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 the LATTC.
Juan Amezcua, a professor at the academy, visited USC one day early in the spring 2022 semester. On the third floor of the Biegler Hall of Engineering (BHE), he met USC Viterbi School of Engineering laboratory managers Jeffrey Vargas and Rodney Yates. Perhaps by chance, perhaps by kismet – the three began planning an event with the students of Amezcua. Amezcua’s hope was to integrate them more deeply and engage them more practically in STEM education.
As a former LATTC student, Vargas was especially interested in this opportunity. Together, he and Yates reached out to USC Viterbi students in laboratories 341 and 441 of the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, particularly members of the USC Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), to help organize the event. Early College Academy is 90% Hispanic, a demographic that has not been adequately 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 guided tour of BHE 341 and 441, laboratories that support the mechanical workshop. Students also visited the Baum Family Maker Space. “We show them where USC engineering students work on individual projects that 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,” said Yates. .
Back in the BHE 441 lab space, students had the unique opportunity to build their own roller coaster track on which a ping pong ball would travel. Students worked in groups with materials such as straws, rubber bands and tape, and presented their final products at the end of the lab.
The visit also included presentations from SHPE, as well as a larger presentation about USC as a whole – and the resources and clubs available when a student is admitted. Yates and Vargas said they hope to have many more events like this one in the future.
Posted on June 8, 2022
Last updated on June 8, 2022