STEM week shifts gears

STEM students kicked it into high gear last week, thanks to some hands-on experience with a race car.

STEM week opened Wednesday, Feb. 20, in the Great Hall and was split into a two-day event held on campus, followed by a Friday field trip to CSUN, where a dozen students got a tour and a chance to work on a high performance vehicle.

Students were able to meet and gain advice from STEM transfer students. While Thursday, Feb. 21 was a chance to meet with STEM professionals who are working in the field.

Physics Department Chair Dale Fields said the event benefits students because it is practical experience for them and they are getting recent information.

“To me, being knowledgeable, being able to take something from sort of a gut decision and turn that into a conscious choice by going and exploring STEM week, you can say, ok, yes, this is exactly what I want to do,” Fields said.

Transfer students were also present to share their experience and knowledge of being a STEM major after graduating and moving onto a four-year institution.

Jamie Hale, a former Pierce student and a mechanical engineering major, said she believes events like these help students figure out which college is better suited for their major.

“I just want to help them the way I kind of felt like I was helped,” Hale said.  “Maybe help them decide because I’m assuming if they already are in STEM they already kind of have an idea of what they want to do.”

According to Lily Duong, a Pierce College counselor, this event gives the students the opportunity to meet people who work in the stem field and to understand what it’s like to be in the real world.   

“Sometimes, you don’t get the opportunity every day to get to meet people who are forensic scientists or to meet a professor who worked for UCLA, what it is like to teach if they want to go in the field,” Duong said.

Many students were able to mingle with STEM professionals and explore all the different careers in STEM.

Adrian Harper, an I.T. and software developer for Cloud 77 talked to students about the importance of utilizing their skills in the workforce.

“One of the things that I definitely encourage anyone in any career, but definitely in a STEM career is to build up your portfolio,” Harper said.

Julie L. Orloff, a Senior Criminalist for the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department stated that every day is different as a forensic scientist because she is able to give back to her community by helping people gain closure from traumatic events.

“I analyze evidence in a lab from homicide and sexual assault and any case that potentially has biological evidence, semen, saliva and urine,” Orloff said.

John Rock, an associate professor of Mathematics at Cal Poly Pomona shared with students what it is like to study Math.

“I love my job, I think my enthusiasm for mathematics helps the students find their own enthusiasm either for Math, Computer Science or Physics,” Rock said.

Fields said he thinks people are starting to realize what STEM really is.

“They can realize that is a great opportunity for their careers and it is a great secure type of job,” Fields said.