STEM Day Speaker: ‘No Limit to What You Can Accomplish’

CSULBCOE5 Nearly 200 middle and high school students on Friday got to make slime monsters, Styrofoam gliders, spaghetti marshmallow bridges and balloon rocket cars—as well as hear advice from successful engineers. Dean Forouzan Golshani welcomed students to the College of Engineering’s third annual Engineering@theBeach STEM Day, saying becoming an engineer will let them “contribute in many ways to improving the quality of life.”

Speaking at STEM Day, Robin Thorne, a chemical engineer and CEO of Long Beach-based CTI Environmental Inc., told students that things can seem difficult, but bad situations can be overcome. “I want to share some of the things I’ve learned along the way,” said Thorne, adding that “My path to engineering wasn’t always a bed of roses.” Among the tips Thorne shared: Always encourage someone else and celebrate your success.

Thorne said seeds need soil, sunlight, water, and fertilizer to grow. Thorne said she received soil in the foundation her parents laid. Her father always told her she could go anywhere and do anything. Her mother taught her perseverance and a strong work ethic and told her to get an education, because that’s something no one can take away from you.

Sunlight, she said, came in rays of hope from those who came before her, such as teachers, mentors, role models, and successful engineers. The faith and belief in herself was the water, she said, and the love and understanding of family and friends the fertilizer.

“It’s really important that we surround ourselves with people who care about you,” she told the students. “It’s important to have friends who have your back.”

Thorne has more than 15 years of experience in environmental, health and safety compliance. A member of Long Beach’s Sustainable City Commission, she has also been involved in the Long Beach YMC Community Development Branch board, Soroptimist International of Long Beach, American Society of Safety Engineers, American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and Long Beach Mombasa Sister City Association. Robin holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from Drexel University and is a California state-licensed General Engineering Contractor.

“She is not only very active in her job, but she’s really serving the community,” said COE K-12 Outreach & Recruitment Director Saba Yohannes-Reda, whose department organized the STEM Day event.

Staying on track and focusing on studying, scholarships, and getting into college is important, Thorne said. But even if students get off track, they can recover. “No matter what happens in your life, you can get through it,” she said. “There’s no limit to what you can accomplish.”