Students have the first formal contact with the Department of Structural Engineering through orientation that is held at the beginning of the academic year for ALL incoming students. During orientation, a senior faculty member (Chair, Vice-Chair or Undergraduate Committee Chair) welcomes the students and describes the program to them as well as answers any questions. A condensed copy of the Undergraduate Handbook is provided to each student, and the department undergraduate advisors are introduced to the students. Policies and procedures are also elucidated. Since all incoming students are required to take SE 1 - Introduction to Structure and Design, further introductions and descriptions about the Department, its faculty and staff, policies and procedures, are also provided in one of the first classes. This ensures that all incoming students are made welcome and get to know the Department right from the outset.
Each student is assigned a faculty advisor in their first year, and the advisor remains constant through the student's study at UCSD. Faculty advisors serve as direct contacts for the students and provide advice of a technical nature. Students are encouraged to contact their faculty advisor to discuss not just questions, problems, and concerns, but also progress in the degree, and advice related to careers, graduate school, and other activities. In addition, students are encouraged to meet the Chair or Vice-Chair if they have any specific concerns or queries.
Programmatic questions and routine interactions related to course registration are handled by the Undergraduate Affairs Advising Office which is located on the 3rd floor of the SME building. The Undergraduate Affairs Coordinator meets regularly with the Department's Undergraduate Affairs Committee to handle all administrative matters and requests as well as to discuss students concerns, as appropriate. The Department maintains an academic file for each student to record progress and allow for appropriate monitoring and advice. The procedure is to ensure that each student takes the required courses and sequences, and maintains the prerequisite and performance standards.
In general the Department does not allow deviations from the prescribed curricula. Program alterations or exceptions to stated requirements are made, only when appropriate and justifiable, through a written procedure, by petition. The petition is first reviewed by the Undergraduate Affairs Coordinator, and then must be reviewed for potential approval by the Undergraduate Affairs Committee. In cases where prerequisites are concerns, the faculty member teaching the course is also required to review the petition prior to it being reviewed by the Undergraduate Affairs Committee.