Students hoping to get involved in STEM-based student organizations on campus have a dizzying number of options. Most majors have dedicated clubs. There are also clubs based around engineering design competitions. Other clubs are based around a collective interest. In addition, there are organizations for underrepresented backgrounds within STEM.

Here are five student organizations The Badger Herald was able to interview at Tuesday’s Student Organization fair.

Audubon Society

The earliest time at which UW Audubon Society club president Cole Roecker has ever started a birdwatch trip was 3:45 a.m. But for new birdwatchers, the club plans on hosting an introductory bird watching series with a much less intimidating start time —  8:30 a.m.

The Society is a space for all those interested in birds, birdwatching and conservation. Members need not be STEM majors. Roecker himself is studying History, English and French.

“We do conservation work with a sort of central theme of birding, birdwatching, ornithology — that sort of thing,” Roecker said. “Ultimately, we’re an environmental organization and look to make UW and the campus area more sustainable and more environmentally friendly, especially for birds.”

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Women in Scientific Education and Research

Though the number of women in STEM fields continues to grow, underrepresentation persists. The discrepancy isn’t as drastic as it was in 1970, when only 8% of the STEM workforce was made up of women, but today only 27% of STEM jobs are held by women, according to the Census Bureau.

Women in Scientific Education and Research seeks to challenge underrepresentation by connecting undergraduate women with research labs on campus, club VP Rylie Roddick said.

“Our general meetings are with women professors, researchers and sometimes physicians, who will come in and talk about their pathway from undergrad to grad school, med school or a PhD program,” Roddick said.

WISER doesn’t only work with undergrads. One of Roddick’s favorite memories was helping elementary school girls run science experiments virtually.

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WiscWind

WiscWind offers students with an interest in renewable energy and wind power a chance to participate in the Department of Energy’s annual Collegiate Wind Competition. This summer marked the club’s sixth consecutive appearance.

Though most members come from engineering disciplines, the club accepts all majors, Communications Team Leader Nina Bosnjak said.

The team must do more than just build a fully functional mini-turbine. They also have to pick out an ideal spot for an 100 megawatt wind farm and perform a full environmental infrastructure analysis, Bosnjak said. The last aspect the competition evaluates is outreach.

As part of their outreach, the team helped host a high school version of the competition for the state of Wisconsin. Bosnjak got a chance to mentor high schoolers building their own miniature windmills.

“Even though last year, with COVID, everything was virtual, I still got to help out and meet all these high school kids that were building wind turbine prototypes and getting really excited about it,” Bosnjak said. “And it was just a really fun experience for me.”

JUST

The Journal of Undergraduate Science and Technology sets itself apart by being the only peer-reviewed research and science communication journal on campus, Editor in Chief Aadhishre Kasat said. For students interested in a career in research, it’s a great opportunity to learn the skills of academic writing.

Each issue is split into two parts. The first section features articles communicating the cutting edge research taking place at UW in language that is simple and easy to understand. Also included are science articles about current, relevant topics  —including the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The pandemic has taught us how important it is for all parts of our society to understand science, because miscommunication and misinterpretation can be scary, it can even be fatal, as we’ve seen,” Kasat said.

Meanwhile, the second section actually publishes primary and secondary research papers written by undergraduate students. The deadline for submissions for the fall issue is Sept. 27.

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Badgerloop

The last time Elon Musk held a collegiate Hyperloop competition was in 2019. Back then, the goal was to design, build and test a prototype vehicle for Hyperloop, a proposed transportation technology involving moving passengers and freight in vacuum tunnels at airline speeds.

With no news of the competitions starting up again, Badgerloop has had to reinvent itself. This year, the club will be competing in the American Solar Challenge, which involves building a solar powered car and driving it across the country, Badgerloop member Jacob Hogan said.

“We kind of wanted to switch and be able to do a competition and still be able to offer the experience that Badgerloop has had in the past,” Hogan said.

Badgerloop will have to design and build a car that will endure a 1,500 to 2,000 mile relay course. Hogan said the competition is similar to Hyperloop, but also brings about new challenges. This year marks the teams first ever participation in the challenge and has a lot to learn.

Hogan, who is a junior majoring in electrical engineering, joined the club to get some hands-on experience on an engineering competition team.

“Competing in a competition organized by SpaceX seemed really cool,” Hogan said.

“We encourage anybody to join the club — all engineering majors, in fact, even non-engineering majors,” Hogan said. “One of our main goals is to basically provide learning opportunities and hands-on experience for anybody.”

The Herald was only able to interview a small fraction of the STEM student organizations on campus. A full list of all student organizations at the fair can be found here.

This article was updated Oct. 6 to reflect a correction. Aadhishre Kasat is the Editor in Chief of the Journal of Undergraduate Science and Technology, not the managing editor.