(STEM)2 Holds 7th Annual Fall Research Symposium

Science, Engineering, and Math Dean Richard Fee opened the Cypress College (STEM)2 program’s seventh annual Fall Research Symposium on Friday, November 16, at the Old Ranch Country Club in Seal Beach. Through personal stories, he emphasized how important it is to do something that makes you happy.

“If you start on a path, you don’t have to stay on that path if you don’t like the scenery. You are not stuck.”

Fee noted that one of his fears throughout his educational and career process was rejection.

“It wasn’t until I learned to hear ‘No’ and not take it personal… ‘No’ always hurts, but you keep going.”

The STEM scholars had to put aside their fear of hearing the word ‘No’ to apply for summer research projects, which were showcased at the event.

Student Summer Research Showcases

Forty-five students in the (STEM)2 program conducted undergraduate research over the summer. Seven of them — Surbhi Arora, Brendon Barrios, Evan Camarillo, Diana Costescu, Milagros Crisp, Selina Jaimes Davila, and Tareq Labeeb — served as panelists at the event, sharing what they experienced and encouraging other members of the program to apply for similar opportunities.

Brendon Barrios, Electrical Engineering, Summer Research at California State University Fullerton

Brendon’s first attempt at applying to a summer research program resulted in rejection.

“The first time that I applied for summer research, I didn’t get accepted, and I even waited a year to apply to Cal State Fullerton URE, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t make it the first time because that’s normal and a lot of the times they want to see you with more of a track record.”

Even though he heard the word ‘No,’ it didn’t stop him from seeking out opportunities. This past summer he was able to secure one such opportunity.

“I learned a lot. I did summer research that was very applicable to a lot of different technical and electrical — even medical — fields, which is really awesome. My project manager pushed me to apply to IEEE over at Cal Poly Pomona.”

Milagros Crisp, Mathematics, Summer Research at UCI

Research projects lead to a great additions to resumes and to fantastic experiences.

“One of the best highlights of our research was that I got to see embryos develop outside of the womb,” Crisp said of her research project.

Evan Camarillo, Biology, STARS Program at UC San Diego

Evan agreed with Dean Fee when it came to fear of rejection.

“I feel like this summer’s research experience has opened up a lot of opportunities for myself. I think one of the biggest barriers of applying to these types of programs is just having the confidence in yourself, knowing that you have the ability to do that. All the skills that I think I developed qualify me for going to another university on the east coast — pretty much anywhere in the U.S. I feel like I’m able to apply and go through another program somewhere else, somewhere far away from home, somewhere where things might be a little tougher so I can challenge myself a little bit more and ultimately develop some more skills,” he said.

That fear of rejection didn’t stop him, and some of the best highlights of his experience “were to meet other like-minded students. Meeting people that want to go in the same direction as you, people that are goal-oriented, people that overall have the same interests as you really benefited me in the sense that I was able to get their perspective on things and I was able to learn a lot of things… Some advice I would have for STEM scholars: if you don’t feel very confident, just put your future in perspective. I feel like during summer you’re probably going to be working. You might be taking summer classes and even when you’re at one of these research opportunities, I feel as though you’re able to do some online classes on the side of the research that you’re doing and I just think that if you want some change in your life, if you want to develop knowledge in a field that is interesting to you, the opportunity will be 100 percent worth it.”

Grace Lewis, Aerospace Engineering, Summer Research at Cal Poly Pomona for the UAV Lab

“The main highlights were definitely staying until 9 or 10 at night just to get code working and the getting up at 6:30 to do flight testing to make sure all of that was working and just cheering when all of it worked,” Lewis said.

And if the experience itself weren’t enough, Lewis also got a job at a flight simulation center immediately after her summer research.

“[The opportunity] was directly from research. It was learning everything I could about planes, everything I could about coding, simulation — all of that — and it led to a real job. That’s really amazing. I also ended up becoming friends with my team lead and she brought me out flying so I’m getting my private pilot’s license soon and UAV license and it’s going to be so cool. I’m so excited.”

Keynote Speaker Mandla Kayise

Mandla Kayise, founder and CEO of New World Education (NWE), carried himself with grace and spoke with STEM scholars about their projects before being introduced to take the stage.

“Look at yourself as the subject of your work. Ask: ‘What can I do with the subject matter?’”

Kayise shared with the college students that he was dismissed on academic probation from UCLA after three years. The engineering major eventually returned to the university four years later. His academic career prior to dismissal might not be described as organized or disciplined.

Like Kayise’s field, he told the students that they are in the fields that require the most organization and discipline, and he asked for a show of hands of who described themselves that way. Very few hands went up.

“For me,” Kayise said, “doing more made me get more organized — not doing less.”

Many STEM scholars were seen nodding their heads in agreement and appeared to be listening intently as Kayise spoke.

“When you start Cypress College, create a picture of how you want to look by the time you’re done. Think about the attitudes that go along with that image. We will always be successful if we know who we are, and we can start from there… You are what you bring to the table, and Cypress College, and what it has — that’s how you’re going to be successful.”

Headed for the Stars: STEM Students are NASA Aerospace Scholars

STEM scholar Pi Raymond Oliver spent part of this month at NASA’s Stenis Space Center in Mississippi, where he completed the space agency’s NCAS Program. Oliver was at Stenis October 1-5 as one of 319 community college students from across the United States.

NCAS — NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars — incorporates a five-week online activity that culminates with a four-day on-site event at a NASA center. The program offers students the opportunity to interact with NASA engineers and others as they learn more about careers in science and engineering.

While at NASA’s Stenis Center, Oliver and the other students formed teams and established fictional companies interested in Mars exploration. Each team was responsible for developing and testing a prototype rover, forming a company infrastructure, managing a budget, and developing communications and outreach. The on-site experience at NASA included briefings by NASA subject-matter experts, information on how to apply for internships, and a tour of NASA’s unique facilities.

“[T]his is the most amazing opportunity I have ever embarked on. Hands down,” Oliver wrote in an email sent from Stenis on his first day there. “I am networking with the staff here already — and I am sure that I can promote this opportunity towards other Cypress students.”

Oliver participated as part of his enrollment in Cypress College’s (STEM)2 Program.

At an on-campus (STEM)2 presentation this month, student Dustin Nguyen spoke to 85 classmates about the program. Nguyen has completed two consecutive internships at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

Three other current students also completed the program in recent semesters: Asma Karakra, Grace Lewis, and Michael Quezada.

The NASA program is partially funded by the Minority University Research and Education Program, or MUREP, which is committed to engaging underrepresented and underserved students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in authentic learning experiences to sustain a diverse workforce.

“NCAS not only inspires community college students to advance in STEM fields, but it also opens doors for future careers at NASA,” said Joeletta Patrick, Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) Manager. “NCAS has a legacy of alumni moving from NASA internships to and ultimately entering the NASA workforce.”

More information is available from (STEM)2 Program Director Yanet Garcia at yagarcia@cypresscollege.edu. Interested students can also visit ncas.aerospacescholars.org/ and nasa.gov/education/murep.

(STEM)2 Fall Research Symposium Showcases Student Research, Astrophysicist

Cypress College’s (STEM)2 program hosted its sixth annual Fall Research Symposium on Friday, November 17. The event, which was held at the Old Ranch Country Club in Seal Beach, featured a student summer research showcase and guest speaker Dr. Farisa Morales, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

Farisa Morales, Ph.D., Astrophysicist, CSUN/Moorpark College Professor

A professor at UCLA asked his physics class if anyone was interested in applying for a summer internship at JPL. Then-student-turned Jet Propulsion Laboratory astrophysicist Farisa Morales raised her hand. “What is JPL,” she asked.

Her question answered, the math major thought the physics internship sounded interesting, and applied. Once hired, she worked on the Rover mission and was later offered a part-time job checking coordinates. The experience led her to change her major to astrophysics, and she ended up receiving a masters in physics and then a Ph.D. Her experiences – and the professors and employers along the way – shaped her path to becoming a full-time employee working on robotics space exploration at JPL and a professor at California State University, Northridge and Moorpark College.

“You don’t do this by yourself,” she told the (STEM)2 students. “There’s always people around you helping you along the way.”

Morales advised of the importance of having more than one mentor and of not giving up. The hardest moment in her academic career, she said, was when she failed her Ph.D. candidacy attempt. Though devastated that she had invested so much, she decided to study what she failed and take the exam again. As it turned out, none of what she studied was on the exam the second time around, but she was triumphant.

Morales said she enjoyed every step of her education from community college through USC and advised the (STEM)2 students to do the same.

Student Summer Research Showcases

Eight (STEM)2 students enthusiastically spoke on a panel at the symposium during which they discussed their research experiences. They all clearly enjoyed their education and experiences, and were pleased to share their knowledge with fellow STEM students. Here are some highlights.

Luis Ramirez, Mechanical Engineering

Ramirez conducted his summer research at University of California, San Diego as part of the university’s Summer Training Academy for Research Success (STARS). Under the supervision of Professor Michael T. Tolley, Ramirez worked in the Bioinspired Robotics and Design Lab, where he was “involved in creating a soft robotic fish.

“I was specifically responsible for using computer-aided design programs to design semi-rigid, flexible, 3D-printed spinal columns that we would attach artificial muscles to in order to replicate natural movements in specific marine life,” he said.

Of the experience, Ramirez added that he became “a more rounded student who knows exactly what field of engineering I want to apply myself to. Additionally, I now have a stronger resume that makes me a more competitive applicant for future research opportunities in well-renowned universities as well as internships in the field of industry.”

Brooke Blandino, Environmental Science

Blandino studied fertility rates of the parasitoid Tamarixia radiata and the potential biological significance in reducing Huanglongbing (greening citrus disease) at Cal Poly Pomona. For her, the summer research opportunity “created connections with staff at Cal Poly Pomona, enhanced my experience in the entomology/environmental science field as an undergraduate student, and motivated me to continue my education with an environmental science major.”

She added, “This created a positive impact because I am now applying to research experiences for this coming summer and will be transferring with completed research experience.”

Bryan Igboke, Civil Engineering

Like Ramirez, Igboke was also part of the STARS program. Igboke’s research involved identifying the components aiding in the bioluminescence of organisms — such as jellyfish, bacteria, and fungi — that are used in a wide set of practical applications today, from biomarkers to bioluminescent imaging to locate tumors.

Igboke admitted that being offered a summer research program that was not related to his major was a “little bit of a shock.” He assumed he would get engineering. When he learned he got biology, he was at first “salty”; however, after going through the program, he says it was worth the time and he would do it again.

Dei Gomez, Applied Mathematics

At California State University, Fullerton, Gomez “examined the Van der Pol (VDP) equation and its applications to biological oscillations.

“We used the VDP equation to model the left and right ventricle action potential duration (APD) and the action recovery intervals (ARI) of the heart from previously published experimental findings,” she said. “The computational analysis was accomplished by examining both the linear and nonlinear cases of the VDP equation. Analyzing the linear case allowed us to predict the behavior of the solutions based off different initial conditions and parameters. The nonlinear analysis was used to fit more realistic changes in the dynamics of the APD oscillation amplitude. We found that the APD and ARI ventricular oscillations were approximately modeled with the VDP equation.”

Ricky Kim, Computer Science

Kim went to Cal Poly Pomona for his summer research. It was there that he studied facial privacy and the function of blurring upon face recognition from smartphones using IoT technology such as Hexiware.

For Kim, taking on this research was scary. He was worried that others would see he didn’t know what he was doing, he said during the panel session. However, he enjoyed the experience and wishes it had been longer.

Aliyah Clayton, Computer Science

Clayton, who was also part of the STARS program, worked on a project there called Gut Instinct: Discovering Scientists for Accelerating Microbiome Research. The research looked at the role of microbial communities in our bodies and how they influence our health. Similarly to Igboke, Clayton’s research program was not directly related to her major.

“Although I’m a computer science major, my internship consisted of me making tutorial videos to improve public engagement with scientific websites… Besides making three different tutorial videos for Gut Instinct, I also had the opportunity to design my personal webpage, learned how to construct a scientific abstract, and received insight on how graduate school is like at UC San Diego.”

Clayton added that the experience was not without its challenges.

“The most challenging aspect I faced during my time there was figuring out exactly how to create these videos and design my webpage without guidance. Even though I was assigned to Professor Scott Klemmer as my PI, I worked every day with third-year Ph.D. student Vineet Pandey. Vineet provided guidance only when I asked, leaving me to explore whatever pathway I wanted to attain the desired product, which proved to be a refreshing challenge.”

Despite the challenges, Clayton felt that “this was an amazing first summer internship experience.”

She continued, “The thing I am most appreciative of is how this opportunity broadened my perspective. I have been so tunnel-visioned on the classes I need to take at Cypress and which UC campuses I want to apply to that I never thought about graduate school and never bothered being very social, making a change at Cypress’s campus and other opportunities around me. This internship made me realize just how big the world is. I met people I never thought I would meet from places I never recognized, such as a woman from Howard University, another from William and Mary College, and a gentleman from Rwanda, Africa. In all, the people and the relationships I established with those people are what made the internship experience worthwhile.”

The (STEM)2 program at Cypress College provides numerous opportunities to students interested in and committed to studying in the STEM fields. The program has grown to more than 300 students under the direction of Program Director Yanet Garcia. For more information, please visit the (STEM)2 website.

STEM Hosts ‘A Day with the NSA’

As young adults we often think we have to have all the answers, know what career we want and what paths we need to take to get there. The truth is we don’t always know. And that’s OK.

The Path that Led to the NSA

Víctor H. Maysonet González was born and raised in Puerto Rico. He didn’t grow up knowing he would one day work for the National Security Agency (NSA). He didn’t even know the NSA existed, he told a room full of STEM scholars at Cypress College on May 5. However, the paths he took led him there.

The son of divorced parents (his mother a teacher and father a dancer and musician), Maysonet González was exposed to different ways of thinking. His mother pushed him to succeed, impressing upon him the value of doing hard work and getting A’s in school. His father incorporated a strong sense of creativity into his life, even teaching a young Maysonet González how to dance.
Maysonet González’s background includes a degree in public communication with an emphasis on PR and advertising, and he worked at a hair salon, for Club Med, and for 20+ years as a dancer and choreographer. He was led to the NSA by his then-girlfriend – now wife – who had gotten a job with the Agency. He stressed that the choices you make have impact and to “be intentional with every step that you take.”

To read his resume, one might not automatically see how the steps he took prepared him for an NSA career. However, his education taught him strategy and safe-guarding an image. His job at the hair salon showed him how appearance affects lives. At Club Med he learned the value of diversity. And dance? Dance taught him “it’s OK to take a step back, but make it a rock step so you can go forward with more momentum.”

(STEM)2 student Kayla Calle took Maysonet González’s story to heart, saying, “The most important thing that I learned in the workshop was that no matter where you came from or what background you have, you can always use the skills you have to go out and thrive in whatever you want to do.”

Fellow (STEM)2 student Kevin Fune added that he learned from listening to Maysonet González that it is important “to be intentional with your actions, because it will always impact someone’s life. Be proud of where you came from to learn where you want to go, and surround yourself with cheerful people who will help you be successful.”

The National Security Agency/Central Security Service

Victor Maysonet Gonzalez spoke of what the NSA does. Photo courtesy of Romel Baniago

Victor Maysonet Gonzalez spoke of what the NSA does. Photo courtesy of Romel Baniago

The NSA/CSS saves lives, defends vital networks, advances U.S. goals and alliances, and protects privacy rights. Established in 1952, the NSA is a service organization that receives requirements, and operates and executes on those requirements using cryptologic components. Through the use of Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) and Information Assurance (AI), the NSA responds “to customer requirements for information relating to the plans, intentions, capabilities, and locations of foreign powers, organizations, terrorist groups, or persons, or their agents, who threaten America’s national security,” the NSA website states.

Throughout its offices in Maryland, Colorado, Georgia, Texas, and Hawaii, the NSA/CSS is unwavering in its respect for U.S. laws and Americans’ civil liberties – and in its commitment to accountability.

How You Can Work for the NSA

Students learned about career opportunities with the NSA from Courtney Tyler. Photo courtesy Romel Baniago

Students learned about career opportunities with the NSA from Courtney Tyler. Photo courtesy Romel Baniago

Interested in working for the NSA? Courtney Tyler, who works in the Recruitment Office at the Agency, informed students at the event of the various opportunities the Agency has for them. Undergraduates in their junior and senior years of college are eligible to apply to 12-week paid summer internships. Students who successfully complete the recruitment process receive partially paid housing, annual leave, sick leave, and are placed in offices directly related to the NSA’s mission.

Students in their second semester of their freshman year of college can enter the cooperative education program. This program, which is currently accepting applicants who are majoring in computer science, computer engineering, electrical engineering, cybersecurity, or Chinese, is an alternating program, meaning it’s a semester at work, then a semester at school, and so on. One of the perks is that each time you come back to the NSA you’re placed in a different office, giving you the opportunity to try out various areas and see which is the best fit for you.
Full-time employee benefits include travel opportunities, health and retirement, flexible work schedules, an onsite fitness center, relocation assistance (if you live 75 or more miles away), and more.

If you’d like to apply, there are a few requirements. Applicants must be U.S. citizens and undergo a background investigation, polygraph, and psychological assessment.

As (STEM)2 Peer Mentor Cat Aburto said, “It was great to learn about the opportunities available to students at the National Security Agency. The knowledge and experience that Víctor and Courtney shared with us definitely opened my eyes to new career and internship possibilities.”

To apply, visit intelligencecareers.gov/nsa.

For more information on the Cypress College (STEM)2 program, visit the (STEM)2 website.

STEM Industry Partner: Edison Grant Supports Astronomy Program

Cypress College Astronomy

(Photo Credit: Edison International)

Cypress College regularly partners with industry to strengthen classroom studies so that students are better prepared for career opportunities and transfer to some of the nation’s best universities and liberal arts colleges. Southern California Edison (SCE) has done much to support our programs, faculty innovation, and student success. With guidance from CC Foundation Board Member and SCE Local Public Affairs Manager, Janelle Bader, Cypress secured a $25,000 grant in 2013 from SCE’s parent company Edison International, to fund science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) studies .

Astronomy Professor Michael Frey received $5,000 of the grant to buy a 10-inch Meade Ritchey-Chrétien telescope, which is larger and more advanced than other telescopes owned by the College. Frey uses the instrument to give students and the community high-powered views of above. During select days of the semester you can catch him in action by the Pond, both during the day (with students observing the sun, pictured above), or at one of the several evening “star parties” (open to the community) that he hosts in collaboration with the Astronomy Club. Frey also takes students on field trips, including to Joshua Tree National Park in the Mojave Desert (photo below).

In an interview with Inside Edison, Frey describes how through astronomy he feels connected to the past:

“I name the stars, then have the students name them. I tell them the ancient names of the stars, that our ancestors were people just like you and me and that they have mouthed the words of the ancients, connecting them to the past.”

A view of the night sky from Joshua Tree:


(Photo Credit: Edison International)

Michael Kavanaugh, Manager of Systems Technology at the College, is a former student of Professor Frey. He was so inspired by Frey’s teaching and the course material that he now volunteers his time to help Frey with astronomy events. For Inside Edison, Kavanaugh describes the power of the Meade Ritchey-Chrétien telescope on a recent trip to the desert:

“We saw this big blue ball — Neptune — and Uranus and nine of the planets one night. The image was so bright that I had to put on sunglasses.

Tammy Tumbling, director of Philanthropy and Community Investment at SCE, spoke with Inside Edison about the value that that Edison International sees in students getting this type of experience:

“As an energy company, we recognize the skills needed for our future workforce and business growth as well as the country. So we focus our educational funding on programs that prepare students to excel in the STEM fields.”

Frey and the College are planning future steps for the astronomy program, including an observatory and planetarium in a brand new Science, Engineering, and Math building that will be constructed under the Measure J Bond Program, which voters approved in November 2014. The Meade Ritchey-Chrétien and other telescopes, which currently have to be hauled out for each viewing event, will have a permanent home in the observatory.

Frey and Kavanaugh exemplify the dedication and innovation that Cypress faculty and staff are able to bring to their jobs with the support of the community. A big thank you to Jenelle Bader, Edison, and all of the College’s partners who make this type of service to our students possible!

#Cypress College #STEM #Industry #Partnerships #Astronomy

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STEM(2) Applications Due Dec.18th

Are you a Science, Technology, Engineering and/or Mathematics major? If so, then you should consider applying to Cypress College’s STEM(2) program. The application period for spring is open through December 18th. Program benefits include paid summer research opportunities, one-on-one counseling guidance, transport support to any four-year university, networking with industry professionals, priority admission to Cal State Fullerton, STEM career workshops, scholarships, conferences and much more.

For a bit of insight into the program and four-year pathways view the following series of STEM(2) graduate stories:

Alexandra San Pablo, Geocivil Engineering – UC Berkeley Transfer (#CYProud, 2015 graduate)
Valeria Gonzalez, Electrical Engineering –  Cal State Fullerton (#CYProud, 2015 graduate)
Jonathan Le, Biochemistry  – UCLA Transfer (#CYProud, 2015 graduate)

To apply, visit www.stem2cypress.com Applications are due Friday, December 18th.


Join our 2016 #STEM cohort!