California State University, Long Beach
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BP Scholarship Fund Helps CSULB Develop Engineers for Workforce

Published: January 30, 2009

BP Check
Photo by David J. Nelson
At the BP check presentation were (l-r) Paul Nguyen, Harold Williams, CSULB President F. King Alexander, Doug Harris and Forouzan Golshani.

Continuing its nearly two decades of support for CSULB, BP America, Inc. recently donated $56,250 to the College of Engineering to create the BP Scholarship Fund for undergraduate scholarships that will strengthen the pool of highly-trained student engineers entering the local workforce.

The BP Scholarship Fund will be used to provide five $2,250 scholarships a year for five years beginning in fall 2009. The scholarships will be awarded to qualified applicants who are full-time undergraduates, who have a minimum GPA of 3.0, who are residents of Long Beach, Carson or Wilmington, and who are majoring in chemical, mechanical or electrical engineering.

CSULB President F. King Alexander believes the BP scholarship will further strengthen the relationship between BP and the College of Engineering. Working with such corporations as BP, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and Boeing, Alexander learned firsthand the frustration these companies face employing students from renowned engineering universities from other states only to have them move back home after receiving state-of-the-art training on the West Coast.

“One thing about our students is that they want to stay to help build our industry right here in Long Beach and Southern California. Many of our most important local employers, such as BP, have already discovered how prepared and productive our engineering graduates are,” said Alexander. “The demand for good engineers is growing and I’m pleased to say that Cal State Long Beach graduates approximately 500 engineers a year, which is significantly more than many research universities in the United States that monopolize engineering in their states. With BP’s help in our laboratories and with internships and scholarship assistance, we are committed to keeping these numbers growing while graduating the kinds of students that will enrich BP, other local industries, and our community.”

CSULB alumnus Craig Smith (class of 1985), a lead process engineer at BP in Carson, first interned then began his career at the refinery (then called ARCO before being bought out by BP) one month after graduating with his engineering degree. BP retained the recognizable ARCO name only for its gas stations that feature the popular AM/PM mini-marts.

“One of the many reasons BP is a leader in supporting engineering in higher education is because that is where we get our people,” said Smith. “We have been a supporter of the great engineering program at Cal State Long Beach for many years and I’m happy that will continue. We are here every year interviewing to find new chemical engineers, as well as mechanical and electrical engineers.”

Over the years, BP has employed approximately 133 interns and graduates from the campus. BP also provides funds for engineering lab equipment and sponsors courses at the university.

BP Vice President and General Manager Doug Harris has also witnessed firsthand the quality, ambition and willingness to stay for the long term at the company from the students they hire from CSULB.

“I just met with a Cal State Long Beach alum who is our technology person for our operations in Russia. So, besides working at our Carson plant, CSULB students working for BP are employed around the world,” Harris said. “The university really stands out in engineering and I think it is one of the better campuses around— and we’ve had a lot of success in hiring CSULB students. To be competitive in the long term, it is important for us to continually bring in new students who may be developed into industry-leading engineers and business managers at our company.”

“This gift is a big step in enabling us to achieve the goals and objectives we have set out in respect to student recruitment. With these funds donated by BP, we will go after the very best student applicants,” said Forouzan Golshani, dean of the College of Engineering at CSULB. “We will make sure the BP Scholarship Fund will be used in the best possible way to ensure student success and achievement. We also realize that BP, just like many other companies, are at a stage where many in their employment will be retiring. Donations like this will enable us to prepare a new crop of engineers who will be able to immediately take the place of those leaving the workforce.”