Just two miles from USC’s University Park campus is Los Angeles Trade Technical College, a community college that works with students interested in anything from a career in accounting to one in fashion, nursing or physics. On the same campus are high school students who are part of the Early College Academy, a partnership with LATTC.
Juan Amezcua, a teacher at the academy, visited USC one day, early in the start of the Spring 2022 semester. On the third floor of the Biegler Hall of Engineering (BHE), he found USC Viterbi School of Engineering Laboratory Managers Jeffrey Vargas and Rodney Yates. Perhaps by chance, perhaps by kismet – they three of them went on to plan an event with Amezcua’s students. Amezcua’s hope was to integrate them more deeply and engage them more practically with STEM education.
As an alumnus of LATTC, Vargas was especially interested in this opportunity. Together, he and Yates reached out to USC Viterbi students in the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering’s 341 and 441 labs, particularly members of Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) at USC, to help organize the event. Early College Academy is 90% Hispanic, a demographic that has not adequately been represented in STEM fields. While about 17 % of the national population is Hispanic, only eight percent of these individuals are represented in the STEM workforce.
SHPE-USC members and USC Viterbi students Edgar Sanchez, Angela Jarquin and Jessica Vela Guevara helped plan the lab visit. Yates and Vargas gave the students a tour of BHE 341 and 441, labs supporting the machine shop. The students also visited the Baum Family Maker Space. “We showed them where USC engineering students work on individual projects they design and build, or join a team like USC Racing or the Human Power Vehicle team to design and work in a collaborative environment,” Yates said.
Back in the BHE 441 lab space, students were given the unique opportunity to build their own rollercoaster track that a ping pong ball would travel on. Students worked in groups with materials including straws, rubber bands and tape, and presented their final products at the end of lab time.
The visit also included presentations from SHPE, as well as a larger presentation on USC as a whole – and the resources and clubs available once a student is admitted. Yates and Vargas said they hope to have many more events like this in the future.
Published on June 8th, 2022
Last updated on June 8th, 2022