Caltrans Testers Test Out New Construction Materials Program

They usually test construction materials. But this week, two dozen Caltrans and industry technicians from throughout the state were at Cal State Long Beach to test out a new program to increase quality and reduce delays on construction projects.

Supported by a $1.3 million interagency agreement with Caltrans, and implemented by CSULB, the Joint Training & Certification Program (JTCP) will deliver training and certification for materials testing technicians in the specialties of Hot-Mix Asphalt, Soils and Aggregates, and Portland Cement Concrete.

Asphalt for testingThis week’s two-day pilot class, a combination of seminar and lab, was intended to iron out any wrinkles before the first classes begin early next year. “I hope you have a great experience,” principal investigator Shadi Saadeh, a CSULB civil engineering associate professor, told the testers. “I really appreciate the time you’ve taken to offer your feedback.”

“Hopefully we’ll have a couple of days of learning and getting our hands dirty in the labs,” said Caltrans JTCP program manager Jeremy Peterson-Self, who was taking detailed notes on improving learning processes for the Caltrans-mandated program.

LASTRADA Partners President Dan Ridolfi led the morning seminars and Dave Aver, quality control associate with the city of Santa Rosa, led the afternoon lab portions.

“I think it’s really important for industry to deliver a high-quality product to California taxpayers,” said Ridolfi. “The Joint Training & Certification Program makes sure quality materials are being used.”

Hot-Mix Asphalt and Soils & Aggregates classes will be offered in early 2018, each accommodating about two dozen testers, said Peterson-Self. Materials testers will be enrolled in the JTCP as their certifications expire.

Given an expected influx of transportation funding coming from the SB1 transportation bill, projects will need trained technicians at the ready to ensure the quality control of materials being used.

Instructor flattens materials.Technicians will earn their certification by taking a prerequisite test in one area of specialization, followed by in-person class, laboratory and written/practical examination sessions.

Caltrans, local agency and contractor personnel attend the same classes, work together and receive equivalent training and certification. This practice ensures consistency and lets individuals and agencies to verify progress and certifications held by other individuals.

Peterson-Self said he expects it will take two or three years for all testers to go through the program, however if a quicker pace is desired, the program is easily scalable.

“There are a lot of states doing this. California is slow to the game, but we’re coming around,” said Ridolfi. “This is a great program. I’m so excited to be part of it.”

For more information, visit http://www.csulb.edu/jtcp.

CSULB Freshman Wins Video Pitch Contest at MESA Conference

CSULB engineering freshman Zoe Smith went to last month’s MESA Conference hoping to learn about leadership and connect with future employers. She didn’t realize she’d end up winning the video-pitch challenge, which came with a $1,000 prize.

Smith was among 14 CSULB students who attended the MESA Student Leadership Conference Oct. 27-28 in downtown Los Angeles. The event connects hand-picked engineering and computer science students with industry professionals to develop the next generation of STEM leaders. Continue reading

attendees at engineering lecture

How Automation Is Changing the World, and the Workforce

At transportation terminals, automation is boosting productivity and creating safer work environments. In the medical device industry, it’s advancing product development and letting employees learn new technologies. And in aerospace, it’s leading to new manufacturing processes and a future age of autonomous aircraft.

At Thursday’s Fall Engineering Distinguished Lecture, representatives from all three industries shared how automation is changing the world—and the workforce.

“This is one of those topics that is very pertinent—automation, robotics, artificial intelligence—all the things we live with today,” said moderator Rolando Saldana, vice president of engineering at Qualcomm. “Going forward, we’re also seeing that industry is moving forward with automation. And these (speakers) are the folks who are putting together the systems.” Continue reading

Female Faculty Share their Stories

They each had a story of how they got here. An early interest in science. The influence of family members or mentors. Even a random selection in an academic catalogue.

But the CSULB female engineering faculty who shared their backgrounds with Society of Women Engineers members all had one thing in common: a passion for research.

Civil engineering Assistant Professor Pitiporn Asvapathanagul’s path included a stint working in her family’s Thai restaurant. She’d earned her undergraduate degree in environmental engineering in Thailand when her family beckoned her to move to the U.S.

Eventually, her desire to return to engineering led her to earn a master’s degree and doctorate from University of California Irvine. At CSULB since 2012, Asvapathanagul is an expert in biological water reclamation. Continue reading

Electrical Engineering Graduate Describes SCE Job as ‘So Much Fun’

When Chandni Mehta left India for New York three years ago, she didn’t speak a word of English. Not only did she have to quickly learn a foreign language but also find a place to live and a way to get to New York University—all on a budget.

She’d been told that NYU fees would be $4,500 per semester, but once she arrived found they’d be more than twice that. Mehta found housing, but the $30 cab ride to NYU was beyond her means.

“In India for that, you could travel to two or three cities and have a nice lunch,” she said. “But I couldn’t go back because my parents sent me here to live my dreams.” Continue reading

Google Offers CECS Students Advice for Surviving a Technical Interview

It’s the subject of numerous books, blog posts, and tutorials: How to get hired at Google. On Thursday, CSULB Computer Engineering & Computer Science students had a chance to get the inside track on how to join a company that’s long been seen as a top workplace for tech talent.

Sponsored by the CSULB Career Center and the CECS Department, the workshop drew about 200 computer science and engineering students who heard from a trio of Googlers about “20 percent time,” social groups and “the Google 15.”

“Google would be an amazing place to work,” said Aimee Threlkeld, a computer engineering senior who is interning with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena and has already applied at Google. With an interest in embedded systems, Threlkeld was hoping that the workshop would help her clear her technical interview in the event she got a callback. Continue reading

CSULB Students Attend Grace Hopper Celebration of Female Technologists

Women are a distinct minority in computer science classes at many universities, including CSULB. That wasn’t the case at the recent Grace Hopper Celebration, where more than 6,000 female technologists gathered for keynotes, workshops, networking, and job interviews.

“There were girls everywhere,” said Victoria Hong, a computer science major and president of the ACM chapter, one of four CSULB students who received scholarships to attend GHC. “When people ask me if it was as good as I thought, I say ‘No, it was way better.’”

Computer science major Alejandra Gonzalez had that same sense of amazement at being surrounded by so many successful women in technology, such as Dr. Fei-Fei Li, Professor and Director of Stanford University’s AI Lab and Chief Scientist at Google Cloud AI/ML, and Melinda Gates, a former Microsoft product developer who is now co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “I couldn’t believe there are that many women interested in technology,” she said. Continue reading

Electrical Engineering Grad Student Wins a Best Paper Award at NAPS

While an undergraduate at UCLA, Edward Sanchez gravitated toward research. His skill recently shone through at the IEEE 2017 North American Power Symposium (NAPS), where he won a Best Paper Award.

The paper, “Model Predictive Energy Scheduling for a Building Microgrid,” details how to design a control system to coordinate the micropower sources and utility grid demand of a proposed building microgrid. The research is part of a $2.5 million California Energy Commission project to turn the Engineering & Computer Science Building into a Smart Building. Continue reading

Paid Internships Available through Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship

If you’re pursuing a career in commercial space exploration, you might want to consider the Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship program.

The highly selective Fellowship will place students at top companies for paid summer internships for 10-12 weeks in 2018 and provide them an executive mentor to help throughout the year.

The program includes a premier lists of companies and mentors committed to the fellowship, including the Aerospace Corp., Accion Systems, Astrans, Blue Origin, Lockheed Martin Ventures, LTA, Millennium Space Systems, Nanoracks, OneWeb Satellites, Planet, Planetary Resources, SpaceX, Stratolaunch Systems, Virgin Orbit, and the XPrize. Continue reading

Dean Golshani Receives NAACP Higher Education Award

Long Beach State College of Engineering Dean Forouzan Golshani will receive the NAACP’s Higher Education Award at the Founder’s Celebration Dinner on Nov. 2. Long Beach State University President Jane Close Conoley was the recipient of the Higher Education Award in 2015.

“I am very honored to be recognized with this distinction,” said Golshani, who has served as the college’s dean since 2007. “I am both personally and professionally dedicated to equality. At Long Beach State, we work hard to ensure that each of our students, who come from diverse backgrounds, has an equitable opportunity to excel in their engineering education.”

Carmen Taylor, Long Beach State Vice President of Student Affairs, is also being recognized, with the Zelma Lipscomb Award. Besides honoring area individuals, the Founder’s Celebration Dinner generates funds for programs supported by the NAACP’s Long Beach branch, including the MESA Schools Program. Continue reading