Category Archives: Women in Engineering

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

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

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

Engineering Honors Track Celebrates Arrival of New Students

Each year, the CSULB Engineering Honors Track gets a little larger. The 6-year-old program offers students a fast-track plan toward earning an undergraduate degree completion, complete with a thesis and special events.

This fall, the program includes 124 students, including 38 freshmen. Denil Poudel, one of those freshmen, said he’s excited to be participating in the program. A graduate of the California Academy of Math and Science, and the grandson of an industrial engineer, Poudel said he’s always been drawn to engineering. He built things with Legos when he was young, then moved on to autonomous robots. Continue reading

CSULB Computer Engineering & Computer Science Department Joins Diversity Initiative

BRAIDCSULB Computer Engineering and Computer Science Chair Burkhard Englert will participate this summer in an initiative to increase the percentage of women and students of color majoring in computer science.

The Building, Recruiting and Inclusion for Diversity (BRAID) initiative was launched three years ago. It is led by the Anita Borg Institute and Harvey Mudd College, in partnership with more than a dozen universities across the nation and the National Center for Women & Information Technology. BRAID is funded by Facebook, Google, Intel, Microsoft, the Computing Research Association, and the National Science Foundation. Continue reading

Creating More Inclusive Classrooms

woman-cs-500pAt Claremont’s STEM-focused Harvey Mudd College, nearly half of the 800 students are women. The percentage holds for computer science. But it wasn’t always that way. Back in 2004, only about one-tenth of computer science students were women.

Harvey Mudd Assistant Professor Colleen Lewis was at CSULB Monday to share tips on how to create inclusive classrooms where students with a broad array of characteristics feel comfortable. “As an educator, I want to understand and optimize learning,” she said.

The No. 1 tip Lewis shared: Highlight the breadth of the field so students will come across something that interests them and see a place for themselves. For example, in intro computer science classes, faculty might use a Fractal Fruit Tree or Smiley Face Recognition System to increase student engagement.   Continue reading

Virgin Galactic Director Mandy Vaughn Speaks at CSULB SWE Event

Mandy Vaughn, Senior Director of Business Development and Mission Management at Virgin Galactic, told the girls at Friday’s Women Engineers @ the Beach event that it’s important to ask questions.

“Don’t be afraid to ask a question if you’re the only girl in the class,” said Vaughn, the keynote speaker. “If you’re the only girl in the class, they’re going to remember you whether you like it or not.” Continue reading

WOMEN IN STEM SHARE CAREER ADVICE

Women in StemThe Women in STEM Career Panel Tuesday drew dozens of female CSULB students to hear successful professionals share their experiences and advice. The panel, organized by STEM x: Sisters in Motion and the CSULB President’s Commission on the Status of Women, is the first in a hoped-for series.

“Women are underrepresented (in STEM) most of the time and it creates some difficulties and challenges,” said Melissa Norrbom, CSULB Student Life and Development Coordinator, adding that the series’ goal is “creating a network of women on campus to make women feel comfortable and figure out how to support them.” Continue reading

Panel to Explore Women in STEM

Five CSULB alumni will share their experiences about being women working in STEM fields at Tuesday’s Women in STEM Career Panel.

The alumni include:

  • Sandra Labib (Civil Engineering), a project manager at The Walt Disney Co.
  • Jessica Avila (Civil Engineering) a design engineer at Hunsaker & Associates
  • Nancy Imbery (Chemical Engineering) Tesoro
  • Geraldine Aron (Geology), CEO at Paleo Solutions
  • Suzzane Pluskat (Biology), a veterinarian with her own private practice.

Continue reading