New Program Director Takes Helm of Antelope Valley Engineering Program

Access to jobs and internships at top aerospace organizations is one of the CSULB Antelope Valley Engineering Program’s biggest draws for students. So when he took over as the program’s director, one of the first things Dr. Aubrey Priest did was check how those jobs and internships were faring during the pandemic.

“I’m pleased to note that our industry partners have informed us that they still have a tremendous need to hire engineers right now during this pandemic,” said Priest, who joined AVEP in mid-July. “The desire to hire still exists, but students may be placed in remote positions or on-site where they have to wear personal protective equipment.”

In Priest’s view, proximity to the aerospace industry is one of the chief benefits of the program, which offers opportunities for transfer students to earn bachelor’s degrees in electrical engineering or mechanical engineering in 2 ½ years. “Many of the largest global aerospace companies are right here—Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and others,” he said.

On its advisory board are representatives from Edwards Air Force Base, NASA Armstrong Research Center, Raytheon, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman, as well as the City of Lancaster, the Antelope Valley Board of Trade, and the Greater Antelope Valley Economic Alliance.

The program was established as a win-win for aerospace organizations seeking engineering graduates and transfer students trying to finish their engineering degrees in the Antelope Valley, a region without a four-year university.

Proximity to hiring companies isn’t AVEP’s only advantage. “Internally, you have a cohort-style program that requires a 2 ½-year commitment. The program is taught by amazing faculty who are dedicated, knowledgeable and really have a passion for providing an outstanding engineering education to the students,” Priest said.

“It’s an interconnected program community where everyone works together to support student’s efforts to successfully persist through the program and earn an impactful career.”

Currently, three quarters of the cohorts are transfer students from Antelope Valley College.

The decade-old program can accommodate 25 students in each of its two majors. “That allows students to develop a more intimate understanding of the material,” Priest said. “Students get the support they need to be successful.

As is the case throughout the California State University system, classes this fall will take place virtually, except for a small number of hybrid classes.

“We are all living in unprecedented times and educational institutions had to make immediate changes to how courses were to be delivered in the midst of the pandemic. I’m pleased at what the AV faculty and staff were able to accomplish last spring transitioning into an online format. The faculty have all of the resources they need and the natural byproduct of that is students receive a quality education,” He said.

The importance of students receiving a quality education is top of mind. But Priest is also concerned about how students are faring in the pandemic.

“It’s imperative that we ensure that our current students are supported and their basic needs are met in light of COVID-19,” said Priest, whose staff are surveying students to make sure they have access to housing, food, computer equipment and Wi-Fi. “We want to know more about the wellness of our students. If you’re having challenges finding a place to lay your head, focusing on an engineering program would be extremely difficult. We have a number of resources available on our main campus to support our students in need.”

Although the majority of AVEP students are drawn from Antelope Valley College, Priest said there’s tremendous opportunity to expand recruitment to Kern County and colleges in the Los Angeles region. He also sees potential to expand the program to other engineering sectors, such as agriculture, advanced manufacturing, distribution, and fabrication, as well as partnering with other higher ed institutions, foundations, and government entities for the purpose of advancing research opportunities.

“AVEP’s efforts to broaden its regional footprint by fostering community alliances with the focus being research will go a long way to expand resources for faculty and students as well as offer us a seat at the table as we seek to support industry  and government efforts to answer many of the challenging questions they may have, particularly those where innovation is needed to solve them.“ he added.

Priest obtained his Ed.D. Doctor of Education in Interdisciplinary Leadership from Creighton University in 2016. He earned a master’s degree in Forensic Sciences from National University in 2003 and a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Fresno State University in 1999. Prior to joining CSULB, he was an administrator for the Venture Lab with University of California, Merced, which included lead oversight of the program’s manufacturing facility and biotech laboratory.

With more than 16 years’ experience in college admissions, recruitment, and outreach, as well as strategic retention and persistence planning and implementation, Priest was formerly lead marketing professional for a telecommunications company and a former executive with his own company.

He said he was drawn to AVEP because of the opportunity “to work for a university that offers an outstanding education, and more specifically, where the student-focused undergraduate degree program offers the essential tools needed for students to excel in their careers.”


Boeing Holds Interview Sessions for Its BCA-SoCal Student Engineering Program

There was strong interest Wednesday in a Boeing program that gives engineering students a chance to gain up to a year of job experience. The BCA-SoCal Student Engineering Program is open to juniors and seniors who are U.S. citizens, have a GPA of 3.0 or above, and are studying aerospace, civil, electrical, or mechanical engineering.

Dozens of students brought their resumes and dressed for success for a chance to be interviewed for one of 15 positions in Boeing’s Long Beach and Seal Beach facilities. The positions are full-time during summer and 20 hours per week during the school year. Seven hires will work at the Long Beach facility and the remainder in Seal Beach. Continue reading “Boeing Holds Interview Sessions for Its BCA-SoCal Student Engineering Program”

Griffith Co. Offers Opportunities for Civil Engineering and Construction Grads

griffith employeesBuilding a good reputation is important, says Griffith Co. Chairman and CEO Tom Foss. And Foss should know. He started at Griffith as a laborer four decades ago, and rose through the ranks, transitioning to foreman, estimator, chief coordinator, then Orange County vice president and district manager.

Established in 1902, Griffith is a midsized heavy civil construction company that employs about 1,000. “We try to do things that give us a family feel,” said Foss, a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council and a fundraiser for the Beaver’s Endowed Chair in Heavy Civil Engineering. “We want to make employees feel like part of the team.” Continue reading “Griffith Co. Offers Opportunities for Civil Engineering and Construction Grads”

Career Development Center Offers Last-minute Prep for Fall Engineering Job Fair

Attending a job fair requires strategy and preparation. That’s why Jina Flores was on hand Tuesday to help steer engineering students through the process one day ahead of the Fall Engineering & Technology Career Fair in the University Student Union.

“There are huge crowds and lots of employers,” said Flores, lead career counselor at the CSULB Career Development Center. “Practice your pitch. There’s only a very small percentage of students who can wing it.” Continue reading “Career Development Center Offers Last-minute Prep for Fall Engineering Job Fair”

Northrop Grumman Holds Resume Workshop for Post-Military Students

Five veterans attend a resume workshopIf you’ve served in the military, you probably have a long list of accomplishments to include on your resume. But those acronym-rich descriptions can require some translating to make sense to civilian hiring managers.

On Monday, recruiters from Northrop-Grumman were at the CSULB College of Engineering to help veterans present their military experience in a way that  stands out for hiring managers going through stacks of resumes.

“The resume workshop for veterans offered tips on how to translate a military background to a civilian-friendly resume,” said Eddie Jimenez, a Northrop Grumman university relations specialist. “The idea is to help them create better resumes.” Continue reading “Northrop Grumman Holds Resume Workshop for Post-Military Students”

Hundreds of Engineering Students Practice their Interview Skills

Countless online articles can tell you how to create the best impression during a job interview. But as with engineering itself, there’s no substitute for trying out those theories in the real world.

On Friday, the CSULB College of Engineering Office of Professional Development & Internships hosted its annual mock interviews, giving 530 students the opportunity to practice their interview skills with representatives from 48 employers.

Sponsored by Southern California Edison, the event drew many of the region’s top employers, including the Aerospace Corp., Boeing, Disney, Griffith Construction, NAVAIR, Northrop Grumman, and the U.S. Coast Guard.

Ron Roberts, a recruiter with Griffith, said he was impressed with the CSULB engineering students’ enthusiasm. “I love the idea that the college is doing this,” said Roberts, a Cal State Los Angeles graduate. “These students have a hunger to learn.”

For students, the interviews also presented an opportunity to learn more about potential employers. Chemical engineering major Jasper Kelly said he hadn’t realized the diverse opportunities offered by the U.S. Coast Guard. When asked whether he wanted to work for the agency, Kelly said, “Maybe now I will.”

Some students who participated are graduating this semester and ready to hit the job market.

Others have a little time to prepare. Julie Liner prepared for her practice interview with Southern California Edison, where she’d like to work. “Most of the questions were expected. They were behavioral questions,” she said.

Honors student Daniel Lee said he doesn’t worry about the behavioral questions, which attempt to gauge soft skills. As a computer science major, however, he must master the technical interview, which includes algorithms.


G2 Software Systems Interviews for Open Computer Science Positions

San Diego-based G2 Software Systems is often enlisted to fix broken systems or refresh ones that are out of date. The company’s sweet spot is with the defense industry’s large, complex, and sometimes antiquated, systems. G2 was hired to create software that sends alerts throughout all branches of the military, notifies the continent’s defense and aviation organizations to suspicious aircraft, and lets military personnel be trained simultaneously around the globe.

On Wednesday, a group from G2 visited the CSULB College of Engineering to interview graduating computer science seniors for possible jobs or internships. G2’s founder, Georgia Griffiths, is a CSULB alumni and member of the Dean’s Advisory Council.

G2 General Manager Pete Keyes. COE Development Director Nicole Forrest-Boggs, and mathematician Christopher Priebe.
G2 General Manager Pete Keyes. COE Development Director Nicole Forrest-Boggs, and mathematician Christopher Priebe.

“She’s a great supporter of scholarships for the College of Engineering,” said COE Development Director Nicole Forrest-Boggs, whose office organized the event. “We’re very happy to have them here.”

The G2 contingent included general manager Pete Keyes, mathematician Christopher Priebe, and office manager Jessica Rose, a CUSLB alumni.

Priebe, who manages a technology team at G2, said job prospects are bright for computer science majors. “This is a booming industry. It’s a seller’s market. There’s a lot of competition for engineers,” he said. Continue reading “G2 Software Systems Interviews for Open Computer Science Positions”

Professional Development Speaker Series: Working as a Google Engineer

If you want to know the questions that Google interviewers ask, don’t believe the dozens of books and blog posts written on the subject. Because the minute an interview question is found to be published, it’s added to the list of banned questions, says Google software engineer Chris Clark, who was at CSULB Tuesday to talk about what it’s like to be an engineer at Google.

Clark was the top computer science student in his class at UCLA, where he double majored in applied mathematics. He won a Hewlett-Packard scholarship that guaranteed him three internships at the company.

But after completing his first summer internship there, he declined a second one in favor of internships at Xerox and then Microsoft. After his 2008 graduation, Microsoft hired him full-time. Seven years ago, he was recruited by Google.

The search engine giant, said Clark, “is very good at empowering every engineer.” The company’s open environment and support of its employees is legendary, as are its kitchens.

Clark said the micro-kitchens serve a purpose in addition to keeping employees in snacks, refreshments, and meals. “They foster communication with other people. You might go to pick up a water and overhear someone trying to solve a technical problem and end up in a conversation,” he said. Continue reading “Professional Development Speaker Series: Working as a Google Engineer”

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 “Google Offers CECS Students Advice for Surviving a Technical Interview”

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 “Paid Internships Available through Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship”