Esma Gel, associate professor and program chair of the Industrial Engineering Program in the School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering, has started a student book club, Book WormIE. The club is aimed at industrial engineering undergraduate and graduate students, but is open to all students.

Gel got the idea after reading Malcom Gladwell’s Outliers: The Story of Success over the summer. “I found myself thinking, I wish I had known these things about success earlier,” Gel says.

Appropriately enough, the theme of the book club is, “things I wish I had known in high school.” Outliers: The Story of Success will be their first assignment. The club will regroup toward the end of the semester for discussion.

Gladwell’s book uses a highly successful and well known person of “genius” to explain that our notion of similar success being beyond our reach is false. The point of his book is to convince his readers that success is attributed to hard work and taking advantage of opportunities as they arise.

Gel believes that this book and its exploration of how humans think will help students break down the barrier between what we have the capacity to achieve and what we perceive to be our limits.

“My goal is to show that you need to be patient, keep at it and you will be successful,” Gel says.

Gel routinely recommends books to students, but says she rarely receives any feedback. She hopes that an organized club for structured extracurricular reading will benefit students by introducing them to material outside of their usual classroom work and providing personal and professional development. She also expects to learn a great deal through student feedback.

Depending on the success of this pilot program, the club may expand next year to add a collection of books that will recycle every few years as new students come in.

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