SASE chapter triples its membership


The Society of Asian Scientists (SASE), a student-run organization at Texas A&M University, has tripled its membership in the last year, making it a runner up for “Most Improved Chapter” during the SASE national conference held recently.

Yuki Oji, a junior mechanical engineering major and president of SASE, attributes much of the club’s success to its ability to offer professional interaction with industry representatives, balanced with a comfortable, close-knit social environment. The group has more than 100 members, with more than 80 students playing an active role.

Getting involved

SASE was established at Texas A&M in 2013, Oji’s freshman year. He and vice president, Rong Xu, met at the organization’s inaugural event, and neither knew they would one day become so involved in the club.

“My freshman year, I was not very involved,” Xu, a mechanical engineering major, said. “Now as a senior, I look back and think I could have been involved more. It’s the best way to make friends and meet people.”

Oji said he was very reserved when he first came to Texas A&M, but becoming a part of SASE helped him come out of his shell.

“I found that SASE provided me the best opportunity to comfortably develop my professional skills,” Oji said. “Looking back, I really realize how much I’ve grown as a person. I am more confident.”

Opportunities abound

Xu said the majority of the organization’s funding comes from corporate sponsors. Contacting them and setting up workshops is one of his main duties as vice president.

In the past, the group mostly hosted oil and gas companies. This year, Xu reached out to Microsoft, Google, General Motors, construction companies and consulting companies, bringing in a diverse range of workshops that can appeal to students in any science and engineering discipline.

At national conferences, SASE members have the opportunity to attend more workshops and a career fair. This year, about 40 members attended the national conference in Houston, many receiving offers for internships and co-op opportunities.

Xu is preparing for a second interview with a major consumer goods company for a full-time job, and Oji has received offers for internships and co-ops as well. On-the-spot interviews at SASE conferences — and sometimes job offers — are not uncommon, they said.

An organization for everyone

Though the organization’s name may sound like it is only for those from Asian backgrounds, Oji said they have many members of different ethnicities and cultures.

“If you have a passion to develop your professional skills and make friends, this is the type of organization it is,” Oji said.

At meetings, Oji said they often eat different kinds of Asian food and share interesting facts about different Asian and American cultures.

Mentor program

Emily Banditrat, a sophomore general engineering student, joined SASE because of the comfortable atmosphere it provided.  

“SASE has a mentor/mentee program,” she said. “I actually got to know some people, and that’s why I stayed.”

Chemical engineering student Frederica Shih agreed. She and Banditrat were both mentees last year, and this year they are mentors. They said the mentor program is mutually beneficial, allowing students to give advice and share experiences.  

“I can honestly say that my old mentor is one of my best friends,” Shih said. “Most of my friends come from SASE.”

Xu has established a study group, where he can meet with other SASE members and do homework, play some games and socialize.

“I want to get to know them on a personal level,” he said.

As president, Oji said the mentor program is something he’d really like to see continue.

“If it weren’t for the support I received from upper classmen, I probably would be a little behind in terms of getting an internship, or even pursuing a higher (officer) position,” he said. “As president, that’s what I strive to do. I really want to maintain this tradition.”