Dr. Kenneth “Ken” Santarelli is the director of the Antelope Valley Engineering Program for California State University, Long Beach.
Santarelli, accompanied by the program’s “most improved student,” Stefan Bautista, was featured on the July 19 Aerotech NewsRadio. Bautista is an Electrical Engineering major expected to graduate in 2013.
“The local industry … here desires to have [an engineering] program here … we have what we call a home-grown initiative,” said Santarelli.
He added that the concept was discussed by the Antelope Valley Board of Trade and it was Bob Johnstone that put together the initiative. Now, future engineers have the ability to complete their engineering degree without leaving the Antelope Valley. Classes are held at the Lancaster University Center in Lancaster, Calif.
According to Santarelli, the program is unique in that it is degree-completion only. CSULB has formed partnerships with the Antelope Valley College and Cerro Coso Community College because the program is for transfer students. Along those same lines, Santarelli said that it is cohort-based, meaning that all of students will move through the program as a group.
The students are divided into either mechanical or electrical engineering groups and the current goal is to have 25 of each enrolled annually. Santarelli commented that students considering this program “need to believe that they want to be an engineer” and identify a major fairly early because there is a “great deal of preparation at the lower-level.”
“It’s like going to a private school without paying private school prices,” said Bautista. He added that “it was a process” to find his “calling” academically. Bautista works full time and has two young children. The engineering program allows Bautista to pursue his engineering career without trading all of his family time for commuting to school.
“I’m very happy with my decision,” said Bautista. He added that the students have formed a very close-knit group that offers support and aids in the educational process. Bautista will be among the first to graduate from the program in December of 2013.
To hear the rest of Bautista’s story and Santarelli’s involvement in the engineering program, listen to the show here. For more information about enrollment in the program visit www.ccpe.csulb.edu/Engineering.
Aerotech NewsRadio is a weekly program broadcasting live on KOSS 1380 AM. Tune in at 11 a.m., Thursdays to hear the show live.