College of Engineering 2019 Outstanding Graduate Got Start in BESST and BUILD

Jairo ContrerasMechanical engineering senior Jairo Maldonado-Contreras has been named the CSULB College of Engineering’s 2019 Outstanding Graduate. A member of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, he has held internships at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Northwestern University.

After graduation from CSULB, he will pursue a PhD in robotics at GeorgiaTech, studying human-intent recognition algorithms used to control prostheses and exoskeletons under advisor Dr. Aaron Young.

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BESST Graduate Prepares for Doctorate

Jairo Maldonado-Contreras

Attending high school on California’s Central Coast, Jairo Maldonado-Contreras got good grades, but didn’t plan to attend college. He sent out a few applications because his friends did, and was surprised when he was accepted at Long Beach State University.

Contreras chose to study engineering because he liked math. He also hoped to provide a better life for his mother, Rosa, who supports the family by picking strawberries. “When I got my acceptance, she was happy for me but also brokenhearted that I was moving three hours away,” he said. “We were always accustomed to looking after each other.”

Luckily for Contreras, he arrived at Long Beach State as the College of Engineering was establishing the Beach Engineering Student Success Team (BESST), a support program for incoming freshmen, particularly those from diverse backgrounds and with greatest need. Students attend a summer camp before the semester starts, go to classes and social activities as a group, and receive individual and group tutoring and mentoring. Continue reading “BESST Graduate Prepares for Doctorate”

Professional Engineers Share College and Career Experiences with BESST Students

As an engineering undergrad in the 1960s, Jeff Clements was told by one professor that he wasn’t “college material.” But that didn’t stop Clements from earning his bachelor’s degree in 1962—then his master’s and doctorate—and go on to help produce space hardware for top aerospace companies such as Hughes, TRW, and Raytheon.

Clements, the first African-American CSULB student to earn a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, was one of two speakers to share experiences Monday with incoming students of the Beach Engineering Student Success Team (BESST), which features intensive tutoring and cohort-based classes. Continue reading “Professional Engineers Share College and Career Experiences with BESST Students”