Engineers take advice from journalists, create website
New website Engineer Insider is based on J-School Buzz.
May. 03, 2011
Students in MU’s College of Engineering started a blog in the style of the J-School Buzz, named Engineer Insider.
The website, founded by juniors Josh Lory and Thomaz DeSouza and senior Zach Fleeman, was launched April 18 and has since received thousands of hits. Engineer Insider focuses on events taking place within the College of Engineering and news that would interest students in that school.
“One of the things we’re really trying to do with the site is bring together the different majors,” Lory said. “As a computer science student, typically I wouldn’t have a lot of interaction with engineers of other majors, so by doing this you learn a lot more about kind of what the other majors are doing.”
The website is modeled after J-School Buzz. JSB founder David Teeghman serves as a consultant for the engineers.
“I care about the content that goes on J-School Buzz," Teeghman said. "Not only am I the editor, but I’m also a J schooler and I want to know what’s going on inside RJI this week or what’s going on with the faculty or the students and the engineers are the same way. They want to know what’s going on in the engineering school.”
Fleeman said Engineer Insider is a great way for students to discuss topics that might be controversial within the school.
“It’s written to be a little bit controversial, (to) stir things up,” he said. “It’s a discussion and that will help.”
The site received its highest level of success when one of its posts was linked on popular link-sharing website reddit.com. The post, which climbed to the top of the page on reddit, was a letter from a professor canceling class because of a video game that had just been released. The founders discovered the email was fake and created a post stating so, which also made it to reddit.
“That was our initial buzz,” Fleeman said. “So far, we’re still riding the very high view count, and it’s going really well. Unbelievably well for a group of engineers who typically don’t know how to write.”
In addition to the reddit success, an article Fleeman wrote on the website was listed as a source on MSNBC.
Fleeman said the website serves as a great way for engineers to break out into the social media world.
“Engineers are very skeptical people,” Fleeman said. “I’m one, I know. I know so many engineers who have a Facebook and don’t even check it or anything, just don’t see the need, so what I’m trying to do is prove the need for this, not necessarily need, but why it would be a beneficial thing for them.”
Lory hopes Engineer Insider will continue to grow in the future. He said he wants to take the success from this year and expand it.
“Looking forward, we’ve got to make sure we’re posting interesting content, we’re posting relevant content, and we’re posting it regularly, enough that people want to come back to the site,” Lory said. “Looking toward the future, we want to get established before the end of the semester. Then, we’ll probably update the site a few times a week over the summer and then hopefully be set to start strong in the fall semester.”
Teeghman said he has seen the engineers take advantage of social media and the website to report on what has been happening in the College of Engineering.
“It’s been very cool to see engineers act like journalists,” he said.