Senior Orientation brings students together prior to the start of the semester to prepare them for their final QUEST course BMGT/ENES 490H: The Total Quality Practicum. 490H is a team-based course where students consult on a project for a professional organization.

During the day, students engage in physical challenges and team building activities to reconnect with one another and with the program. While participating in team building ropes activities, I was able to see first hand the various strengths of my classmates. I think orientation truly builds a community amongst QUEST third-year students by getting us out of our comfortable environment and submerging us into a day of activities at a camp, remarked QUEST senior student Ilana Jaffey.

New QUEST students collaborate during brainstorming session at Camp Horizons in Harrisonburg, Va., at New Student Orientation.

Orientation programming is only one aspect of the program that integrates students into the QUEST Learning Community. The community is home to students, faculty, staff, alumni, and professional partners who all play a valuable role in creating the overall QUEST experience. Community members contribute to a wide range of shared learning experiences, networking and project opportunities through initiatives including classroom education and Integrating QUEST (IQ) Events, which are extracurricular and provide a forum for learning that extends beyond the classroom.

The Quality Enhancement Systems and Teams (QUEST) Honors Fellows program is a three-year undergraduate program providing a reality-based learning experience for students across three disciplines at the University of Maryland. QUEST unites students from business, engineering and computer, mathematical and physical sciences. QUEST courses are focused on cross-functional collaboration, quantitative methods, interactive planning, and quality principles.

Further information on the QUEST program can be found at: www.rhsmith.umd.edu/quest.

▓ Pete Baird, MBA Candidate Class of 2009, Smith Media Group

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