Minding Their Manners: Students Learn Etiquette Skills at Annual Dinner

by Shreya Trivedi

BMW. The immediate image these letters invoke in one’s mind is of a sleek and luxurious automobile. But for members of Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and Society of Hispanic Professionals (SHPE) at Penn State who attended the etiquette dinner on Thursday, January 22, it means something entirely different.

Ms. Diana Zeisky, the etiquette coach at the event, etched a new meaning for BMW in our minds – Bread, Meal and Water.

The Etiquette Dinner is organized by SWE every year at The Nittany Lion Inn. The attendees have a great opportunity to network with students from different majors.

Increasing number of employers are conducting interviews or corporate dinners or networking events which includes food. Learning about etiquette is a very important skill for students as it helps establish the self-confidence needed for job interviews conducted over a lunch. Interviews are stressful enough without having to wonder what fork should be used during which course or what to do with your napkin if it falls on the floor. Also it is important to learn the soft skills to differentiate yourself from all the other candidates.

The etiquette dinner gave the students an opportunity to avoid any embarrassing table stories.
The dinner began with introductions and small talk, before the students began the delicious four-course meal. Ms. Zeisky started with the importance of a firm handshake and demonstrated the same with volunteers from the audience.

For every course, she told us to go ahead in the way we thought was right and then demonstrated the correct way to go about eating that course of the meal. She also discussed the different resting position and position indicating that you are done with the meal. These little things are of importance as you are at the event to network or concentrate on the interview and hence you don’t want to be bothered by the waiter asking to clear your plate.

And the most important message that she gave was etiquette is not just about eating, it is rather about the conversation.

The dinner event would not have been possible without the generosity of SWE’s corporate sponsor – Noble Energy, and of course the very talented and inspiring coach Ms. Diana Zeisky.

Whilst this annual event gives much needed confidence boost to our members, our sponsors also get an opportunity to showcase and position their organizations, and let prospective applicants know about various employment opportunities and what skills are they are seeking.

Shreya Trivedi is a junior majoring in aerospace engineering with minors in Engineering Leadership  Development and Engineering Entrepreneurship. A native of Ahmedabad, Gujarat (India), she serves as professional development director for the Society of Women Engineers and the Engineering Orientation Network, and a Resident Assistant for Penn State’s Residence Life. Shreya hopes to someday pursue a career in the aerospace field.

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All in a Day’s Work: Lab Focuses on Human Factors of Today’s Work Environment

by Andris Freivalds

Benjamin Niebel was a professor and long-time department head.

Benjamin Niebel was a professor and long-time department head.

Ben Niebel was the long-time head of the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering (1955-1978) and the original author of a very popular industrial engineering textbook (Methods, Standards, and Work Design), now in its thirteenth edition. Due to his generosity and an endowment established in 1997, the Ben Niebel Work Design Lab was developed in the then newly constructed Leonhard Building.

This laboratory serves two purposes. It is the main teaching laboratory for the various work design courses: IE 327, Introduction to Work Design; IE 408, Cognitive Work Design; IE 419, Work Design-Productivity and Safety; and IE 553, Engineering of Human Work.

Simultaneously, it serves as the research laboratory for physical ergonomics and work design. Consequently, well over a hundred students use it per semester, including not only undergraduate and graduate students of the department for their required courses but also WISER (Women in Science and Engineering Research) students and other potential students who might be interested in majoring in industrial engineering after being exposed to the types of research being performed here.

The lab provides close to 1,000 square feet of space dedicated to human factors research and education.

The lab provides close to 1,000 square feet of space dedicated to human factors research and education.

Among the major pieces of equipment housed in this lab are: eight workstations with a PC, each accommodating three students; a treadmill and an exercise bicycle ergometer; metabolic and strength measuring equipment; two industrial workstations; and a variety of smaller instruments to measure noise, light, heat stress, hearing, vision, anthropometry, etc.

The PC workstations are used regularly for students to watch videos of real-life jobs on which they perform time or work sampling studies to determine a standard time for those jobs and/or also redesign those jobs to more ergonomically acceptable standards.

The smaller instruments measure human capabilities and limitations, as well as environmental conditions that need to be optimized for jobs.

The exercise and metabolic equipment help graduate students understand work physiology and human limitations on 8-hour a day jobs.

Andris Freivalds is a professor of industrial engineering. He joined Penn State in 1980. Freivalds is a fellow of the Institute of Industrial Engineers and the Ergonomics Society. His awards and honors include the Penn State Engineering Alumni Society’s Outstanding Research, Outstanding Teaching, and Premier Teaching Awards.

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