Congratulations to our graduating students -- for more information, visit the UC Merced Commencement page.
I am a transfer student who is majoring in Bioengineering. Initially, I planned on majoring in Computer Science Engineering, but as college was approaching, it didn’t feel like the right fit for me. I became very interested in Biology and after doing research, I decided to major in Bioengineering because it combined my interest in Biology as well as Engineering and I’m really glad that I made this choice. Before transferring to UC Merced, I was attending community college. My experience here was a little rough because I felt that a lot of people were telling me “No”. Every semester, I was trying to take the maximum number of units so that I could transfer to a university faster. A lot of my advisors and professors at the time discouraged me from doing so and told me I would not be able to do it. Also, being a female in an engineering field, a lot of my male colleagues would also try to discourage me and would tell me that I am in the wrong field of study. Instead of being discouraged, I used this as motivation to do well and was able to transfer to the university after 2.5 years. When I transferred, I was greeted with extremely friendly and encouraging faculty and students at UC Merced. One of the reasons that I chose to attend this school is that it was a smaller campus and that meant that it would be easier to interact with my professors and colleagues who shared the same major as me. Unfortunately, the semester I transferred was the time that the pandemic hit, and I was only able to spend two months on campus. Because of this, I was not able to join any hands-on research labs which was something I was looking forward to when I transferred. Without experience, it has been rough searching for internship opportunities during the pandemic. This motivated me to push myself and aim high in my classes. I also took some time to teach myself some programming languages like python and C++ as I know this will help me with my career. During the two years that I spent studying at UC Merced, I am most grateful for the support of my family, my boyfriend, my professors, and the friends that I have made along the way. As I am ending my journey here, I am preparing myself to find work at a pharmaceutical or biotechnology company to find out what part of my field I am most interested in and then later use this knowledge to return to school and get my master’s degree.
I chose UC Merced because of its spirit of innovation and growth, and because of my own roots in the Merced area. Attending UC Merced feels a little like giving back to my hometown and being a part of its growth.
When I decided to pursue a career in STEM as a youngteenager, I wanted to be sure that the work I did could make a positive, measurable impact on someone’s life. Bioengineering seemed like the obvious choice, as a practical science focused on studying and treating human disease.
I can say with complete confidence that I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for my family’s incredible support and for their value of my happiness and well-being above my academic success. I am also grateful to the Spencer Lab, my friends, and to my favorite teacher for mentoring me and cheering me on.
Participating in undergraduate research in Dr. Joel Spencer's Lab has been invaluable to my growth as a scientist, an engineer and an individual. My time there has been by far the most formative period of my undergraduate education and has positively shaped the way I think and address problems not just in science, but in everyday life.
I hope to begin graduate school in Fall 2023, with an emphasis on neuroengineering and medical device design. In grad school and beyond, I want to maintain a vision of serving others and improving quality of life through collaboration with the medical community.
Camille Vo came into UC Merced under MSE, but after stumbling upon a nonprofit that teaches adults how to code, she knew that Computer Science was her path.Camille can attribute her success to many amazing organizations on campus, namely the Center for Career and Professional Advancement, the Margo F. Souza Leadership Center, Vagina Monologues, the Structural Electronics Lab, and most importantly, the Society of Women Engineers and OIT Communications. Staff and friends from these departments have given her the professional guidance necessary to thrive as a student at UC Merced and as a student of life. Come January, Camille will begin work as a developer for the global semiconductor company Texas Instruments.
Chris DeSoto is an undergraduate student at the University of California, Merced where he studies Computer Science and Engineering. Before transferring to UC Merced, Chris attended Merced College where he maintained a 3.6 GPA. While there, he held a position as President of the Merced College Computer Science Club, organizing events and fundraisers. At UC Merced, Chris has been involved in undergraduate research in Adaptive Networked Distributed Embedded Systems (ANDES) Lab under Professor Alberto Cerpa. During this time, he worked with graduate student researchers to aggregate and analyze data from ANDES lab’s smart HVAC system. In addition, he has done research in developing new adaptive time synchronization protocols for wireless sensor networks.
Professionally, Chris has had the opportunity to work as a software engineer intern at twice. First, at E&J Gallo Winery in the summer of 2017 and, later, at Cisco Meraki in the summer of 2019. There he has worked to expand his software development and leadership skills. In his spare time, Chris enjoys playing guitar and listening to music.
Elsie Cortes was born in Nogales, Arizona, but has spent the majority of her life in the central valley since moving there in 2003. She is the first member of her family to be born in the United States, and part of the family’s second generation of women to enter college. After earning her Associate’s degree in Applied Mathematics at Clovis Community College, she transferred to the University of California, Merced, to pursue computer science. While studying for her degree, she worked part-time as a tutor for the Mathnasium of Clovis-Fresno. She also volunteers her services to the Madera County Child Abuse Council as a consultant for the office’s database development program. In 2019, Elsie joined a team of students to create a mobile application for Nestle – their project won the Top Finalist award for UC Merced’s Innovate to Grow Mobile App Challenge that year. After graduating, Elsie plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics, continuing her current research in the approximation of layered boundary integrals to simulate optical cloaking with Dr. Camille Carvalho of UC Merced.
Alex graduated UC Merced with a Bachelor's of Science in Computer Science & Engineering. He originally chose UC Merced because of his older sister’s previous attendance at the university. Alex is a phenomenal student, both in and out of the classroom. He was a star student in UCM’s Computer Networks class. So much so that when he was tutoring students in nesC, a network embedded systems programming language, his peers regarded him as the nes-tor. Wiring a series of 555 timers to a breadboard and an LCD panel, dubbing it the clock biscuit, Alex taught his peers circuits and computer organization. While he maintains his superb grades, he also participates heavily in extracurriculars and research such as being a member in ACS, MESA Lab, NOS, EES, IEEE, AIAA, BMCC Systems, and JM. While Alex is hardworking in his academics, he cares deeply about the community and can often be found enjoying himself in the crystal clear Little Lake. He noticed that many of his peers were having trouble registering for classes because of their capacity, so he built Happy Reggy (a silly abbreviation of happy registration.) It was originally a program used to continuously track course availability from the registrar so that he would be notified of openings in courses that he needed. Many of his peers also were in similar situations, so to accommodate their needs, he converted his program into a service running on a Raspberry Pi in his dorm room sending outgoing emails. Alex started his time at UC Merced in a SPARK class where he met the most influential teacher he would ever have the honor and prestige to come across. This man taught him the ins and outs of computer science. His original dream was to become a quantitative trading analyst to create algorithms that predict the stock market, though that passion did not go according to plan due to the unforeseen consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, and its effect on the stock market. Alex has several plans for his future, one of which is to become the cofounder of a revolutionary startup based in San Luis Obispo.
I chose UC Merced because when I was looking for colleges during my senior year of high school it stood out to me as a new campus near my hometown with the prestigious name of an University of California and the curriculum to back it up.
From a young age, computers fascinated me which is not that hard since the simplicity and complexity of computers go hand in hand to make them function. I also wanted to learn more about coding, so that helped further cement my decision on taking this major.
My family inspired me to go to college, as I am the first to graduate in my family. My family comes from a diverse background and the highest they had ever gotten was my brother taking a vocational course and my mother dropping out before she could get her degree when she was pregnant with my brother.
A memorable academic experience would be the clubs on UC Merced campus, there were so many and I felt like I barely had time to enjoy any, but the ones that I joined and went to I enjoyed very much.
I have joined a startup part-time, and can't go into details because of my contract, but I hope it goes somewhere profitable or if not at least becomes something stable. I also plan to apply for some work in my hometown to find a stable job to fall back on just in case.
UC Merced was the natural choice for me. I feel that I could identify with UC Merced's student population; I'm a first-generation college student, an immigrant, and from a low-income background. I was attracted to the financial aid and scholarships offered as well as the low cost of living in the city of Merced, which made college financially feasible for someone like me.
I've always felt that computer science was for me. I've been fiddling with computers ever since I was young, and I've always had a knack for being able to break things. Luckily, computer security and hacking are all about breaking things! I'm specifically interested in digital forensics and network security, and I enjoy analyzing attacks and hunting down threats as well as exercising offensive attacks within the network arena (ethically, of course!). It's just what I find really cool and fun to do, and I think it's great that there will always be more for me to learn.
I'm just the summation of the influences of all the people around me. I thank my parents, first and foremost, for working hard day and night in an unfamiliar country so that I could one day go to college. I thank my team, IrisSec, for teaching me so much and having so much patience for me, and for always being awesome! I thank everyone I work with at UC Merced Extension for always having my best interests at heart and giving me access to so many opportunities and connections. I thank my professors and TAs for having infinite patience for me these past 3.5 years.
I specifically want to single out and thank Professor Cerpa and PhD student Jothi for my experiences taking a grad class as an undergrad this past semester. Professor Cerpa has truly intellectually challenged me and I've grown a lot as a result (and it's REALLY been a great challenge!), and PhD student Jothi has always treated me with kindness and understanding and has mentored me not just with my research project, but with my life. I appreciate their patience and understanding, and I aspire to have their passion for their art!
I've had plenty of memorable academic experiences, from the series of events I hosted for HackMerced where I created some sort of vulnerable system and taught attendees how to hack them ("Hack the Power/Packet/Tracks!"), to staying up night after night to work on my projects for my computer networks class with my classmate (and later, friend) Nathan. Perhaps none are more memorable than my experiences teaching and mentoring at Willie Lewis Brown Jr. Youth Academy (Summer Youth Academy) hosted by UC Merced Extension each summer.
It was so deeply wholesome to see in middle and high school students the same spark that I'd had when I was their age. I'll always remember the middle school student I had who took my coding bootcamp series over Zoom during the middle of the pandemic and created a website to show off their art in a gallery. That student came back the next summer when we hosted the academy in-person and thanked me for my encouragement, because that's what led pushed them to continue doing art.
As much as I impacted the lives of those students, they've impacted mine.
I'm not totally sure yet! I'm about to be on the market pretty soon so it's time I start looking for a job more seriously. I would like to stay in Merced for a little bit longer to work on some personal projects before moving back to Orange County because I miss my family. There's a whole backlog of hijinks and shenanigans I've yet to blog about, and then I should probably join my team, IrisSec, in finishing to prepare for our first hosted CTF in early January. I'm definitely coming back as an alumni in March for HackMerced. In the meanwhile, in the gap after I graduate but before I find a job, I'll probably be working on a series of side projects and blogging about my computer hijinks.
This has been an awesome chapter of my life!
I am Yingshi Liu, a first-generation college student majoring in Computer Science and Engineering. I would like to thank my loving parents who fully support me to pursue wherever path I want to take and whatever things I want to learn. Their trust and love encourage me to walk towards any possibilities. I spend most of my college life focusing on academic. Slowly, I found out that many small but fundamental problems determine how well I can absorb new topics, so I am very thankful for all help I got from my TAs and professors. I am especially grateful that Professor Su and Professor Du provide great classroom environment for students to ask questions, which help me build up a solid knowledge base and interest in Object-oriented Programming and Operating System. They also raise my confidence, which is meaningful to me because now I am more certain that I have a strong potential to do well or even better as I go to grad school soon.
Humberto’s passion for the environment began at Lincoln Elementary school in his hometown of Santa Rosa, California. There he learned about the impacts of global warming on a heronry located in his neighborhood. After high school, he enrolled at his local community college with the goal to one day transfer to a four-year university and pursue a degree in Environmental Engineering. In the Fall of 2018, Humberto started his first semester at UC Merced. His research interest on the climate change effects on water resources found him at the Water Systems Management Lab, led by Dr. Josué Medellín-Azuara. There he got the opportunity to do fulfilling research working with disadvantaged communities in the San Joaquin Valley. Next, Humberto plans to work in industry before returning to pursue his graduate education in the Fall of 2021.
Jesus is a first-generation university graduate that first and foremost credits his current successes to the struggles endured by his parents, who immigrated to the United States nearly 20 years ago. His work-ethic and perseverance stems from them and he is eternally grateful for the support his family and partner have shown him. He hopes to repay them one day for their sacrifices. Jesus first became drawn to the field of environmental engineering through the numerous trips he took growing up to the Sierra Nevada Range with his brothers. Through these adventures, Jesus first became aware of the serious environmental issues facing Californians. Coupled with his skills in math and science, choosing environmental engineering was simple. Through his years at UC Merced, Jesus was able to be readily involved. He served as a tutor with the Center of Educational Partnerships, helping local middle schools students prepare for their state exams. He was also able to conduct research under Dr. Peggy O’Day in projects related to the remediation of mercury contaminated soils and investigation of uranium contamination in groundwater. Finally, Jesus gives thanks to the outstanding faculty that taught him and gave him the opportunity to develop his professional skills. In the future, Jesus plans to expand upon these skills by pursuing his Master’s Degree in Environmental Engineering and applying his knowledge to help mitigate California’s present water crisis.
Sierra Lema grew up in California and tested out of high school, attending Diablo Valley College before transferring to UC Merced to earn her Bachelor's degree in Environmental Engineering. Sierra tutored at Mathnasium in San Ramon, CA while in college from 2018 to 2020. She became actively involved in two research groups under Dr. Marie-Odile Fortier and Dr. Erin Hestir. Through these research activities, Sierra investigated how direct land use and albedo change contribute to the life cycle environmental impacts of electricity generated from coal in the US; identified the interrelated factors that could affect the efficacy of the climate engineering approach of ocean iron fertilization; used remote sensing to identify watersheds with wildfire-related sediment and carbon discharges to kelp forests in California coastal waters; and computationally modeled the impacts of wildfires on watershed hydrology.
Sierra is planning to continue building a research career with broader impacts to environmental protection and climate change mitigation by pursuing a PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in the Geospatial Energy Resources and Life Cycle Assessment (GERLCA) research group headed by Dr. Fortier.
From the greater Santa Cruz area, Spencer Cole joined his elder brother as a UC Merced student in 2015. Initially driven to study Bioengineering due to the strong impacts of health conditions on family, his disinterest in the medical field as a career and developing concern for environmental issues led him to transition focus to the Environmental Engineering program. During his first year, he joined Theta Tau to develop his professional skillset. As an active member he served as the scholarship chair for three consecutive terms beginning in 2017 and on the executive board as a scribe in 2019. In his sophomore year, he dabbled into research, briefly training as a drone pilot for remote sensing of agriculture. As a junior, he joined the Water Systems Management Lab under Dr. Medellin-Azuara, where he conducted research involving hydroeconomics and agricultural modeling in the Central Valley. He presented at the annual American Geophysical Union conference in 2018 on climate change impacts on agriculture and livestock in California’s Central Valley. As a researcher, his most prominent goals are to make science more accessible and meaningful to the population at large and to improve interdisciplinarity. Academic rigor has landed him on the Chancellor’s list every year of his undergraduate career, and this summer he succeeded in passing the Fundamentals of Engineering exam, the first step in pursuing licensure as a professional engineer. He is extremely grateful for the opportunities provided by his university, mentors and family and is proud to be a graduate of UC Merced. He plans to continue his education at UC Merced as a master’s student in the Environmental Systems program, studying California’s complex water system.
Zachary Clemens is a graduate in Material Science and Engineering with a focus on nanomaterials and materials simulations for quantum computing applications. Previously, he has worked as an undergraduate researcher on density functional theory simulations of perovskite oxides and further at UC Santa Cruz studying the synthesis of nanomaterials in electrochemistry applications. As a participant in the 2020Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Data Science Challenge, he hopes to continue to apply data science and machine learning to complex materials problems in the future. In his free time, Zachary flies RC airplanes at local airfields and volunteers at the Castle Air Museum inside the restoration hangar. He is also an avid explorer and backpacker making frequent trips to Yosemite during the summer months. After graduation, he hopes to make an impact in cutting-edge materials research at companies such as Intel, Tesla and Google.
Growing up, one of my favorite shows to watch was How It’s Made, on the Discovery Channel. The idea of transforming a basic resource from the earth into something more complex was really entertaining to witness. As a hobby, playing games like Minecraft, helped me gain more appreciation for every material that we use in today’s world. All materials featured in that game always had some way to be useful, and I believe the same idea can be applied to all materials in our world. Without the knowledge obtained from material science, we would not have many technological, societal, and mechanical advancements that we have today. Throughout my journey at UC Merced, I joined multiple clubs to develop my social life, as well as improve my professional skills. Clubs such as PAA and PASE helped me achieve these milestones by hosting various events and workshops. Attending all these events gave me the confidence to pursue more opportunities and associate with more individuals that could further enlighten me. From summer 2021 to fall 2021, I joined my first ever research group, led by Professor Roberto Andresen Eguiluz. Under the guidance of him and the rest of the group, I learned more in depth about surface science and tribology by conducting experiments that identify the angle of contact that a fluid will have on a material surface. In my last semester, for my Capstone design class, my team and I are working for a client to help them develop an eco-friendlier asphalt mixture by using a renewable bio-oil binder instead of traditional oil binder. This project has helped me gain more experience in considering how to minimize waste and use materials more efficiently for the future. After I graduate, I plan to continue working in various laboratories, preferably as a lab technician, to obtain more knowledge and experience working with materials. Once I become a reliable expert in materials, I hope to one day be a materials consultant for engineering firms or for future companies. Helping teams and companies make the best decisions for their goals is a simple goal of mine, and I know that once I achieve that goal, I will make my family proud and let them know that their endless support was worth it.
As a decisive person, I identified materials science and engineering as the major I wanted to pursue my sophomore year of high school. Since it is a smaller field, there were limited schools in California that even offered the major. Among these schools, UC Merced emerged as the forerunner due to their prompt offer of acceptance. With my interest piqued, I attended an outreach mixer hosted by UCM, and after meeting some of the MSE faculty, their welcoming environment was something I came to associate with the school and the MSE department. I knew that my time at UC Merced would not only be academically enriching, but also would allow me to take advantage of all opportunities presented to me in order to make the most out of my college experience. Coming into college I wanted the full experience, including performing research and becoming a leader in the campus community, and I saw the potential for that early on at UCM.
As a first generation student, I didn't have any role models whose career I wanted to emulate. Something that my high school counselor stressed to me was the disparity between genders in STEM fields. Attending college in general was a leap of faith due to the financial and time commitment required, so I wanted to pursue a degree where I saw the highest chance of success for myself. With this in mind, I found an interest in engineering because it relies on ingenuity and creativity, and more specifically materials science and engineering because it is foundational for other disiplines. After my freshman year I found a genuine passion for the field, and after declaring my second major, computer science and engineering, I am proud of the skillset I have developed in my time at UC Merced.
Since the MSE student body is small, we have developed a close knit community at UC Merced. I ended up receiving contact info for someone a few years older than me before I even began my freshman year, and she was immensely helpful in my transition to college and in helping me navigate what courses to take. Although she has since graduated, her impact on me my first couple of years helped make me into the person I am today.
Additionally, I have had the pleasure of conducting research in three labs during the course of my undergraduate career. Dr. Sarah Kurtz took me in as early as my freshman year, mentored me, and showed me how research could be conducted with a variety of projects. From there, Dr. Valerie Leppert helped me develop lab skills and how to plan and successfully execute a detailed experimental procedure. Finally, I concluded my years with Dr. Jennifer Lu who has given me a peek at how graduate school will be by placing higher expectations on me and pushing me to perform effectively.
I will always look fondly back at the good times I had in my upper division courses with the other MSE students. Once I started my upper divs the same set of familiar faces began to emerge, and I found many friends from this group as we laughed in class together, formed study groups, and worked on projects in smaller teams despite the virtual setting. Additionally, I enjoyed my time employed as a Resident Assistant for three years, as my co-workers, supervisors, and residents made my time in the dorms memorable.
I have just finished submitting my graduate school applications, where I will be pursing a PhD in Materials Science and Engineering with a focus on computational methods. This field allows me to utilize both of my degrees cohesively in order to contribute to an up and coming area of research. I am excited to be attending a graduate school out of state, as I believe it is a great chance to have a new experience and see more of the world! Upon graduating with my PhD, I plan on going to industry to gain experience, before transitioning into a National Lab setting to return to my research roots. Before retirement, I would like to conclude my career back in academia with my own research group in order to give back to the students and mentor others who are just beginning their career.
I want to give a shoutout to the Society of WomenEngineers and Theta Tau, the professional engineering fraternity. All the SWEeties were a support system for me, especially my freshman year, and I appreciate their friendship and mentorship early on. I gave back by serving as Treasurer, then President to continue mentoring young women in STEM who were just beginning their college career. I joined Theta Tau my second year and made lifelong connections within the brothers, especially among my potential class and in my family, Hephaestus. Theta Tau helped me get more involved with the campus engineering community and I will always remember the good times we had.
Before coming to UC Merced, I was definitely not considered an 'outstanding student' so UC Merced was only school to accept me. What I ended up enjoying about Merced was the amount of research opportunities and the atmosphere that allowed me to focus on my academics.
I chose mechanical engineering because I wanted to understand how the world works. Also, mechanical engineering is a multifaceted major that gave me a strong basis for many different potential career paths.
One of my mentors while I was at UC Merced was Dr. Ricardo Pinto De Castro. I took his circuit theory class towards the beginning of my time at UC Merced and ended up doing research in his lab later on. He always provided the help and guidance I needed to do my best, all while pushing me towards bigger and better things.
One night, while studying with some friends for a circuit theory midterm, I figured out a good way to explain a difficult concept. As I was walking my friends through the process, another group of people in our class was walking by and stopped to listen in. As I kept explaining and going over more problems, more and more people from the class began to join us. What started as only a few friends studying together turned into a big group of people collaborating and working together.
After graduation, I plan on moving home to Los Angeles, where I will hopefully find a job that will support me getting a masters degree in the future. I am unsure exactly what kind of engineering job I am going to get, but I know that my time at UC Merced provided me a strong foundation for my career.
My name is Katie Bibas and I am from Irvine, California. I am an undergrad here at UC Merced studying Mechanical Engineering, but I transferred from Santa Barbara City College in the Fall of 2017. I will be graduating from UC Merced in December of this year, 2019.
I have had some great opportunities over the past two and a half years. I have gained invaluable experience as an intern at both L3 Harris as well as General Atomics Aeronautical Systems. During these internships, I was introduced to industry standards while practicing my design, analysis, and communication skills under extremely knowledgeable professionals. These are skills that I know will benefit me greatly in my career, so I am glad to have already formed a foundation to grow from. I also had the opportunity to gain exposure to hydrogen fuel cell research in Abel Chuang’s lab, TEEL. He is an incredible teacher and I believe a grew a lot from the experience. I am currently taking the Fuel Cell and Batteries class to further my understanding. I am also taking Capstone this semester and have the privilege of working with Reza Ehsani and Erin Hestir on a miniaturized optical sensor system for farmland soil sensing.
Post-graduation I plan to start my career. I am in the early stages of the interview process with a few companies, so I am hoping to be able to start shortly after graduation.
I appreciate this nomination greatly. I feel honored that someone finds me deserving of this award.
Kovin, known as Kevin by family and friends, thanks the school for the opportunity to pursue his passion in design and the engineering sciences. He is glad to have had the support of his loved ones during his time at the University of California, Merced, and the help of all the faculty here that pushed him to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. As a first-generation immigrant, Kevin’s family placed a large emphasis on higher education. A large motivation for his success came from the sacrifices his grandparents and parents made to provide him with the opportunity to be the first in his family to attend college. As an Assyrian-American, he wishes to use any success that may come his way to empower his fellow Assyrians. Kevin co-founded the Assyrian Association of the University of California, Merced, where he organized Assyrian students on campus to exchange culture and language and build unifying connections. He remained President of the club until the completion of his degree. As an employed undergraduate student, Kevin took advantage of research and small project opportunities in the fields of robotics and thermodynamics under the guidance of respected faculty. Kevin plans to pursue a Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering upon graduation to explore the field of space and aviation. He intends to apply his degrees towards creating a more sustainable future for generations to come.
I would like to thank the School of Engineering at the University of California, Merced for the opportunity to earn my degree in mechanical engineering. I’m grateful to have chosen to transfer to the University of California, Merced from a local community college in Orange County, California. As I have always had a passion for science and engineering ever since high school my lifetime goal is to become a reliable engineer. I’m very grateful this University had such helpful faculty and useful resources to help me further achieve my lifetime goal. My experience at the University of California, Merced has been a good one and I’m grateful to have been an engineering student here. As it was exciting to be part of a newly developed University within California my realization of the number of resources available was overwhelming. Considering I’m a Southern California-born individual I came to Merced not expecting such a peaceful and small University. As not much is known about the University of California, Merced from where I’m from I can say with confidence that my experience here was most valuable. I will continue to develop as an engineer and provide all I can for the current industry. As I want to acquire a second degree in electrical engineering I wish to become a professional engineer within the state of California. I’m again very grateful for my time at the University of California, Merced and I hope this University will continue to help other students like myself to achieve their lifetime goals.
As a first generation low-income student I did not have a lot of knowledge about post secondary education. However, I did know that I wanted to attend a university within the UC system. With UC Merced being oneof my top choices due to it's affordability and size, I chose to attend Bobcat Day. After attending and getting to see the campus in person for the first time, I knew that I would be going to UC Merced. Not only was the campus great but the community of people from UCM that I interacted with werevery welcoming and comforting.
I chose my major because I have always been very intrigued by the STEM field and I wanted to have the knowledge to be able to work on my own personal projects one day.
I have many people that have motivated me and inspired me to become who I am today and who I want to be in the future. First is my family that have always encouraged me to do whatever will make me happy and have never discouraged me from pursuing my current endeavors.
Second is one of my high school teachers, Mr.Frank who always motivated me to do better academically for myself and no one else. Lastly, is my current faculty mentor Dr.Ashlie Martini. At the time of our first conversation I was not sure what I wanted to do with my degree. But now after having been apart of her lab and with her guidance I have found a path that I am very excited to take.
One of my most memorable academic experiences has to be working on and completing the Four-Ball Nitrogen Chamber Project with one of the Graduate students from the Martini Lab, Jose Arturo. I remember having the most satisfying feeling when we ran our first successful test after multiple days of work. Arturo even pointed out that I had a large grin on my face.
After I graduate, I will be coming back to UC Merced to begin the Mechanical Engineering Graduate Program. I will continue to be a part of the Martini Group and working on my current projects.
Priscilla is a first-generation college student who knew very little on what college entails. She knew how to study and succeed academically but had no idea how the professional world worked. Fortunately, after joining Ingenieros Unidos, they taught her how to begin her professional career which eventually helped her begin her engineering career by helping Professor Sun and his two graduate students. She would especially like to thank her parents for always supporting her and pushing her to follow her dreams. After graduation, Priscilla will be working at Honeywell where she will be rotating within the different sections in the Aerospace department.
My name is Tamunotubo George. For most, I go by Tam. I am a Mechanical Engineering student. I chose this major because it allowed me the creative space to learn about things I wanted to know. I enjoy learning about topics like thermodynamics, fluid mechanicals, material strength and more. UC Merced has gifted me more than I ever expected, from my freshman year till now, UC Merced continues to give. I am so proud and thankful to be nominated as the Outstanding student in Mechanical Engineering at UC Merced. Through the years, UC Merced has helped to bring new friends, new connections, internships, research opportunities, scholarships and more into my life. And finally, in no small part, UC Merced has helped me secure the job I really wanted. I am proud and very thankful to God that I have been offered employment from Chevron, for the role of a design engineer. I love UC Merced, I will miss UC Merced, and I hope to give back to UC Merced as much as it has given me.
P.S shout out to Prof. Francois Blanchette, a great mentor, role model, and friend.
Tanner’s family has been his strongest supporters throughout his life. His mom and dad were his greatest mentors who taught him to be disciplined, respect others, and to never give up. Tanner would like to acknowledge his brother, Chase Ragan for guiding him onto the path of research and for teaching him to live and treat life preciously. Tanner wanted to make the most out of his college experience at UC Merced by working hard throughout his courses and learning from his faculty and peers. It wasn’t until 2020 when Tanner decided to pursue undergraduate research in Dr. Martini’s Lab. Due to the pandemic COVID-19 lockdown, Tanner adapted and learned numerical modelling. This experience led him to enjoy research in computational fluid dynamics. Tanner hopes to earn his PhD in Mechanical or Aerospace Engineering and use his experience to help others strive for success.
Deniz credits her curiosity in biophysical phenomena for her decision to study Bioengineering. She has participated in several research opportunities over her undergraduate career. In 2018, Denizjoined the Center for Cellular and Biomolecular Machines and Dr. Arvind Gopinath’s lab to mimic spermatozoa motility using Brownian dynamics simulations. She identified canonical deformation states and used these phenomenological categories to perform computational experiments that successfully mimicked the observed instability patterns. In 2019, Denizparticipated in the Stanford Summer Research Program and joined Dr. Jessica Feldman’s lab to study the localization and function of a Partition abnormal protein in the intestine of C. Elegans embryos. Utilizing confocal microscopy, she identified PAR-1 to localize in the apico-basolateral junctions based on fluorescence signals. Denizconcluded that PAR-1 contributes to the maintenance of the intestine after depleting it to observe function. In 2020, she participated in the Rosetta Commons Summer Research Program after becoming interested in studying proteins. As a scholar in Dr. Jeffrey Gray’s lab at Johns Hopkins University, her main goal was to improve antibody structure prediction using deep learning. She implemented a network for side chain predictions based on DeepH3. With this opportunity, Denizdiscovered my passion for protein engineering and solving complex biomolecular problems. In March 2021, Denizdecided to join the UC Berkeley –UC San Francisco Joint Graduate Program in Bioengineering. Her ultimate goal is to lead a team of scientists on cutting-edge protein engineering and drug design research as a professor.
After a diagnosis in high school of Type 1 Diabetes, Kurtis initially struggled to manage his chronic health condition with daily insulin injections and finger pricks. He eventually obtained an insulin pump and glucose sensor which greatly improved his standard of life. Kurtis’s personal experience motivated him to learn the fundamentals of producing medical technology which led to him to major in Bioengineering at UC Merced.
During his time at UC Merced, Kurtis was involved in research in the labs of Professor Anand Subramaniam and Professor Changqing Li. In the summer of 2019 he participated in the Frontiers of Bioimaging REU at the University of Illinois.
This fall he will join the UC Berkeley – UC San Francisco Joint Bioengineering PhD Program and explore various opportunities related to developing biotechnological advancements in cases of chronic conditions such as Type 1 Diabetes.
I wanted to be a part of a UC program because I have wanted to pursue a career in research and STEM. Furthermore, when looking into schools, I have been told by my advisors in high school that UC Merced would be a great option because there would be more available labs to work in. I also enjoyed how the school was part of a rural community, which allowed me to not only expand my worldview but create a space for myself to thrive.
I originally came to campus as a Human Biology major but realized that I love the math aspect of STEM and decided to pursue Bioengineering. I want to help develop new machinery for diagnostics and therapy in the medical field, especially for patients with psychiatric and neurological disorders, and I found that the Bioengineering major was able to give me insight into this type of research.
My main inspiration has been my family and my significant other, who have instilled in me to always become a better version of myself and to strive to use my abilities to help others whenever I can. I am also grateful for my peers and faculty on which I could rely for professional and personal growth, especially professors such as Dr. Victor Muñoz, Dr. Changqing Li, and Dr. Patricia LiWang, and a graduate student, Jesse Rodriguez Reyes, who have been large influences on my path in research and academia.
Unfortunately, a good chunk of my academic career at UC Merced has been online, but this past year, I have been most grateful for the hands-on experience I have obtained from working in the Muñoz Lab. Also, working as a tutor for the SALA Program and STEM Tutoring Hub has been a rewarding experience as I am able to provide knowledge and interest in learning for my students.
After graduating, I will be taking a gap year to pursue research in Protein Engineering in Dr. Muñoz’s lab and continue learning about Bioimaging techniques in Dr. Li’s Lab on campus while looking into other opportunities at other campuses. Afterward, I will be applying for graduate schools for Bioengineering in the field of Biotech.
To anyone interested in the Engineering program, or any program for that matter, I would advise working on time management and always taking everything as a learning experience and an opportunity to grow. You can only take as much as you give, and that includes your time and energy.
UC Merced's commitment to research was a significant factor in my decision. I was excited about the chance to work closely with professors and gain hands-on experience in my curriculum. The campus' smaller class size also allowed me to gain a more personalized learning experience, with opportunities to engage in class discussions and receive individual attention from professors. Also being from San Jose, choosing UC Merced allowed me to easily stay connected with my family and friends while pursuing my academic goals.
My favorite subjects in high school were physics and biology, so I chose to major in bioengineering to combine my proficiency in science and passion for health-related fields. I continued to pursue bioengineering as I enjoyed learning how principles from biology, physics, and engineering can be used to solve complex problems related to healthcare, biotechnology, and sustainability. I also value the creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking skills that bioengineering programs encourage us to use. Choosing to major in bioengineering is challenging but it has definitely been and continues to be a rewarding path for me and my passions.
My primary inspiration has been my family and close friends, who continue to support me and my endeavors. I want to thank Dr. Subramaniam for sparking my interest in biotherapeutics and providing me with opportunities to participate in enriching summer programs and obtain my fellowship in the Subramaniam Lab. My confidence in laboratory skills and competence in engineering has grown significantly since having joined Subramaniam Lab and I'd like to especially thank my mentors and fellow labmates Alexis Cooper and Nimra Khurram for creating such a welcoming lab environment and playing a significant role in my personal growth.
Thank you to my teammates, Coach V, and Coach Alex for challenging and motivating me every day.
Although a significant portion of my undergraduate experience was online, I am grateful to have been an undergraduate researcher in-person at Subramaniam Lab in my final semesters. I am also thankful for Luis Carrasco and my fellow tutors at the STEM Tutoring Hub as it has been a fulfilling experience to help students achieve their learning goals.
After I obtain my bachelor's, I will be continuing my education here at UC Merced as a Bioengineering PhD student this upcoming fall. I am excited to delve deeper into my research interests and develop new skills. I am grateful for this opportunity to give back to the academic community that has already helped me grow so much both individually and professionally and continue working with the faculty and students that are passionate about the field and inspire me to make a difference in the world.
My biggest advice to other engineering students is use your professors and TAs as a resource. Take advantage of attending a research university! Asking for help may be scary but take the initiative to engage with them outside of class, attend their office hours, and seek their mentorship and guidance in classes, career paths, or other opportunities.
UC Merced gives many opportunities for undergraduate students to pursue research. I value all of the unique perspectives of students and faculty around me at our Hispanic-Serving Institution, and have
used that to guide my research interests.
I chose to pursue Environmental Engineering because of its mission to providing sustainable solutions for environmental problems, while taking into account the social and economic implications of engineering
decisions. The work is very relevant and it's innate to be passionate about current issues.
Both Dr. Colleen Naughton and Dr. Josué Medellín-Azuara have been pivotal mentors in my research experience at UCM, teaching me vital lessons as a researcher and student with unconditional support. They've encouraged me to
embrace my background and use my perspective to conduct meaningful research for the benefit of members in my own community and beyond.
I've been fortunate enough to be published first author in a peer-reviewed journal on a paper through the Naughton Lab. I have also conducted research at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography through UC LEADS at UCSD, and partnered with universities in Mexico through the WSM Lab to collaborate on research efforts regarding climate resilience in drought-ridden communities.
After graduation, I will continue to conduct research at UC Merced throughout the summer with the WSM Lab. In the Fall, I will begin my pursuit of a PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering with the Osman Lab at Stanford University. There, I will further explore and develop sustainable and equitable solutions for water management in the state of California. I hope to be a professor one day at a research university.
I would like to thank every faculty member in the Environmental Engineering department for continually supporting me in my studies and pushing me to be better student and engineer. I would also like to thank Jorge Arroyo and UC LEADS for giving me the opportunity to enter the realm of research, and the constant support they've provided me to be where I am today. Lastly, I would like to thank my parents for always encouraging my interests in the environment and the arts, and not let anything hinder my love for learning.
Armaan Kapoor is graduating with a major in Computer Science and Engineering with a minor in Management Analytics and Decision Making. He would like to thank his family for always supporting him. Armaan completed his degree in three years. He always knew he had potential and the ability to accomplish big things. As an evolving cybersecurity enthusiast and a 2x intern, he spent most of my free time catching up on the latest tech news. Also, at the same time, helped teams of students to develop large-scale community service-oriented projects, being the treasurer and Cyber Division Lead of an interdisciplinary, homegrown organization known as Q Project. He thinks his best accomplishments included a weekly cyber workshop series that he hosted alongside a team, which formed a growing cyber presence at UC Merced. It is also an official security campaign on IT’s website. Armaan has been featured on SA writing Other and led Virtual Academies teaching high school students various STEM topics such as Cyber, Robotics, and LoRA. Also, by deploying a LoRA network across the Central Valley, IoT sensors running a specific LoRA network can now visit the internet through Q Project’s internet gateways. Armaan has set the foundation for UC Merced undergraduates to learn hands-on skills such as 3d printing, drone building, cyber hygiene, and even network skills through the FIRST CCNA lab at UC Merced. He has established a student-led tech space so that everyone from any major can gain any hands-on skill with no obstacles. He hopes that students will continue to fight for the projects that they are passionate about and deliver results that follow industry standards.
Devanshu Kumar came into the University of California, Merced as a B.S Computer Science and Engineering major. Upon completing his first year, he was inspired by various topics in the field of Machine learning and Artificial Intelligence from the Cognitive Science perspective. Hence, Devanshu also pursued a minor in B.S Cognitive Science along with his major in Computer Science and Engineering. Devanshu was involved in a diverse range of experiences at UC Merced. He worked as an Undergraduate Assistant –Data Quality for Stefano Foresti at UC Merced School of Engineering since 2018 where he assisted the transition of most processes into automation for the Innovate to Grow team using software and data. Furthermore, he took the responsibility of serving as a client for a capstone project and guided 3 CSE 120 teams to build a Minimum Viable Product for Veracruz Ventures.In parallel, he also worked on a research project under the guidance of Dr. Tao Ye in creating an application to simulate electric field on the nanoparticle surfaces and he helped scaled the existing simulating software to MERCED Cluster. His research project was approved to be presented in the SACNAS 2019 research conference. Lastly, Devanshu also worked on another research project under the guidance of Dr. Alberto Cerpa, which comprised of building a classification model to detect sensor faults in building HVAC systems. Devanshu attributes his success to his Principal investigators, work mentor, and professors who consistently posed challenges that allowed him to get out of his comfort zone and let him express himself through unfamiliar environments, thus allowing him to learn invaluable skills in research, technical, and professional development. In his free time, Devanshu likes to play sports such as Cricket and Tennis and he likes to take spontaneous trips in the nature or in the city to unwind. He also likes to spend time learning about stock markets as Devanshu will be joining Vanguard as a Software Developer in Malvern, PA upon graduation. Finally, Devanshu shares gratitude towards the UC Merced faculty and his friends and family for making his undergraduate experience a memorable journey towards the next phase of his life.
Tony originally planned to become an artist but came to UC Merced as a CSE student and challenged himself to take as many classes as he was interested in. The result was that he completed his degree in three years. Originally he thought he would pursue a career right out of college but instead has decided to deepen his knowledge by joining the Computer Science Master’s program at University of Washington Bothwell this fall.
Juan is a first-generation CSE student with an Applied Math minor. While he came to UC Merced with little programming experience, he enjoyed the chance to explore common and specialized languages. He recommends new and current student to join clubs on campus and attend events such as game nights and mixers to meet new people and gain exposure to company recruiters.
It's rare that as an undergraduate, you have the opportunity to make real changes to a school. UC Merced is new and constantly improving, so there are tons of opportunities available! I truly believe that UC Merced allows students to get as much out of the experience as they want to put in.
Choosing Computer Science and Engineering was always a "natural" choice for me. I spent much of my childhood and free time in high school building things, from Raspberry Pi clusters, to websites for friends and organizations I was a part of. I realized that as a CSE major, I would have the ability to continue working on the types of projects I find interesting while also learning the concepts behind them at a deeper level.
Both Professor Erin Hestir and Professor Xiaoyi Lu have been wonderful mentors to me. I took a spatial analysis course taught by Professor Hestir not knowing what to expect. I originally found the course because it fulfilled a degree requirement, but I ended up finding the course incredibly interesting. She offered me a position in her lab as an undergraduate research assistant, though which I was able to apply my programming experience and knowledge of computer science to real problems with real impact. I can't thank her enough for helping me navigate poster submissions for conferences and the application process of wonderful programs like NASA DEVELOP. Professor Lu helped me realize that pursuing Systems in graduate school was possible by giving me the opportunity to work in his lab on a real research topic.
Many of the courses I have taken here include a team-based project of some kind. Depending on team dynamics, skill levels, and the amount of time everyone has to devote, these projects can go extremely well or extremely poorly. I consider myself "lucky" enough to have experienced leading teams in both scenarios, and I think my leadership skills are better for it.
I was lucky enough to be accepted to multiple graduateprograms and had to make the difficult decision of choosing just one. Because of my positive experiences with research as an undergraduate, UC Merced won out, so I will be starting this coming fall as a first year PhD student.
I chose the University of California, Merced because I wanted to study with the best. UC Merced provides a high quality education with top professors who are willing to help when needed. The university is also conveniently located near Silicon Valley, the heart of technology and innovation. There are many career fairs that are hosted throughout the semester, which encourages students to apply for internships to various companies and jumpstart their career. UC Merced also offers the best financial aid within the UC system, bringing many students like me closer to their academic goals. I am grateful that UC Merced has offered a number of opportunities to prepare and thrive in the tech industry.
I majored in Computer Science and Engineering because I believe in building meaningful software to make technology more accessible and user-friendly. I want to be able to provide people in need with the proper technological resources to ensure they can achieve their fullest potential.
I would like to thank Dr. Santosh Chandrasekhar for being a generous and dependable mentor. He was very helpful in my capstone class and I learned a lot about how to interact with clients and how to manage my time to accommodate their needs. He was also very supportive in my decision to attend graduate school. Dr. Chandrasekhar has inspired me to become a much more well-rounded person.
My advisor, Christina Mayo, has also been of great help in preparing for my bachelors. She directed me to various resources that would further enhance my experience at UC Merced.
I would also like to thank my family and friends, who have been very supportive of my academic career and encourage me to become successful in my future endeavors.
My most memorable academic experience happened during my capstone class. This class allowed me to experience what working with a client was like, how to communicate our product effectively with them, and how to manage our time to complete a product that satisfied our client’s requirements. We also learned how to present our project in a way that was easy to understand, yet meaningful. This class gave me a taste of what it was like to work in the tech industry, which allowed me to become more prepared when performing a job.
I will be attending graduate school at the University of California, Irvine, where I will pursue a masters in Human-Computer Interaction and Design (MHCID). I hope to use the skills I’ve obtained from both my bachelors and my masters to make technology more accessible and user-friendly to people in need.
As a Central Valley native, I found myself in a uniquely comfortable and familiar environment at UC Merced. The relative youth of the university, coupled with its modest size allowed me to foster meaningful relationships with my professors and peers. The academic environment, paired with the strong sense of community, has given me not only an exceptional education, but also lifelong friendships and a sense of purpose.
I fell in love with Computer Science long before I applied to UC Merced. The nature of the problems as well as their context were always exciting for me, allowing for collaboration and creativity in ways I didn't find anywhere else. The rush of successfully solving a challenging problem is something that I have always found deeply rewarding. It is a feeling that never gets old, and one that fuels my passion for Computer Science. The thrill of discovery and the sense of accomplishment are what drive me to pursue excellence in the field.
Throughout my journey, I have been fortunate enough to have a multitude of sources for inspiration and motivation, each of which has played an integral role in shaping my personal and professional development.
First and foremost, my parents have been instrumental in providing me with a strong foundation for success. They showed me how to apply myself and my skills to the things I care about. Additionally, they taught me the importance of loyalty, both in my personal relationships and in my professional endeavors. These have served as a guiding force throughout my personal, academic, and professional pursuits.
My high school robotics coach also played a pivotal role in shaping my approach to work and collaboration. Under her guidance, I learned how to effectively communicate with others, even in high-stress situations, and how to work well within a team to achieve shared goals. These skills have proven invaluable in my academic and professional pursuits, enabling me to excel in group projects and collaborate effectively with colleagues.
Finally, my professors at UC Merced have played an instrumental role in my academic and personal growth. I'd like to specifically name Dr. Chandrasekhar, Dr. Lu, and Dr. Rusu, who have exposed me to facets of the industry that I never knew existed, broadening my horizons and fueling my passion for the field. They have consistently challenged me to push beyond my comfort zone, encouraging me to go the extra mile and strive for excellence in all aspects of my work.
Lots of my classes offered good, challenging experiences for me. These usually came in the form of group projects, which offer a unique challenge of collaboration placed on top of what is often a project with more breadth than most personal projects. Managing a project with others with a deadline is always an interesting challenge and often provides a memorable experience.
I don't have any serious plans locked down right now, but that's ok. I've been working with a tutoring startup here in Merced for the past few months, helping them put together some software solutions they need to streamline their operations. I anticipate continuing to work with them for a bit. Beyond that, I hope to find somewhere to apply my skills long-term, where I can continue to be challenged and where I can feel the impact of my work. I am also considering graduate school as a way of further expanding my skills, but I have no immediate plans.
I chose UC Merced because I was interested in attending a growing college that came with the same connections you get from more established UCs. Also, being from Fresno, I wanted to go to college near enough to home that visiting would be easy but far enough that I'd still get to be away from home.
I majored in computer science because I found programming to be an amazing creative outlet. There aren't many majors where you can think of something you want to build, and from your laptop you can design and implement it on your own, whether it's something useful for a class or just a side project for fun.
I'm especially thankful to professor Hyeran Jeon and the MoCA Lab as a whole, I got to work with them for a research internship during the summer of 2022 and that was a great experience that really opened my eyes about what research looked like for computer science. I'd also like to thank my family for being supportive throughout, I wouldn't be here without them, and of course my friends, for making the long days and late nights working on our classes bearable.
I'd say my most memorable academic experiences were the various group projects I've worked on. In computer
science you learn by doing, so working on full scale projects with a group who all have their own specialties and things to teach each other is the fastest way to pick up new skills. On top of that, making a MIPS simulator for the Computer Architecture class with professor Jeon. We spend a lot of time learning to program and not worrying about the very low level processes, but I think it's really valuable to have an idea for what was happening every
step of the way from actual binary to application execution.
Keep applying to jobs and hopefully find something in California so I can start building practical experience as soon as possible. I am considering pursuing graduate school but it's not something I'd do in the near future.
Being a first generation college student I knew nothing about college while I was growing up, but I dreamed of going. Everything I learned about selecting a college, a major and a career, I learned on my own through google. I had a short list of potential schools because they had to be schools with environmental engineering in California that I had a chance of getting accepted to. There was a time when I thought I would never make it to college because of tuition costs and my lack of knowledge. When I found UC Merced, it seemed like a place I could thrive at, since it was a somewhat smaller campus, had a strong focus on sustainability and had a community aspect a lot of other schools do not have. When I got accepted I didn't consider any other option.
I chose environmental engineering because I have always been passionate about environmental justice, preservation and solving problems. I was always the nerdy science kid growing up. I wanted my future career to combine my love of technical subjects with my passion for environmental science. After stumbling upon and doing some research on environmental engineering I knew it was for me. I want to be able to make a difference in the world by helping my community and our environment through innovative solutions.
I have had the opportunity to be a part of three research groups throughout my time at UC Merced and each mentor has had a great and distinct impact on me. Dr. Colleen Naughton gave me the chance to be a researcher with her group when I was a second-year. She taught me the importance and social responsibility that comes with being an engineer. She was my first female engineering role model and I will be carrying all of her advice with me for the rest of my life. Dr. Lilian Davila hired me to join her research group during our fully online academic year. She kept me focused on my goals while every other aspect of life was chaotic. Dr. Marie Odile Fortier brought me into her research group this year and has given me the chance to be a part of a project that directly relates to my future goals. Her support has been the most integral to my success post-graduation.
Academics were always my main focus, so a lot of my friendships started out as lab partners or members of study groups. So I will remember a lot of group projects in upper division courses where I was able to struggle through the task with people I was actually friends with.
After graduation I will be living on my own and working full-time as a field engineer with the Lane Construction Corporation in Southern California. I will be a part of the corridor project on the I-10 highway! I also plan to be a licensed PE within the next five years, as I will have taken (and hopefully passed) the FE exam by the time everyone is reading this. Working in industry and being a licensed professional engineer has always been my goal so it's amazing to see it coming into fruition!
I would not be where I am now without SWE and all the SWEeties! I was able to hone my leadership style, mentor lower classmen and inspire the next generation. I held a board position as a freshmen, then became secretary and then president. I have met forever friends and strongly believe that I would have changed my major if I would not have joined the organization. The women I met have become an integral support system for my success. The national SWE conference I attended my fourth year is also where I interviewed for and received my job offer that I will be pursuing after graduation!
Arianna has always been drawn to the environment. Ever since she was little, her favorite past times were working in the backyard pulling weeds and gardening. As she got older, she started working on bigger projects with her dad such as the planning and building of a retaining wall and a water irrigation system for the garden. This is when she noticed she loved engineering. The planning, designing, and execution of a project was exciting and the added element of the environment made it that much more of a perfect fit. During her sophomore year of college, she became part of Dr. Colleen Naughton’s lab where she developed her own research plan to study nitrate contamination in drinking water in relation to thyroid cancer and environmental justice.
Community engagement motivates Arianna to give something back as a repayment for the opportunities she had, but also to honor her family for all they have taught her and continue to teach her. She has seen how much her parents had to struggle to get her to this point and is appreciative of all the work and adversity they overcame. The exceptional and encouraging faculty at UC Merced have been integral to her growth as an Environmental Engineer; specifically the mentorship of Dr. Colleen Naughton. Dr. Naughton was a prominent figure that helped guide Arianna through her academic journey and is one of her role models. Arianna plans to take all her experiences from UC Merced and implement them in graduate school on her path to pursue a PhD in Chemical and Environmental Engineering at the University of Arizona.
Spencer transferred from Modesto Junior College in fall 2017. He joined the Yosemite Leadership Program his first semester and met many motivated students with a passion for preserving and protecting the environment for the benefit of communities. Spencer will graduate from the YLP program with a certificate of leadership. As an Environmental Engineering student he looks forward to making an impact. He has found a passion for water resource management through his Hydrology and Climate course taught by Professor Mohammad Safeeq. Spencer plans to obtain his Engineering in Training Certificate and eventually his Professional Engineering Certificate in the field of water resource management.
Anthony Rodrigues is a graduate in Materials Science and Engineering, and a first-generation college student with lots of ambitions. College was no easy task but three factors that helped him greatly was the guidance of Professor Viney since he was a freshman, the career center, and the support of his clubs/organizations: Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), the American Chemical Society (ACS), the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Merced Nanomaterials Center for Energy and Sensing (MACES), the Solar Energy Association, the Materials Research Society and Bobcat Boxing Club. All which have prepared him professionally, academically and have made his time at UC Merced a great one.While at school, Anthony has conducted research with MACES and has published papers with his Professor, Mehmet Z. Baykara, and his mentor Ogulcan Acikgoz. All whom have taught him a lot about Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), Nanoscale friction measurements, 2D Materials, and who have nurtured Anthony’s growth in the research field. Outside school, Anthony likes to volunteer at Castle Air Museum in the restoration hangar and lend a helping hand whenever he has time.If there is one thing that he is most grateful of during his time at UC Merced is the support of his friends, mentors, professors, Baykara Lab, clubs/organizations, and his family; but in particular, his mother who has sacrificed much for their family growing up. Anthony hopes to repay his mother one day for all her carino y apoyo. Now, arriving to the end of his journey at UC Merced, Anthony prepares to begin his next journey as a Materials Engineer at the Air Force Research Laboratory in Lancaster, in the Rocket Propulsion Division!
John attributes this enthusiasm for materials science from his mentors and instructors: Professor Jessica Wang, Professor Christopher Viney, Professor Sarah Kurtz and Professor James Bernard. John has worked in Professor Wang’s conductive polymer group during his time at UC Merced. He has been awarded the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship and GEM Fellowship for his graduates studies next year at Northwestern University. After finishing his Ph.D. he plans to work as a postdoctoral associate at a national laboratory with the intent of securing a staff scientist position.
UC Merced is a campus that made me feel welcomed. I admire how much the school has to offer and being a new research school was also something that made me like campus even more. I enjoy how faculty and students are always willing to teach and learn as well as always maintaining a positive work environment. UC Merced offers so many resources and opportunities to get involved and that is why students strive and make the best out of their undergraduate years here.
Material Science and Engineering was a major I did not know much about when applying, but I knew I wanted a STEM major. After taking my general lower division classes and taking introduction to materials, I became fascinated by how much can be done by studying and characterizing materials. There is so much that defines how something may work based on the study of its processing, properties, performance, and structure. I have learned that studying material science allows me to make something work better and more efficiently as well as learning that this major is so interdisciplinary that the knowledge can be applied everywhere.
My family have always been my greatest supporters! As a child of immigrant parents I always strive to do my best because I want to make my parents proud. My parents have worked so hard to provide a higher education for my sibling and I that my first thought about graduating with a bachelor's degree is making sure I make them proud by showing them that their sacrifices have all been worth it!
I would also like to highlight and thank my professors and the faculty because without them I would not be where I am today. They inspire me to always seek more knowledge and ask questions that lead to more success.
A significant academic experience would have to be the semester I took Thermodynamics. I started that class with fear of failing because I had heard it was really hard. Initially I had a very hard time learning the concepts and learning thermodynamics with a mechanical engineer perspective. I then made sure to take extra time to study, attend office hours and study sessions that eventually paid off. This is a big part of my success now because after I took that class I received an offer for a research lab assistant position from Dr. Palko. This was a sign that my hard work and determination was noticed and that no matter what the struggle is just ask for help and keep going.
Due to the amazing guidance from friends and mentors I am stoked to start a full time job at The Clorox Company as a R&D Packaging Scientist! I would have never thought I would be working for such a recognized consumer based company and I could not be happier. I am excited to start this new chapter in life and I know Clorox will allow me to apply my Material Science knowledge as well as learn a lot more from them.
I would also like to thank SHPE because without this organization I would not be this prepared and ready for the real industry world. I have gained so much knowledge and friendships that just keep growing. I appreciate the opportunity to attend the 2022 SHPE National Convention where I got so much networking experience and gained my full time job offer.
I was anxious transitioning from high school to university in 2018 but attending Bobcat Day and orientation help me feel at ease to UC Merced's welcoming environment.
Like many, I did not know what Materials Science & Engineering major entailed but quickly learned that Materials is the basis of many engineering applications. I loved the blend of chemistry, mechanical, and materials coursework and found it applicable so many topics, especially sustainably advancing technology. In my small class sizes, I have grown very close to my peers and professors in countless collaborative engineering labs and projects. When someone asks me "What is Materials Science & Engineering?" I usually refer to the fast-paced materials advancement of the semiconductors used in their smart phone.
As a first generation Asian-American, a large motivation for my success was my parents' perseverance to provide me with opportunities and the support needed to succeed. I would like to mention my recently deceased father and strong-willed mother that gave me strength to continue my Materials Science & Engineering degree during tough times and who have trusted me to achieve their dream of pursuing higher education.
I have been collaborating as a student researcher with Dr. Valerie Leppert for 1.5 years analyzing the photocatalytic properties of nanoparticles with the application of degrading organic pollutants. Almost instantaneously, I found myself very passionate with the experimental process and constantly asked questions. A huge take away from my time as a student researcher was when faced with inaccurate experimental results. Instead of getting discouraged, Dr. Leppert taught me how to critically think of possible mistakes I could've made in my procedure and how it would effect the data. Not only has developing a problem solving process useful to producing reproduceable results, but it has also built confidence in my academic abilities.
I plan to travel internationally over the summer before procuring an industry job in materials selection or research. I also plan to advance my career in Graduate school working towards an M.S./Ph.D.
Alex has been admitted to the MS program in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at UC Davis. He will begin after his MACES internship this summer. Alex credits Professor Sun for giving him the idea to consider graduate school.
I chose UC Merced because it was a smaller campus but was growing at a fast pace. The opportunity to get involved into ones area of interest is very easy here at UC Merced. Also, the people who are here are just like me, so it feels like home when I am here.
Since I was a little kid I always had an interest in cars. Movies like The Fast and the Furious Tokyo Drift made this interest grow even more. I though cars looked and sounded cool from the outside, but I would always be confused whenever I would look at the engine bay, and furthermore understanding how the car worked. Mechanical Engineers are the people who design these vehicles and have and active role in that, so for this reason I chose Mechanical Engineering.
My immediate family are my biggest motivation and inspiration. My father is the most hardworking person I know without a doubt, and NEVER complains. My mother never fails to remind me what is important in life and never stops when it comes to providing for my sister and I. My sister has always had my back and has been my mentor since I can remember. Since my sister was a Senior when I was a first year, she helped me get acclimated into college life very quickly. Despite not knowing the flow of life of the US, my family made it happen under any circumstances, so I know that I can too.
I made many friends who are also Mechanical Engineering students. Staying up late to study or work on homework in the SRE building will always be a good memory to look back on. In addition, I enjoyed my time as a Resident Assistant where I got the opportunity to help incoming student or 2nd years with things I wish I would've known at that time.
This summer I will be working as an Intern for PepsiCo as a Supply Chain Engineer Intern. After, I hope to get hired on by them or look for an industry job in the automotive space. I believe at some point I will want to pursue a masters or a PhD, so we'll see where life takes me!
I feel like I have grown a lot here at UC Merced. Through the different events, jobs, classes, etc. I have been able to challenge the way I think and have changed the way I act as a result. Experiencing a year without people due to COVID put into perspective what life is like, which made me appreciate the opportunities when they are there. I say this because once COVID hit many clubs on campus and other activities were halted and some have not made a comeback, so it is important to take advantage of the opportunities when they are there.
I chose UC Merced because I saw the potential for the school to offer great opportunities that wouldn't be as available at otherschools. Since it is the newest UC school, it has new equipment for labs and brand-new buildings for classrooms and dorms. The campus is very beautiful,and the student community here was very friendly and accepting. I wanted tocome here because I wanted to take advantage of all of these amazing attributes to help me grow academically and socially.
Throughout my academic life before college, I was always interested in STEM topics and enjoyed solving problems whether they were physical or on paper. I wanted to become an Engineer because I liked the type of problems they worked on and the industries that they worked in. I am a huge fan of the Aerospace, Energy, and Transportation fields. With all thatin mind I did not originally know what engineer I wanted to become because I had an interest in each general area. To compromise, I chose Mechanical Engineering because I would gain knowledge in many different areas of engineering which would help me discover what career path I want to follow when I graduate.
My inspiration for doing all of this hard work and dedication would have to be because of my parents and my brother. All of the life lessons and stories that have been told to me from my parents remind me how lucky I am to be in the situation that I am in today. They have given me so many opportunities and I want to do my best to make them and myself proud. Me and my brother have been competing for as long as I can remember whether it’s in sports, in academics, or in music. We have a strong sibling rivalry and even though he is better than me at some things, it just motivates me to get even better and to surpass him. In school I have had some great mentors who helped me throughout my time here at UC Merced. There are many TA's who have helped me tremendously at office hours and professors who have helped me understand difficult topics. Of all of those people, the onethat stands out to me would be Professor Ashlie Martini. She has helped me a lot with the projects that I have been working on and has helped me apply the skills I have learned in the classroom to solve complex problems. Without a doubt she has helped me grow the most since I started college.
My most memorable academic experience here at UC Merced would have to be my freshman year when I absolutely failed my first physics midterm. In high school I would pay attention in class, not study, and getting A's on my tests. Getting this result gave me a huge shock because I have never failed a test, not in high school, middle school, or elementary school which caused me to become laser focused on my schoolwork. After that 1 midterm, I went to office hours every week, completed my homework 1 week in advance, and studied like crazy for the exams. Because of all that hard work, I ended up acing the rest of the midterms and the final, which got me an A in the class. This experience taught me that working hard and putting in the extra time to learn something is how I can become successful in any task or project that I want to complete.
After I graduate, I plan to enter the job industry as an entry-level Mechanical Engineer. The short-term goal is to work in either the aerospace, energy, or transportation fields and gain experience from the projects I work on. In tandem I would like to pass the FE and EIT exams as soon as possible so that I can work in more qualified positions, eventually working my way up to getting my engineering PE license. In the long term, I would like to eventually work with NASA on planet exploration projects or help develop technological systems that can help minimize global warming.
When I first came to UC Merced, I was very shy, introverted, and typically had a difficult time initiating and continuing conversations. However, when I moved into the dorms my freshman year, I made the decision that I would break out of my shell and improve my social skills. I am so happy I made that decision because I have made so many great friends and have met so many cool people that I would've never met otherwise. I can now start and hold conversations and speak to people with confidence. If it wasn't for the amazing UC Merced students in my freshman class, I would not be where I am today and I am glad that I was able to grow not just academically but socially as well. The memories that I have made during my time at UC Merced were amazing and I can't wait to see what the future will hold.
UC Merced offers accessibility and mobility. Whether that be social, financial, or academic, it is a place of opportunity.
In my eyes, mechanical engineering is a way of organizing the physical chaos around to serve a purpose. And although I majored in mechanical engineering, it's not a stand alone major. Throughout my undergraduate time, I've found that we often work with those in computer science, electrical engineering, chemistry, and more.
I'm thankful for my family, friends and the professors throughout my academic journey. They've kept me grounded and I wouldn't be where I'm at at without them.
One of the most memorable moment was joining the Martini undergraduate research team. I was exposed to some of the unsolved engineering problems. It was an opportunity to understand how we dissect issues with no clear and perfect solution.
After graduating, I'll be heading down to LA for a tribology internship at The Aerospace Corporation. Then I'll be back to UC Merced to start the mechanical engineering PhD program.
UC Merced was actually a happy accident. I didn't initially plan to attend UC Merced but applied anyway and discovered that the school was by far the best fit for me.
As grandiose as it may sound, I believe that mechanical engineering gives one the tools to improve people's lives and the world. It has always been my hope that I can take these tools and enter the field of renewable energy and or sustainability.
My family, especially my mother and father, has been the greatest source of support and motivation through my entire academic career.
Capstone design has been my favorite academic project. Getting to collaborate with other engineering students and perform real world engineering has been a great learning experience and a blast.
In the long run, I plan on entering into sustainability and doing my small part to make the world more sustainable.
Julian would like to thank the University of California, Merced for recognizing his efforts in school, and providing another first-generation college student with a UC education. He would like to highlight that none of this would have been possible without the support from friends, family and department faculty. He enjoyed taking Thermodynamics from Professor Palk and Fluid Mechanics from Professor Rice and sends a shout out to Professor Brokowski for challenging him the most as an engineering student. Professor Martini had the largest impact on his future. As a fresh transfer student, he met with her after studying her research publications extensively and formulating a sheet of questions to ask. She agreed to add Julian to her research group right then and there during their meeting and he thanks her for the valuable research experience he gained. He is going to miss crossing Scholar’s Bridge to get to class and having picnics by little lake, and above all else, working on problem sets with friends on the SRE whiteboards. Nonetheless, Julian looks optimistically towards the future as he prepares to pursue his master’s degree developing novel cooling strategies at Stanford University.
Lucio Alfonso Moreno is a first-generation college student who attended UC Merced because he really wanted to make his abuela proud. Everything he learned about being a hard worker and showing kindness, came from her. He is grateful for everything his family has done for him. Lucio got into mechanical engineering through his high school robotics club, where he spent countless nights designing, prototyping, and building these machines to perform basic, sometimes complicated, tasks. He really enjoyed the whole process of learning how things work, that, and being good at math, made engineering a good fit. Lucio’s years in Merced were full and remarkable. He worked as a PALS tutor in mathematics. He enjoyed teaching his peers and seeing them succeed in their courses. During his undergraduate career, he was able to participate in two internships. The first with E&J Gallo Winery and the second with John Deere after being speaking to a recruiter at an NSBE conference. He even studied abroad in London during spring 2020 and highly encourage others to take part in it as well. After graduating Lucio plans on traveling a bit to other States and then getting a job focused on 3D modeling software to create or manufacturing products. He intends to complete a master’s degree in the future.
Patricia grew up playing a game she and her siblings called “inventions” in which the objective was to enhance the functionality of common household objects. This game served her well to imaginatively problem solve and pique her interest in understanding how ordinary phenomena works. Majoring in Mechanical Engineering was a natural extension of this curiosity. After graduation Patricia plans on working toward professional certification.