Infinity and beyond became a reality for 18 engineering students who graduated from the first California State University Long Beach Antelope Valley Engineering Program Dec. 19.
The ceremony and celebration dinner were held at the John P. Eliopulos Hellenic Center in Lancaster.
This is a marvelous testimony to the dedicated hard work of so many people that have worked to improve STEM education in the AV and train “home grown engineers,” said Dr. Leslie Uhazey, Dean of Mathematics, Science and Engineering of Antelope Valley College.
Because of the difficulties experienced in recruiting and retaining young engineers in the Mojave Desert, in 2001 and 2002 Phil Brady and Bob Johnstone, then recently retired engineers from Edwards Air Force Base, started the ball rolling to start a local engineering degree program.
Living in the High Desert was difficult and engineers tended to move on to other opportunities. The premise has been and, I†might add, continues to be, that students raised in the High Desert will be willing to pursue their professional goals in the High Desert, said Uhazy.
The Long Beach Antelope Valley Engineering program is a degree completion program open only to transfer students who have completed their freshman and sophomore work at a community college or at another university.
This program is self-supporting, meaning that we receive no state support. The program exists exclusively based on the generosity of our communities, industries, and government organizations and student fees, explained Kenneth W. Santarelli, EdD, PE Director CSULB Antelope Valley Engineering Program.
The highly structured cohort based program allows skill development in leadership, team work, and communication as well as engineering technical skills. Students have no options within their major and no minors are offered. The program is designed to admit 25 mechanical engineering and 25 electrical†engineering majors each fall. Due to its small size, the two and a half year program is highly personalized and structured so students can elect to obtain work experience in engineering while attending classes.
Engineers from local companies often visited students and shared their personal experiences of working in the aerospace industry. Some students also gave presentations in Washington, D.C., and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Sixteen students worked with aerospace companies while going to school and were offered jobs before graduation, placing them far ahead of people who apply from across the country and around the world to work on cutting edge technology and space tourism.
The Antelope Valley Engineering Program is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Now that we have graduated our first class, we are in the process of seeking ABET accreditation, independent of our main campus, for our Mechanical and Electrical Engineering programs, said Santarelli. This celebration recognizes a major life-changing accomplishment on the part of our students who will become highly productive citizens and leaders in their profession and in our region. It is also a major milestone for the CSULB Antelope Valley Engineering Program.
We could not have done it without the communitys support and sponsorship.