Speakers | LAunchPad 2020

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INDUSTRY SPEAKERS

Heidy Arriola

Heidy Arriola

Heidy works as a sales engineer for SUEZ Water Technologies & Solutions with primary responsibilities in water treatment services for refineries and power plants in Southern, CA. As a seasoned business development professional, Heidy works on fostering strong partnerships with customers as well as building strategy and tactics to maximize Suez technology solutions. Heidy started her career at USFilter/Siemens Water Technologies (now Evoqua) and moved onto work with Aggreko where she provided temporary utilities to petrochemical clients. Before joining Suez, Heidy worked for Envirogen Water Technologies where she focused on waste water treatment for Food & Beverage customers as well as Chromium remediation for municipal drinking water agencies. Heidy’s technical background stems from her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from UCLA. She firmly believes engineering is a solid foundation that opens many doors to various careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In addition to her full-time job, Heidy is highly involved with the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) where she has served the organization on many levels for many years. Most recently she was elected as the Vice-President of External Affairs for the SHPE Los Angeles chapter and served on SHPE’s National Board of Directors as Regional Vice President from 2013 – 2016. SHPE’s mission is to change lives by empowering the Hispanic community to realize its fullest potential and to impact the world through STEM awareness, access, support and development. Heidy is passionate about their mission and making an impact in her community. Heidy lives in Pasadena, CA and is most happy when she is with family or giving back to her community.

Arsine Baghdasarian

Arsine Baghdasarian

Arsine Baghdasarian graduated from California State University, Los Angeles in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering. She is currently a system engineer at the Hanford Nuclear Waste Treatment and Vitrification Plant (Vit Plant) in Richland, Washington. During her academic years, Arsine was involved in various student organizations which sparked her interest in working with others and planning professional events. Over the past years, working at the Vit Plant, Arsine has been a coordinator for the early career professionals technology exchange and summer internship program. Every summer she mentors the interns and helps them make the best out of their internship experience. Her daily assignments as a system engineer revolve around her systems which include overhead cranes, elevators, turntables and various mechanical and electrical equipment. A significant part of her job is to work with various organizations to make sure her assigned systems will test and operate accordingly. In her free time she enjoys painting, sewing, playing ukulele and talking to her guinea pigs.

Meline Baghdasarian

Meline Baghdasarian

Meline graduated from California State University, Los Angeles in 2014 with a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. She is currently a System Engineer at the Hanford Tank Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (Vit Plant) located at the State of Washington. Her first exposure to an operating plant as an engineer-in-training started at Covanta Energy in CA. Meline’s graduate research project at Cal State LA focused on geophysical fluid dynamics through which she was able to collaborate with few faculties on a journal publication in Physics of Fluids. Her current role as a System Engineer involves supporting multiple organizations with technical inquiries related to robots, cranes and several other automated systems. Meline also enjoys design, development and production of custom-made tools for work and everyday life. She enjoys running, hiking, 3D printing and adores her two baby-guinea pigs.

Alexis Barajas

Alexis Barajas

My name is Alexis Barajas, I am Resident Mechanical Engineer with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). In 2019, I graduated from California State University, Los Angeles with a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering. I have two Bachelor of Science Degrees from Cal State LA in Mechanical Engineering and Manufacturing Engineering with a Minor in Mathematics.

As a resident engineer with the FAA, I oversee projects at different facilities all over the western pacific region. The projects can vary from an electrical upgrade on airport runways to fuel tank replacements for our backup generators. I enjoy that every project brings a different environment, people, and sometimes challenges. The best part of this job is not just seeing the projects from beginning to end, but that my work keeps people safe that are flying all around the world.

My passion is giving back to the community like so many people helped me through my career. I would not be here today if I did not have my family, friends, and teachers pushing me to be the person they knew I could be. For that reason, I try to take as many outreaches, mentor, and volunteer opportunities that I can do to be there for people that may need a hand or support

Janet Barrientos

Janet Barrientos

Janet Barrientos was born in San Francisco and grew up in the troubled city of Compton during the '90s. She attended college at the University of California San Diego, where she earned her bachelor's degree in computer science. After college, she worked as a software engineer in test at Microsoft in Seattle where she stayed for three years. After missing the sun for so long she returned to San Diego to work for Classy.org, a company that builds fundraiser platforms for non-profits. In March of 2019, she finally decided to return home to Los Angeles by joining Hulu as a software developer in test. In her free time, she loves practicing yoga, playing with her 4 year old dog.

Jacquelyn Birdsall

Jacquelyn Birdsall

Jacquelyn Birdsall is a Senior Engineer in the Fuel Cell Development Department of Toyota Motor North America Research and Development specializing in hydrogen infrastructure, high pressure hydrogen systems and associated standards and regulations. She also serves as a technical spokesperson for the Toyota Mirai and has been in numerous publications including Car and Driver and the Wall Street Journal.
Birdsall has held several roles in the automotive industry prior to joining Toyota in 2012 with over fourteen years of experience in hydrogen, including a thirteen-month assignment at the Toyota Motor Corporation Global Headquarters in Japan.
In addition to her activities in hydrogen, Birdsall takes personal interest in promoting STEM learning and diversity within the industry. She is a board member of Women Influencing and Impacting Toyota and in 2015 was honored by the Manufacturing Institute as an Emerging Leader and by Automotive News as Rising Star.
Birdsall received a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Kettering University (previously General Motors Institute).

Natalia Callado

Natalia Callado

Boeing

Claudia Carrillo

Claudia Carrillo

Claudia is the first child of five, with three sisters and one brother, raised in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Claudia and her family migrated to the United States in hopes of a better life at the age of 12. Her family arrived at the City of Los Angeles and was she and siblings were immediately enrolled in school. She was enrolled in El Serrano Middle School as a 7th grader. Even though Claudia struggled to adjust to the new life style and new language, she managed to place in the top of her middle school class. Claudia then moved on to attend Woodrow Wilson High School where she joined many extracurricular programs, her favorite program being the Environmental Science Academy which taught her and brought awareness about the environment. Being involved in the Environmental Science Academy brought her close to her community by participating in many community service programs, such as; tree planting, beach clean-ups, caring for community gardens and street cleaning.
Through these activities she discovered that besides academics, she had a passion to help others and her community. Having discovered her passion, Claudia graduated Wilson high school and attended Cal State LA with a declared major in Civil Engineering.
Her time in Cal State LA was spent in her academics and volunteer work in student organizations, such as the American Society of Civil Engineer, and the Society of Women Engineers. She was heavily involved in the organizations, having held multiple executive board positions during her time at Cal State LA. In addition, Claudia was the student coordinator for the MESA Schools Program, which allowed her to continue her contribution to the community. Having been part of MESA and student organizations made her college experience memorable and rewarding knowing she was helping her community.
After receiving her Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering, Claudia worked as a civil engineering associate for J.L. Patterson and Associate; a civil engineering firm specialized in railroad design and construction management. She had the opportunity to work on various projects that improved the public transportation system in a local, state, and national level. Looking to grow professionally, two and a half years ago, Claudia made the decision to use her engineering degree and joined the City of Los Angeles - Department of Public Works. Being by far the most rewarding experience, because her work directly impacts the community and the city she cares the most for. Claudia’s work involves design and construction management of sidewalks and curb ramps in local streets, as well modification of streets and unused land to accommodate for bike lanes. Working for the Department of Publics Works has allowed her to continue her involvement with the community, which has always been one of her passions.

Jenny Cea

Jenny Cea

Jenny Cea, graduated from Cal State LA with her Bachelors of Science in Civil engineering in 2014 and received her master’s in Civil Engineering in 2018. She has been working as a Civil Engineering Associate since 2018 for the City of Los Angeles. Her expertise is in structural and transportation engineering. She enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter.

Rosa Cortes-Mejia

Rosa Cortes-Mejia

Rosa Cortes Mejia a first generation DACA student studying Mechanical Engineering at Cal State LA. Rosa came to the US when she was 2 years old. She comes from a strong working family that works tirelessly every day. Her parents raised her to accept that nothing comes easy and that patience, dedication and hard work is the key to everything. With this mindset, she focuses on seeking a better life, not just for herself and her family but for her community as well. Both her parents did not complete middle school, so it was difficult for her to choose a major when she applied to universities. She chose engineering because she enjoys learning new things, likes to understand how things work, and why they are important. Studying a STEM career is a challenge however, nothing great comes easy. These struggles have guided her to several opportunities, one being Honda R&D Americas, where she is an intern this summer. Becoming an engineer is not her only goal as she plans to continue to give back to her community. This is how Rosa believes we can rise together in helping everyone you can to succeed.

Roxanna Del Toro Blank Image

Roxanna Del Toro

Roxana Del Toro started taking community college courses during her last two years in high school. When she graduated high school she continued her education at Rio Hondo College before transferring to California State University, Los Angeles. She received an associate’s in Physics and Mathematics and continued to get her bachelor's in Civil Engineering. During her senior year, she interned for Jacobs engineering and is currently an engineer working for Southern California Gas Company.

Nancy Duran

Nancy Duran

Nancy Duran was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. She migrated to the US at age three and grew most of her life in the City of Azusa, CA. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from California State University, Los Angeles with a dual major in Applied Mathematics and Civil Engineering. She currently works for E2 Consulting Engineers, Inc.-- a contractor for SoCalGas--on the Pipeline Safety Enhancement Plan (PSEP). PSEP was implemented to avoid the 2010 San Bruno incident which involved a 30-inch transmission line, L132, exploding due to the overpressure of the pipe; this resulted in the immediate death of eight people, injuring 58 others and the destruction of 38 homes with damages to 70 others. Nancy is working full-time whilst preparing to obtain her PE license and is part of the American Society of Civil Engineers for the Los Angeles Younger Member Forum (ASCE LA YMF) chapter.

Blakeley Ficenec

Blakeley Ficenec

Blakeley is a Mechanical Engineer at the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LAMTA) in the Rail Vehicle Engineering department, where she has now worked for almost 6 years. She currently oversees 30 projects varying from engineering investigations, obsolescence, reverse engineering, etc. Most recently she has been assigned as the mechanical lead for COVID-19 projects as they relate to the rail vehicles. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, swimming, going on hikes, refurbishing dressers, and at home projects. She is currently taking classes towards a Master's degree in Mechanical Engineering and an Associate's degree in Computer Database Management Systems. Blakeley graduated from California State University Los Angeles in May 2017 with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering.

Stephanie Franco

Stephanie Franco

Stephanie Franco graduated from California State University, Los Angeles in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Aviation Administration.
As an undergraduate student, she received an internship with Great Minds in STEM (GMiS), an industry that helps underserved communities and teaches them about STEM all over the country. This opportunity assisted and guided her to discover Aviation as a degree. Aviation has grown in so many levels and it has become a big part of her life. After college, she worked for an FBO (Fixed Based Operations) at LAX as a Customer Service Representative and then as a Private Jet Charter Broker. Both experiences shaped her into her current career position at Burbank Airport as an Airport Operations Specialist. She is truly thankful to say that she chose a career that allows her to continue to learn and enjoys each day.

Natalie Gallegos

Natalie Gallegos

Natalie is a software engineer working with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). She has been working with JPL for the past four years on the NASA Trek Portals project; a project which aims to provide the public and the scientific community with information gathered from various orbital instruments. She started as an intern while working towards a master’s degree in computer science. She currently works on developing user interfaces, machine learning algorithms for analyzing features on images, and developing/maintaining various web APIs. She is a proud alumna of California State University of Los Angles and is thrilled to be part of the NASA/JPL community.

Diana Gomez

Diana Gomez

Diana began her career with Caltrans upon graduation as a Transportation Electrical Engineer in Fresno California. During her more than 24 years with Caltrans she has held various positions such as Senior Transportation Electrical Engineer, Chief for the Office of TMC Support, Chief of the Office of Traffic Management, and Chief of the Office of Systems Management Operation at Headquarters. Her contributions include implementing QuickMap, which displays statewide traffic information, and a software tool to track the response to incidents. She also consolidated the Permit Offices and reorganized the Division of Traffic Operations in Los Angeles. In 2011, Diana was appointed to the Caltrans' executive management team in Los Angeles as the Deputy District Director of Operations, which made her the highest ranking Latina engineer at California Department of Transportation.
In 2012 Diana was appointed by California Governor Jerry Brown as the Central Valley Regional Director of California High-Speed Rail Authority. She joins an executive management team that will significantly improve the Authority's operations. It will bring high-speed electric passenger operations to California, tying together the Central Valley with the Los Angeles Basin as a first step toward a statewide high-speed rail system. As the Director for the Central Valley she was responsible for ensuring the high speed rail project in the Central Valley continues to move forward on the planned schedule and budget. Most recently, Diana was appointed as the District 6 Director for Caltrans.
In her spare time, Diana is an active member of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE). Holding positions on the SHPE Board such as Regional Vice President, National Treasurer and National President and currently is the Chair of SHPE Foundation. Diana serves her community by speaking at local high schools, encouraging young Hispanics to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and higher education.
She has been recognized as one of the 100 Most Influential Hispanics by Hispanic Business and as one of the top 100 Hispanics in the technical field by Hispanic Engineer.
Diana graduated in 1988 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering from California State University, Fresno. She is currently a board member for the Alumni Association and on the Advisory Board for the School of Engineering at CSU Fresno.
Diana has been a Registered Electrical Engineer since 1997 and she obtained her Project Management Professional (PMP) Credential in 2005.

Robin Grandl, Ph.D.

Robin Grandl, Ph.D.

Robin Grandl, PhD provides collaborative leadership in early-stage MedTech that is distinguished by a passion for addressing real-world clinical challenges with thoughtful user-centric solutions. An engineering graduate of MIT and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, she builds purposeful coalitions of healthcare providers, product teams, and commercial professionals with a focus on optimizing user experience and achieving sustainable commercial and clinical success. Robin is currently Director of Marketing at Activ Surgical, a Boston-based startup focused on the development of next-generation surgical sensing capabilities. She has previous early-stage surgical robotics experience with TransEnterix and Neocis. She is valued in her field as a trusted advisor and mentor who practices authentic front-line leadership.

Blanca Herrera, P.E.

Blanca Herrera, P.E.

I’m a graduate from California State University Los Angeles CalState LA) from where I received a BS in Civil Engineering. While attending Cal State LA I was an active member of the Society of Women Engineers, Chi Epsilon, Tau Beta Pie, and Delta Zeta National Sorority, an organization on which I held leadership positions. As an undergraduate student, I worked as a student engineer at the Port of LA doing construction management. Nowadays I hold a master's in civil engineering from the University of Southern California (USC), I’m also a Register Professional Engineer with the State of CA. Currently, I work for the Department of Water and Power (DWP) as a Civil Engineer Associate. I truly believe that students are our future and I’m passionate about helping them fulfill their career goals.

Judith Ibarra Bianchetta, P.E.

Judith Ibarra Bianchetta, P.E.

Judith is currently Vice President, US Growth and Strategy for Tetra Tech based out of the firms’ Pasadena office. She is responsible for accelerating company growth across the United States through leading strategic initiatives focused on infrastructure solutions. She brings over 20 years of diverse experience in the areas of business development, operations, program/project management, government affairs, and community relations. She has served in a variety of leadership roles in Texas and California for both Water and Transportation Business Lines. including Operations Lead, Client Account Manager, Client Service Manager, and Area Manager. Judith is a proud graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering. She is a licensed Professional Engineer, Certified Floodplain Manager, and Certified Envision Sustainability Professional. Judith is passionate about sustainable infrastructure through multi-disciplined approaches, bringing solutions to complex infrastructure challenges, communicating technical information to non-technical communities, and STEM advocacy with the Latino/Hispanic community.

Sweta Kadam

Sweta Kadam

MS in Computer Science from California State University Los Angeles with a 3.9 GPA. Strong understanding of OOP, Software Architecture, Complex Data structures, Algorithms, Design Patterns, and Agile methodology.
Mumbai University, India —Bachelor Of Engineering, JUNE 1999 - MAY 2002. Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Science from a top school in India with First Class.
Currently, she is working at Autogravity where she led the ground-up development and delivery of the Turn Android app in 3 months as a sole Android Engineer using Kotlin, Coroutines, MVVM, Clean code, Google architecture components like navigation, pagination, live data, view models, Koin for dependency injection and material design components. She worked with the iOS team toward their shared goal to improve architecture, make existing code base unit-testable, and refactor existing code for scalability and faster delivery. Collaborated with the web team to raise awareness about SEO and provided guidelines based on previous work experience, which resulted in increased organic traffic on turncar.com. Worked with the product design team to explain the nuances of the mobile checkout flow.

Roxanne Keller

Roxanne Keller

My name is Roxanne Keller (Acosta). I grew up in Downey, CA and graduated from Warren High School in 2007. I attended Cal State LA from 2007 to 2015. I graduated with a degree in civil engineering. During my time at Cal State LA, I was a part of several student organizations throughout the years. I was involved in SHPE (Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers), ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers), and SWE (Society of Women Engineers). As a student, I also got the opportunity to be an intern for Southern California Edison, and I got to participate in research for the Office of Naval Research.
My parents emigrated from Mexico in the early 80's right after they got married. Neither of my parents graduated from high school nor received very much formal education, but they came here so their children could have better opportunities. Being a first-generation college student came with its fair share of additional challenges, but I am grateful for all of them. They helped build a lot of character! I have been a Wire Installation Engineer at Boeing for the past 5 years. During my time at Boeing, I have gotten the opportunity to work on a variety of projects. As a Wire Installation Engineer, I am responsible for coordinating with different aircraft area owners to ensure seamless routing through all areas of the aircraft. For the past year, I have been working with the COSP (Continued Operational Safety Program) group. In this group, we investigate safety issues that occur on the aircraft. This position entails gathering all details of the incident, conducting research, seeking advice and guidance from subject matter experts, and presenting all findings to a committee.

Judy Kruger

Judy Kruger

Judy Kruger is the Sr Director of Strategic Initiatives at the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, a non-profit focused on building opportunities for good paying jobs in California.
In her role as Sr Director, Judy provides vision, direction, and execution of the LAEDC’s ecosystem and cluster development in LA County and Southern California in advanced transportation and mobility.
She is the founder and architect of California SmartMatch, a B2B matchmaking program assisting large companies with their diversity supplier needs. With over 200 matches made, California SmartMatch program is focused on building the Electric Vehicle Mobility companies and their supply base locally.
Judy has extensive experience in national and international economic development initiatives. She developed, launched, and successfully implemented sizeable programs in multiple industries. In her past positions as a sales executive, business consultant, and strategic planner, she has worked with U.S. and foreign companies seeking to grow businesses in Europe, Asia, South America, Mexico, Cuba and the U.S. As the Vice President of Sales for Grupo Prodensa, a Mexican firm, Judy implemented the firm’s foreign investment, marketing, and sales strategy.
Formerly, Judy served as a Strategic Planner at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. In that role, she led the automotive, aerospace and defense business development focus for the state, coordinating project development and advocacy with local, state, congressional, and governors’ offices. Her responsibilities also included working with companies and prime contractors researching, identifying, and building growth markets, new opportunities and key partnerships.
Judy holds a Juris Doctor from Western Michigan Law School and a Bachelors of Arts in English Literature from Grand Valley State University

Dr. Courtney Lane

Dr. Courtney Lane

Dr. Courtney Lane has over 15 years of experience in neuromodulation device development and clinical trials. She earned her B.S.E.E. from Rice University, cum laude, and obtained her Ph.D. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the Division of Health Sciences and Technology, where her thesis work focused on the neurophysiology of the auditory system. She then worked to develop hearing aid algorithms as a researcher at Rice University with Prof. Don H. Johnson. Upon leaving academia, she was instrumental in the development of the Deep Brain Stimulation program at Boston Scientific, where she worked on all aspects of device development, from R&D and test designs to clinical trial designs and regulatory submissions. She then served as the Director of Clinical Science and Strategy, overseeing a team of clinical scientists developing Boston Scientific Neuromodulation’s clinical trial portfolio. She also served as Vice-President of Clinical Affairs for Axonics Modulation Technologies, where she was responsible for the design and execution of the clinical program of a sacral neuromodulation device. Dr. Lane has since founded Anacapa Clinical Research, a company that works with cutting edge medical device companies in the development of their devices and clinical and regulatory programs.

Alondra Lira

Alondra Lira

Alondra Lira is a Project Engineer at SoCalGas currently working on the Pipeline Safety Enhancement Program (PSEP) where she does project development on various Transmission Pipeline projects in Riverside County. She is also currently transitioning to a new role as a Project Manager for Major Projects within SoCalGas. Alondra was previously a project engineer/field engineer for the PSEP Valve Construction Team as a contractor with Jacobs Engineering. Before her PSEP roles, Alondra was an engineering intern at Upper San Gabriel Municipal Water District supporting the District’s Engineer Project Manager on water conservation projects. Alondra holds a double Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering and Environmental Engineering from California State University, Los Angeles. She is an active member of ASCE LAYMF and SHEP LA. She enjoys traveling within and outside the country and is currently into kayaking.

Rubi Mora

Rubi Mora

Rubi Mora graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Cal State LA in 2018. She then moved to Michigan to join General Motor’s TRACK employee program. As part of this program, she has had the opportunity to explore different roles among those being a Systems Safety Engineer, a Systems Integration Engineer, and lastly her current role as a Sensing Systems Architect in Automated Driving. Before becoming an engineer Rubi only knew two things, that she liked science and that she wanted to earn a college degree. Through some googling, reading Wikipedia, and talks with her cousin (a mechanical engineer), she then chose to pursue engineering as her career.

Lorena Nava

Lorena Nava

My name is Lorena Nava. I graduated from Cal State LA in 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. I was a first-generation college graduate and the first female engineer in the family. During my time in Cal State LA, I worked/volunteered for the MESA program and LAunchPad program. Being involved with these programs allowed me to become the person I am today. The MESA program gave me the technical skills to be able to run and lead the team to complete a project. The LAunchPad, however, allowed me to work with many amazing girls and help inspire them to pursue STEM careers by telling them my experiences being in a STEM career. Currently, I am an Associate Engineer for the Construction department at the SoCalGas Company. I work with the Pipeline Safety Enhancement Plan (PSEP) Valves project development team. The valves team is responsible for automating valves with remote control valve (RCV) and automatic shut-off valve capabilities. This helps prevent any potential gas leaks on our pipelines. My responsibilities are to work alongside the project manager in the initial stages of the project to ensure the construction process starts and runs smoothly. My future goals are to continue growing within the company and to continue inspiring the younger generation to pursue a career in STEM.

Alison Park

Alison Park

Alison Park is currently a Program Manager for Advanced Manufacturing and Materials at Aerojet Rocketdyne Los Angeles. Aerojet Rocketdyne provides rocket propulsion and energetics to the space, missile defense and strategic systems, and tactical systems areas. Alison is a part of Advanced Space Launch System leadership group providing guidance and integration support to space and deep-space rocket engine programs (boosters, second stage, in-space thrusters, and Mars and Lunar landers) in the field of AM and advanced material technologies. Majority of her time is spent on working with Engineering Team to plan and coordinate to take Additive design concepts to engine hot-fire certification and eventually inserting into a series production program. She is a mom of two high school girls and two maltipoos.

Maria Prieto

Maria Prieto

Maria graduated from Cal State LA in 2015 with her BS in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering degrees. She started her career as an Engineer at Southern California Gas company where she worked for three years. She currently works at Honeywell FM&T.  On her time off she enjoys traveling and volunteering in her community.

Monica Quaresma

Monica Quaresma

Monica Quaresma is a Systems Engineering Manager for the Contamination Control and Survivability Test Engineering at Boeing, El Segundo. She has been a Boeing team member for almost 20 years. Her technical expertise is in on-orbit contamination analysis and has provided risk assessments, analysis, and system engineering support for ground and on-orbit contamination and Survivability Engineering for all programs (commercial and government satellite systems, The International Space Station, Commercial Crew program, to name a few). She is responsible for providing Survivability environmental test support for material and unit qualification campaigns.
Monica was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1999. In 2004 she obtained a Master’s of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Southern California. Outside of work she enjoys time with her husband and two boys, concerts, travel, and cooking.

Luz Rabelo

Luz Rabelo

Luz Rabelo has a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in Civil Engineering from California State University, Los Angeles. She is also a registered professional engineer in the State of California. Upon graduating from college she worked in the private sector completing design work for various improvements in the Los Angeles County Metro Bus Facilities. Following that she worked as a Water Resource Control Engineer for the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board, where she oversaw the assessment and clean up of multiple contaminated sites within Los Angeles County. Currently, she is working as a Civil Engineering Associate with the City of Los Angeles, Bureau of Engineering where she does construction management for various projects including the Mayors “A Bridge Home” program, constructing shelters to house the homeless in Los Angeles. Luz is currently married and is a mother of two.

Amy Ryan

Amy Ryan

Margaret Amy Ryan received a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, a B.S. in Chemistry from Metropolitan State College in Denver and an A.B. in History from the University of Chicago.  She was a research scientist at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Bellevue, France, and at the Solar Energy Research Institute (now National Renewable Energy Lab) in Golden, Colorado. Her work in those labs included modification of metal oxide and semiconductor electrodes for photoelectrochemical energy conversion, photoelectrochemical processing of solids, and photochemistry.

Dr. Ryan worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory from 1989 to 2011. Her work at JPL concentrated on two primary areas of research:  (a) development of chemical sensors and devices for air quality monitoring in inhabited spacecraft and on planetary surfaces, including the JPL Electronic Nose, silicon carbide hydrocarbon sensors, and colorimetric sensors for ozone and other oxidants; and (b) investigations of metals and metal alloys for use in high temperature energy conversion devices for spacecraft, including the Alkali Metal Thermal to Electric Converter (AMTEC) and thermoelectric devices.  She was the Principal Investigator on the NASA Electronic Nose Technology Development Task, which culminated in the use of the JPL Electronic Nose in a six month experiment to monitor breathing air the International Space Station.

After leaving JPL, Dr. Ryan worked at the US Department of Energy in the Solar Photochemistry Program in Basic Energy Sciences. She is now retired.

Sara Sallam

Sara Sallam

Sara Sallam graduated from Cal State LA with a dual degree in mechanical and manufacturing engineering. She currently works as a project manager for Otis Elevator where she manages installations for new construction projects. In my free time, I enjoy traveling, hiking, and mentoring people.

Cynthia Santana-Ramirez

Cynthia Santana-Ramirez

Cynthia is a mechanical engineer who works for SoCalGas. In her role, she works on compiling data involving gas leaks to report to government agencies. She attended Rio Hondo Community College and was active in the MESA program (Math Engineering Science Achievement). Cynthia transferred to Cal State LA and worked on projects in Dr. Samuel Landsberger's Rehabilitation Engineering Lab. She earned a bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering in May 2019.

Ana Alyeska Santos

Ana Alyeska Santos

Ana Alyeska Santos works as an Engineer in Biosense Webster, Inc. (BWI), a medical device company under Johnson & Johnson. Yeska received her bachelor's degree in Industrial Engineering from Cal Poly Pomona in May 2019.

Sumire Spurlock

Sumire Spurlock

Sumire Spurlock, the Safety Management System (SMS) Manager at Hollywood Burbank Airport. I've worked in the Aviation industry for over 10 years. I went to the University of California Santa Barbara and received a Bachelor's degree in Cultural Anthropology. Soon after graduation, I fell into and in love with the world of aviation and have not looked back ever since. I briefly worked for an airline and TSA before getting into Airport Operations and progressing from there. Now, as an SMS Manager, I get to build from the ground up a safety program for the entire airport to ensure we are proactive in our safety efforts. This includes our response and recovery from COVID-19.

Michelle Tovar-Mora, MS, EIT

Michelle Tovar-Mora, MS, EIT

Keeping the lights on for an entire city is something that is often taken for granted. Mrs. Tovar-Mora’s great passion for making a significant impact has led her to be part of the largest municipally owned utility in the nation, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), doing her part to provide reliable and sustainable energy to the community. Her career in the utility industry began as a Staff Mechanical Engineer at ASWB Engineering; a woman owned and operated consulting engineering firm. However, her passion for inspiring women engineers began in college where she held multiple leadership roles in the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), the Society of Hispanic Engineers and Science Students (SHPE), American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and the Engineering, Computer Science and Technology Student Council (ECST). These leadership experiences helped launch her engineering career with an internship at the City of Santa Ana. Her educational background includes a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from California State University, Los Angeles Cal State LA). Her future educational and professional goals are to obtain a Master of Business Administration (MBA) and become a Licensed Professional Engineering in the state of California. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her son, planning vacations with her husband, and participating in STEM outreach for students. Michelle believes that “with dedication and self-motivation anything is possible.”

Bianca Valdovinos

Bianca Valdovinos

I currently work as a Software Engineer at Raytheon Technologies. I began as an intern there in the Summer of 2019 building code that wipes the memory of classified hardware. In addition to building code, I ran signal integrity tests on this hardware. I graduated from Cal State LA in June with a degree in Electrical Engineering and a specialization in power systems. My senior design project focused on using a computer to recognize objects in images. This process of object recognition uses machine learning. This project piqued my interest in computer engineering and is the reason why I chose to pursue a position as a software engineer.

 

 


FACULTY SPEAKERS

Chris Bachman, Ph.D.

Chris Bachman, Ph.D.

Dr. Bachman is an Assistant Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Cal State LA. He received his B.S. (2010) and M.S. (2012) from the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) and his Ph.D. (2017) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). At MIT he performed research under the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship and the MIT Mechanical Engineering Department Fellowship. He has performed research in batteries, fuel cells, supercapacitors, wind energy, and engineering education. His work has been featured in Nature Materials, Nature Communications, and Chemical Reviews, and has been cited over 700 times in the previous five years. He has taught experimental methods, control systems, and mechanical design at UC Davis; physics and calculus at MIT; fluid mechanics and mechanical vibrations the Wentworth Institute of Technology (WIT); and Introduction to Engineering and Technology, Introduction to Mechanical Design, Thermodynamics, and Senior Design at Cal State LA. He also currently advises both the Baja SAE and Formula SAE competition teams, directs the ECST Makerspace, and runs the Sustainable Technology Lab researching inexpensive and safe energy storage.

David Blekhman, Ph.D.

David Blekhman, Ph.D.

Dr. Blekhman is a Professor at the Department of Technology at Cal State LA. His research specializations are Alternative and Renewable Energy, Fuel Cells, Hybrid and Electric Vehicles, Automotive Applications, Fuel Reforming, Combustion, Thermal and Fluid Systems, CFD, Data Acquisition and Instrumentation, Rotating Machinery.

Mathias Brieu, Ph.D.

Mathias Brieu, Ph.D.

Dr. Brieu is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Cal State LA. He specialized in mechanics of materials and computational mechanics. Prior to joining Cal State LA, he was Professor in France and is still having interaction with his former institution. His research developed in a synergy between France and the USA and aims at developing activities in the field of BioMedical Engineering.

Xiaolei (Lily) Chen, Ph.D.

Xiaolei (Lily) Chen, Ph.D.

Dr. Chen received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, and joined Cal State LA as an assistant professor in Fire Protection Administration and Technology in 2015. Her major field is fire protection engineering with a focus on building fire performance evaluation. In addition to teaching, she also conducts research in performance based design approach, fire modeling and simulation, fire safety in green building, etc.

Mohsen Eshraghi, Ph.D.

Mohsen Eshraghi, Ph.D.

Dr. Eshraghi is an Associate Professor at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Cal State LA. His research specializations are Materials Science, Manufacturing, Numerical Modeling, Lattice Boltzmann Method.

Alexis Kam

Alexis Kam

Alexis Kam is a recently graduated Mechanical Engineer from Cal State LA. She is pursuing a career in the construction industry, where she strives to promote greener practices and reduce energy/water waste in buildings. Alexis will join ACCO in Pasadena as an HVAC Design Engineer for commercial systems this August. She is also applying to graduate programs to specialize and further her education in urban sustainability design and construction.

Eun-Young Elaine Kang, Ph.D.

Eun-Young Elaine Kang, Ph.D.

Dr. Kang is a professor in the Department of Computer Science of the College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology at Cal State LA and currently serves as Chair of the Computer Science Department. Her research interests are in Computer Vision, Computer Graphics, Augmented/Mixed Reality, and Game Programming. She has served as principal undergraduate advisor for the Computer Science department for several years. Also, she has served as PI/Co-PI on multiple educational projects sponsored by NSF programs including NSF S-STEM, NSF GK-12, and NSF TUES.

Arezoo Khodayari, Ph.D.

Arezoo Khodayari, Ph.D.

Dr. Khodayari is the founding director of Environmental Sustainability and Pollution Control (ESPC) research lab, and her research is focused on developing sustainable engineering solutions for air and water pollution prevention and control, quantifying air quality and climate effects of various natural and human-made emissions, integrated environmental impact assessment, environmental sustainability, and energy-water-climate nexus.

Wing Shun (Welson) Kwan, Ph.D.

Wing Shun (Welson) Kwan, Ph.D.

Dr. Kwan is an Assistant Professor in the Civil Engineering Department at California State University, Los Angeles. His research work focuses on Geotechnical Engineering.

Charles Liu, Ph.D.

Charles Liu, Ph.D.

Dr. Liu is a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Cal State LA. Starting from 2019, he also serves as the chair of the Department. His research interests include parallel architecture, embedded architectures, high performance computing for signal processing, and image processing, and message passing based parallel algorithms. He has extensive experience in minority education and research in the discipline of computer engineering. He has been collaboratively acquired over $12,000,000 funding from NASA, NSF, and National Argonne Lab for research of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) distributed control, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) design, space science and STEM education, and Advanced Driver's Assistance Systems (ADAS). He has been advised over 10 teams of senior design projects and over 30 master theses as a faculty member at Cal State LA.

Sonya Lopez, Ph.D.

Sonya Lopez, Ph.D.

Dr. Lopez is an Associate Professor at the Department of Civil Engineering at Cal State LA. Her research specializations are Hydrology and Water Resources Engineering; Physically-based and Conceptually-based hydrologic modeling; Remote Sensing of the Environment

Mehran Mazari, Ph.D.

Mehran Mazari, Ph.D.

Dr. Mazari is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at California State University, specializing in Transportation Infrastructures and Materials. His research interests include sustainable and resilient transportation infrastructure, transportation geotechnics and pavement materials, and non-destructive evaluation of transportation infrastructures. He has been actively involved in a number of national and state research projects. He is a member of three technical committees at the Transportation Research Board of National Academies of Science and Engineering and the young member of the Highway Pavement Committee of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). He is the founding director of the Sustainable Infrastructure Materials research lab at California State University Los Angeles.

Mohammad Pourhomayoun, Ph.D.

Mohammad Pourhomayoun, Ph.D.

Dr. Pourhomayoun is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at California State University Los Angeles Cal State LA). He is the founder and director of the Artificial Intelligence & Data Science Research Lab at Cal State LA. Dr. Pourhomayoun’s research interests focus on Data Science, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Machine Learning for healthcare and biomedical applications. Before joining Cal State LA, he was a Technical Project Manager and Senior Data Scientist at WANDA Inc. working on Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, and Large-scale Machine Learning for Healthcare applications. At the same time, he was also a Research Scientist at UCLA. Prior to this position, he was a Post-Doctoral Associate and Research Manager at the UCLA Computer Science Department. His postdoc research focused on Predictive Analytics and Advanced Machine Learning for mobile health and biomedicine. Before joining UCLA, he was a Research Scientist with Cornell University working on Large-scale Machine and Deep Learning. Dr. Pourhomayoun has more than 70 peer-reviewed conference and journal papers in his research field. He has received 3 “Best Paper Awards” in different conferences so far.

Tona Rodriguez-Nikl, Ph.D.

Tona Rodriguez-Nikl, Ph.D.

Dr. Rodriguez-Nikl is an Associate Professor of Civil Engineering. He earned B.S. and M.S. degrees in Civil Engineering from U.C. Berkeley and a Ph.D. in Structural Engineering from U.C. San Diego. He is also a licensed Professional Civil Engineer in California. The main goal of his research is to improve the earthquake-safety of structures. He is also interested in the long-term wellbeing of infrastructure and communities. Dr. Rodriguez-Nikl advises the EERI student group on campus. This group builds a scaled building then tests it to see if it can withstand a simulated earthquake.

Jeff Santner, Ph.D.

Jeff Santner, Ph.D.

Dr. Santner is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Cal State LA. His research is in combustion, with a focus on combustion chemistry and flame initiation/propagation. He is currently working on NOx formation, kinetic model reduction, design of optimal experiments, and extraction of reaction rates from literature experiments.

Masood Shahverdi, Ph.D.

Masood Shahverdi, Ph.D.

Dr. Shahverdi is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Cal State LA. His research area are Power Management Systems for Power and Energy systems including Electrified Vehicles and Connected Renewable Energy Systems; Gate Drive for SiC Power Electronics Semiconductors; Protection Systems for Substations and Utilities.

He Shen, Ph.D.

He Shen, Ph.D.

Dr. Shen received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering with the Best Dissertation Award from the College of Engineering and Computer Science in 2014 from the University of Central Florida. He is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and his research interests are in robotics, control systems, dynamics, and instrumentation. He is the founder and director of the Robotics Laboratory and an advisor of two student organizations – American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV) at Cal State LA. He is also a recipient of the 2017 “Exceptional Levels of Service to Students Award” and 2020 “Faculty Mentor Honoree” at Cal State LA.

Curtis Wang, Ph.D.

Curtis Wang, Ph.D.

Dr. Wang is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Cal State LA. His research area is in biomechanical engineering.

Deborah Won, Ph.D.

Deborah Won, Ph.D.

Dr. Won is a Professor at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Cal State LA. Her research area is in biomechanical engineering. Broadly speaking, her main research interests are in acquiring, interpreting, and modulating electrical signals in the body. For example, some of the research has dealt with a medical technology called deep brain stimulation, by which electrical current pulses are delivered to a deep structure in the brain called the subthalamic nucleus. This therapy is used in patients with movement disorders, such as Parkinson's disease.

Zilong Ye, Ph.D.

Zilong Ye, Ph.D.

Dr. Ye is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Computer Science at Cal State LA. His research interests focus on algorithm and system design in the computer networking areas, including Network Function Virtualization, Software-Defined Networking, Fog Computing, Information-Centric Networking, Cloud Computing, Internet of Things, and Optical Networking.

Yuqing Zhu, Ph.D.

Yuqing Zhu, Ph.D.

Dr. Zhu is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science, California State University, Los Angeles. He obtained his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Texas at Dallas. His research interests include Graph Neural Networks, Data Mining in Social and Information Networks, and Distributed Systems.

 

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