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Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture Student Clubs: Priceless

The Cost of Student Clubs Business

By Melisa Virnig, Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture Student Intern

Registration fee for a national conference: $300. Material expenses to build a prototype: $600. Time costs in the shop: $400. Experiences and education from participation in a club: priceless.

Student clubs expand and enhance the real world experience and application that is crucial for students to be industry-ready after graduation, but unfortunately these experiences within the clubs aren’t free.

Club funding is what gives students the extra opportunities to grow and learn, and clubs are working hard to find and raise the money they need.

How much money do clubs need?

Student clubs have a variety of costs for their projects, ranging from the cost of materials to money to attend important conferences and competitions.

In the ASME, funding is crucial, especially for the annual ASME Student Professional Development Conference, said Rhyan Russell, president of ASME. One of the main annual expenses is the RC Baha Car the club designs and builds.

“It gets pretty expensive making the designs we compete with and having to get to the competition,” Russell said. “There are manufacturing and material costs, time expenses in the shop, hotel and travel expenses, and the registration fees.”

In the Society of Automotive Engineers, the biggest cost is for the formula-style race car that the club builds each year for competition – which can cost as much as $25,000, said SAE officer Jared Rixon.

“We couldn’t do anything without the funding we receive,” he said. “We wouldn’t have a club because we couldn’t purchase any of the material.”

Another student group, the WSU’s Linux Users Group (LUG), primarily functions as a support group for free and open source software.

“We host a variety of student groups on our server here at WSU, and one of our main goals at the moment is to replace this aging server with something more reliable,” LUG President Eric Ball said.

LUG also uses its funding for their annual gaming convention, WSUCon.

The student chapter of the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS), meanwhile, has several events throughout the year. One of its largest and most influential is its Freedom by Design program, an AIAS national program that improves home design of low-income and disabled individuals by addressing their struggles with everyday tasks.

“We design real world solutions that we actually go out and build so people can live a better life through our design solutions,” AIAS President Jason Wong said.

The club also participates in the national AIAS convention called Forum.

“Attending Forum completely changed my view on my profession and instilled a confidence in me,” he said. “These conventions have the power to inspire someone. We want to enable our members with the opportunity to attend.”

Where does the money come from?

Support for Voiland College clubs comes from everything from t-shirt sales to simple checks that arrive in the mail.

In ASME, students sell ASME and WSU Engineering shirts and sweatshirts. They also receive some money from the college and send out letters to alumni asking for donations.

Next year, the club plans to start a new fundraiser that will also promote membership by charging $10 to rent out a locker in the ASME lounge to non-members.

SAE, meanwhile, receives generous support from the DeVlieg Foundation and from a number of alumni donors.

“We’ve gotten money from the department in the past, but there isn’t much there anymore,” Rixon said. “We’re mostly dependent on fundraising and keeping relations with our donors.”

The Linux Users group, on the other hand, received a donation from the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, along with some funding from ASWSU for WSUCon.

“We source the rest of our income from a couple of places, usually in small amounts from each,” Ball said. “Since donating to us is tax-deductible, there is a large source of funding from alumni.”

AIAS receives funding for their Freedom by Design program primarily through donations, and last year the club held an auction and dance which raised an additional $600, Wong said.

Your Gift Makes A Difference

Rixon said the funding that keeps their club going is incredibly important because of the opportunities the club provides to its members.

“Formula SAE allows us a creative outlet to apply our engineering education that isn’t offered in the curriculum,” he said.

AIAS Advisor Philip Gruen, associate professor of architecture and construction management, said experiencing programs and conventions like this outside of the classroom is incomparable to what a student can learn at a desk, and it couldn’t be possible without funding.

Support Student Clubs

WSU's American Institute of Architecture Students working on the Freedom by Design project

WSU’s American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) working on the Freedom by Design project

Students line up to enjoy an AIAS Barbecue