Rodolfo Amezcua didn’t set out to major in engineering. It became an obvious option, however, when he realized he was good at math and not at all interested in writing.
He also didn’t expect to pursue a PhD right after undergraduate studies. But now the mechanical engineering major will begin graduate studies in control systems at University of Southern California in the fall. USC will fully fund his first two years of study, and a Ford Graduate Fellowship fill fund three more years of study.
One other thing Amezcua didn’t expect: to be named the College of Engineering’s 2017 Outstanding Graduate. Amezcua attended a ceremony for the award at the Hyatt Regency last week, with his aunt and his mentor, Dr. David Stout.
“It felt weird,” the former Harbor High School student said of receiving the award.
As an undergraduate, Amezcua has already accomplished more than many graduate students. He spent the last two summers at Brown and Purdue University where he examined neuron image segmentation and strain mapping, as well as worked on modeling substrate-cytoskeletal dynamics in cellular durotaxis.
He also has an article published in the journal Nanomaterials, and has received five travel grants to present his research. At CSULB, Amezcua was in the Engineering Honors Track and a member of the Tau Bet Pi Engineering Honor Society. He’s also a three-time recipient of the Boeing Engineering Award.
Amezcua credits Stout for helping connect him with opportunities and the years working in Stout’s research lab for helping expose him to new things. He said graduate studies were more interesting than finding a full-time job. “I’d rather keep learning,” he said.
Outstanding Graduates are chosen by their respective colleges. This year’s seven recipients have distinguished themselves academically and have demonstrated service and dedication in national, local and campus organizations.