Sticking with STEM Means Limitless Possibilities for Future Careers

Panelists at the Science Extravaganza all had the same message for middle-school students: stick with STEM for a career with limitless opportunities.

Hosted by the CSULB chapter of MAES, the second annual event drew nearly 300 students from Perry Lindsey, Stephens, and Franklin Classical middle schools, as well as volunteers from The Aerospace Corp., Boeing, and other companies and student organizations.

“We need to help schools that serve underrepresented groups, and have limited funding and limited STEM,” said Anthony Ramirez, MAES CSULB Chapter Co-President and a CSULB aerospace engineering major.

The Aerospace Corp. sent a large contingent of employees to lead workshops, serve on panels, and usher students between events. James Liau, a systems director at the Aerospace Corp., said he didn’t even know what engineering was back when he was in middle school. Since then, he’s learned that “engineering and science is actually everywhere.”

At the Aerospace Corp., where he’s worked for two decades, Liau helps the Air Force launch satellites into space. “Think about what you can achieve. It’s not too early to begin thinking about it,” he said.

Sergio Vazquez warned students that by the time they get to college, many of today’s jobs will already be gone. But although manufacturing jobs will have disappeared, engineering jobs will remain.

“You guys need to get smart; you need to get focused,” said Vazquez, who holds CSULB bachelor’s degrees in electrical engineering and audio engineering, as well as a master’s of science in electrical engineering. “Pay attention in school, and don’t get left behind.”

CSULB civil engineering alumni Sandra Labib worked as a project manager at Disney for five years before recently moving to Southern California Edison. “The important thing to take away from this awesome event is that an engineering degree has endless opportunities,” she said. “With an engineering degree, you can do just about anything.”

Engineering Dean Forouzan Golshani echoed that, adding that the field is in need of women and members of other underrepresented groups. “Engineering is a great field,” he said. “Make sure you learn what science, math, and engineering can do for you.”