Praise for SJSU Students from Prospective Employer

San Jose State University students made such an impression on Harold Mann, a recruiter for Mann Consulting who attended a STEM Career Fair hosted by SJSU’s Career Center this week, he took to LinkedIn to praise the soon-to-be graduates who were seeking employment.

“My company recruits at numerous universities and colleges throughout California,” he wrote in a LinkedIn post on Sept. 19. “The typical behavior at job fairs is that students saunter up to our table and ask questions like ‘so, what do you guys do’ and ‘can you tell me what positions are available?’ At our first job fair at San Jose State University, however, the results were different.”

He noted the professionalism of the students, their preparation of resumes specific to his company rather than a generic photocopy handed out to multiple employers, and the background research students did before lining up to speak with him at the job fair to better understand his company and its needs.

“Sure, we saw a few skateboards and tee shirts, but the overwhelming takeaway was that this was a professional, motivated, humble and polished group of students,” he wrote.

Catherine Voss Plaxton, director of SJSU’s Career Center said the staff offers several well-attended Job Fair Success workshops, along with several other forms of on-going career education.

“The behaviors described by the author of the article represent the exact direction we give to students regarding preparation,” she said.

SJSU’s Career Center has hosted several jobs fair so far this semester including an on-campus/part-time job fair, a business and government job and internship fair, and this week’s a STEM undergraduate and graduate fair. For a list of upcoming activities and job fairs, visit the Career Center online.

SJSU Students Build Hyperloop Prototype

Academic leaders and industry partners talk with members of SJSU's Spartan Hyperloop team at the Innovation Design Collaborative at San Jose State on Friday, June, 8, 2018. (James Tensuan/San Jose State University)

Academic leaders and industry partners talk with members of SJSU’s Spartan Hyperloop team at the Innovation Design Collaborative at San Jose State on Friday, June, 8, 2018. (James Tensuan/San Jose State University)

By David Goll

Visionaries view a futuristic tube containing capsules, or “pods,” speeding passengers more than 700 miles per hour between the Bay Area and Los Angeles in about a half hour as one way to help ease the Golden State’s congested roadways.

And engineers of the future studying today at San Jose State University want to play a big part in moving what is called “hyperloop” technology from design and testing phases into reality. They are looking for solutions for one of the world’s busiest travel corridors in the nation’s most-populous state, boasting the world’s fifth-largest economy.

“In general, there has been a lack of innovation in the transportation sector,” said Ali-Imran Tayeb, who earned bachelor’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Physics in December from SJSU. “The cars, planes and boats keep getting better, but we haven’t seen new forms of transportation systems. We learned a lot from the (2018 Hyperloop Pod) competition. There’s such a strong need for this type of travel.”

Tayeb co-founded the Spartan Hyperloop project three years ago and leads its Mechanical team. In July, he was among a team of 20 SJSU undergraduates and recent graduates who took their Spartan Hyperloop magnetic levitation creation to participate in the 2018 Hyperloop Pod competition sponsored by Space Exploration Technologies Corp., better known as SpaceX. Headquartered in the Los Angeles suburb of Hawthorne, SpaceX is most known for its space-exploration technology and rocket launches. It was founded and is led by Elon Musk, also the high-profile CEO and co-founder of the Fremont-based upscale electric car manufacturer, Tesla Inc.

This version of Spartan Hyperloop — a 6-1/2-foot long, 2-1/2-foot wide, 2-foot high, 320-pound creation composed of an aluminum frame, battery packs and high-speed spinning magnets among other elements — was built to half the scale of the SUV-sized vehicle envisioned to transport passengers and cargo. Design of the SJSU project beat out 100 other entries from universities worldwide, making SJSU one of only two teams to qualify for the SpaceX competition in the levitation category. Unfortunately, a technical failure on the road disqualified the team from competing against the other qualifying team, University of California, Santa Barbara.

Thomas Baker, an SJSU senior majoring in Electrical Engineering who heads up the Spartan Hyperloop Electrical team, said mechanical problems affected the prototype, but work will continue to perfect Spartan Hyperloop.

Baker said a perfected Spartan Hyperloop design would operate by taking advantage of the low-friction environment of the tube to generate enough speed to cause levitation.

He said the SJSU team has had up to 60 members. Funding for the project came mostly from the university and corporate sponsors, but $2,200 was also raised through a Crowdfunding campaign supported by University Advancement, Baker said.

“We’ve worked really hard to get students from all of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) disciplines involved, as well as business and marketing,” Baker said.

SJSU has participated in all three years of the SpaceX competition, he said, having previously been a runner-up in design, before building Spartan Hyperloop this year.

Musk’s initial Hyperloop concept, introduced in 2012, included reduced-pressure tubes providing pathways for pressured capsules propelled by linear induction motors and axial compressors riding on air bearings. A proposed 350-mile route connecting California’s two-largest population and business centers would roughly parallel Interstate 5 through the Central Valley. Another of Musk’s companies, The Boring Co., has also proposed smaller-scale projects in Los Angeles, Chicago, the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area, with a possible extension to New York.

One study put the cost of building the Bay Area-to-Los Angeles Hyperloop connection at $6 billion for a passengers-only option and $7.5 billion for a larger tube that would carry both people and vehicles. Plans to build a high-speed rail line, already under construction in the San Joaquin Valley, are now estimated to cost $77 billion to connect the Bay Area to Los Angeles, and up to $98 billion to complete the full 800-mile system.

Baker considers the Hyperloop system – still on the drawing boards — a better deal.

“I have reservations about high-speed rail, which is using older technology and requires lots of infrastructure costs,” he said, noting contrasts in cost and environmental impacts. “We would be able to line (the tube) with solar panels and use the resulting energy for local communities along the line or give back to the grid.”

SJSU Celebrates Innovation Design Collaborative with Partners

By Melissa Anderson

On June 8, in the basement of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library, students, educators and industry leaders mingled together at the soft launch of San Jose State University’s new Innovation Design Collaborative.

The lower level of the library, which houses the first public materials library as well as shelves of periodicals, is now home to a new interdisciplinary innovation space for students and faculty to work together, and test out ideas.

“A few weeks ago, you would have seen a very different space,” said Paul Lanning, vice president for University Advancement. “This is just the start and we are excited to unveil it for all of you. This is a glimpse of what is to come, not just for San Jose State University, but all the representatives here. This is an interdisciplinary space to work together on every type of unit imaginable.”

The IDC started several years ago when representatives from the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering connected with a handful of industry partners to discuss ways the university could better prepare students to meet evolving workforce needs. The group grew to include more than 30 industry and educational partners from off campus as well as campus representatives from each college. Now in addition to the advisory group, the university also has a dedicated space for students and faculty to work together to incubate ideas and gain just the type of experience needed to succeed in Silicon Valley after graduation.

During the event, teams of students and recent graduates showcased prototypes of products that are close to launching or ready for national competition. The teams included representatives from different degree programs and colleges who have grappled with technical development, legal questions and marketing.

One team was on the verge of launching a beta version of a digital jukebox that will allow multiple users to develop playlists at gatherings that include songs that appeal to the group – unlike existing music applications that are controlled by individuals.

Another team created an application called Gratis Food that will connect food vendors with excess products to students with food insecurities. The team, which won best overall innovation at SJSU’s Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge and were selected to participate in ZinnStarter through SJSU’s IDEAS program, moved from a nonprofit to a profit model that will be more easily scalable.

“We’ve created a beta version and we plan to expand to community colleges and universities,” said Raghav Gupta, founder and project manager of Gratis Food.

The final team demonstrated Spartan Hyperloop, a magnetic levitation system that they have entered into the SpaceX 2018 Hyperloop Pod Competition, on July 22.

After the networking hour and lunch, President Mary Papazian welcomed the more than 30 industry and educational partners who attended the event, including Joe Pinto, senior VP Technical Services at Cisco Systems, Donna Bell, director of Ford Innovation Research and Innovation Labs, Mark Roenigk, head of hardware at Facebook, Jennifer Andaluz, the co-founder and executive director of Downtown College Prep, and Andrea Schwarz, founding Bay Area executive director of Braven.

“One of the wonderful things about today is that our various programs across the campus are represented and that is where a lot of the magic happens,” Papazian said. “San Jose State University is a place to innovate as evidenced by the Paseo Public Prototyping Challenge and Festival and the Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge, our excellent interdisciplinary academic programs, and the high rate at which our graduates are hired in the Bay Area.”

Pinto, of Cisco, said the IDC is an opportunity for SJSU to play a different role than just supplying talent.

“Silicon Valley is unique with intellectual property, venture funding and a group of universities in an area that people from around the world want to come to innovate and design,” he said. “We are strengthening the ecosystem.”

Dean Sheryl Ehrman, of the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering, spoke about how important collaboration across disciplines is in grounding innovation with the critical thinking that comes from “cross pollination” with others in the humanities, applied health sciences, business or other perspectives.

While SJSU has a vision for an innovation wing that will become part of a science and innovation complex on campus, the library space is helping to increase capacity for interdisciplinary learning immediately.

“Why are we in the library?” asked University Library Dean Tracy Elliott. “This is where multidisciplinary work happens—the university, the community, all of you use the space. We have all disciplines represented throughout the building.”

January 2018 Newsletter: Media Takes Notice of SJSU at SV Auto Show

While automotive engineers and designers wowed audiences with the “future of drive,” San Jose State University engineering students impressed visitors with their own innovative built-from-scratch vehicle designs at the SV Auto Show Jan. 4-7. The students displayed Formula One cars, a quadricycle, a golf cart run on solar power and an electric race car. The San Jose Mercury News highlighted the student cars in an article.

January 2018 Newsletter: Students Prompt Discussions on Housing Crisis

Laura Cayabyag, '17 Sociology, right, served as president of student organization COOP SJSU and poses for a photo with the group's faculty advisor Michael Fallon.(Photo: James Tensuan, '15 Journalism)

Laura Cayabyab, ’17 Sociology, right, served as president of student organization COOP SJSU and poses for a photo with the group’s faculty advisor Michael Fallon.(Photo: James Tensuan, ’15 Journalism)

By David Goll

Like many students graduating in the Bay Area, housing concerns have often been on the mind of Laura Cayabyab, ’17 Sociology. While she said her parents have a home in Silicon Valley in which she is welcome, her greatest academic and personal passion has been to find solutions for the growing dilemma of homelessness in one of the nation’s most expensive housing market.

A December graduate, Cayabyab turned her concerns into action, serving as president of COOP SJSU for the past year. The student organization addresses pressing social issues on campus and the greater San Jose community. She and fellow COOP officials, including Ryan Eckford, have spearheaded drives on campus to collect clothing and hygiene items to distribute to the homeless.

“I’ve talked to a lot of people, many fellow students, about their housing situation,”Cayabyab said. “For those who don’t have parents who live around here, I would say nine out of 10 have told me they will be looking for work outside the Bay Area. Even for people with technical degrees, they often can only get contract work with high-tech Silicon Valley companies.”

Cayabyab said a 2016 study revealed about 300 of SJSU’s 33,000 students are homeless—the definition includes students who live in cars, on the streets or who “couch surf”. The number of homeless people in San Jose on any given night is estimated at 5,000. The Bay Area’s largest city has among the highest rents in the nation—according to website Rent Jungle, the average monthly cost for a one-bedroom apartment in San Jose in November was $2,430.

As one of her last official acts as president of the student organization, Cayabyab and Eckford helped organize and lead a discussion on the region’s housing crisis last month at an On The Table event, sponsored by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF). The nonprofit organization is the world’s largest philanthropic community foundation, with $8 billion in assets under management. Two dozen students, staff, faculty and lecturers attended, along with representatives of the City of San Jose and Santa Clara County.

Cayabyab and Eckford also received assistance in organizing the event from Carol Stephenson of People Acting in Community Together (PACT), a multi-faith, multi-ethnic grassroots social justice organization.

“We asked people who attended to think about housing instability in the Bay Area,” the recent graduate said. “How it affects them and others in their lives, what are the good things about housing in the Bay Area, but also how we can make it much better.”

About a week later, the COOP students attended another On The Table event at the foundation’s Mountain View headquarters. Leaders of community organizations from throughout the Bay Area attended.

“It was really interesting to see people from throughout the region talk about the programs they’ve had to improve housing instability for years,” Cayabyab said. “It’s interesting to hear what keeps them going.”

Michael Fallon, who retired as adjunct professor of sociology at SJSU in June, has been involved in the COOP organization at the faculty level in recent years. He said the group was founded to address pressing social issues in Silicon Valley, primarily focused on housing the homeless.

Fallon also served as Director of the Center for Community Learning and Leadership at SJSU, which has focused its efforts on cleaning up the pollution of Coyote Creek as a result of the former homeless encampment of several hundred people that was closed down three years ago. Known as the Jungle, the infamous camp became a symbol of the haves and have-nots in Silicon Valley.

Fallon said he has been happy to be a catalyst himself in sparking social awareness and the ability to devise practical solutions to seemingly intractable societal ills.

“I am an educator, first and foremost,” he said. “I educate students in how to address critical social issues and hope my students will engage with the community and participate in the solutions.”