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.”

Trauma Transcends Generations for Refugees

Yvonne Kwan Yvonne Kwan poses for a portrait on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018. (Photo: Jim Gensheimer)

Assistant Professor Yvonne Kwan poses for a portrait on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018. (Photo: Jim Gensheimer)

Yvonne Kwan, a second-year assistant professor of Asian American studies in the Department of Sociology and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, grew up in a working-class southern California city with a sizeable Latinx community. She said growing up, she learned little about Asian American history or culture during her K-12 education. It was not until she took an ethnic studies course in college that this first-generation Asian American began to feel connected to her cultural heritage. She changed her major from molecular biology to ethnic studies.

When she began dating a boyfriend who was Cambodian American, now her husband, she began to learn about Cambodian culture and the experience of refugees who lived through genocide to help her gain an understanding of her in-laws. But she also found a fertile area for research. Kwan’s scholarly work has provided enough insight to fill a book; she is in the process of finalizing a manuscript entitled, “Afterlives of Diaspora: Cambodian American Trauma and Memory.”

“Some children were born in refugee camps, but they are too young to remember,” Kwan said.

Her book posits that while social trauma may not be verbalized or articulated, children of survivors can still develop the capacity to both identify with and experience the pain of previous generations.

“The trauma of genocide can have an effect decades after the initial event,” she said.

Kwan’s research has found that while many of the Cambodian refugees who lived through the genocide do not talk about their experiences, the transmission of trauma happens through the silences and fragments within the family.

“For the older generation there is so much pain and a lot of these people are Buddhist so suffering is a part of life and they don’t see the point in rehashing it,” Kwan said. “The next generation is using anything they can find to fill the void. They read a ton of books or listen to other people (outside their families) tell the story.”

Since joining the SJSU campus in fall 2017, Kwan has been active on a task force that aims to provide more support for Asian Pacific Islander Desi (South Asian) American (APIDA) students. The task force, which includes faculty, staff and students, aims to determine what resources will be most helpful to students with these cultural identities as well as how to break down myths about the groups.

Both from her research and early work on the task force, Kwan said she sees a need to connect students to resources, whether it be helping them navigate academic advising or providing mental health services in a space where they feel safe.

“Students don’t always know what they need and sometimes they don’t know what to ask for,” Kwan said.

OT Student Named as CSU Trustee Scholar for 2018

Suzanne Walter

Suzanne Walter

Suzanne Walter’s rocky childhood was shaped by foster care, welfare and poverty. Knowing she would not have financial support for college, she started working and saving for her college education at the age of 12. Now experiencing her dream of higher education, she is a graduate student at San José State University studying occupational therapy, a profession that will allow her to pass down her life lessons and strengthen her community.

The California State University has selected Walter as one of its Trustee Emeritus William Hauck and Padget Kaiser Scholar for 2018. The CSU Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement is given each year to students who demonstrate superior academic performance, personal accomplishments, community service, and financial need.

Suzanne’s empathy for others and drive to help are the core of who she is. She served a year in AmeriCorps, co-led a vocational skills program for at-risk youth, started an after-school program and for years, provided home aid to seniors. She recently accepted a leadership position on the board of the Student Occupational Therapy Association, and was invited to join the honor society of Phi Kappa Phi for earning a 3.92 GPA her first semester back in school.

MY EMPATHY FOR OTHERS AND DRIVE TO HELP ARE AT THE CORE OF WHO I AM AS A PERSON.

A career in occupational therapy will allow Suzanne to focus on helping people overcome many of the same health and personal struggles she has faced in her own life.

 

Keck Foundation Grant Establishes Freshman Research Initiative

SJSU professors will are using a grant from the WM Keck Foundation to create a freshmen research initiative. Clockwise from back left: Assistant Professor Alberto Rascón, Jr., Professor Resa Kelly, the program evaluator; Professor Daryl Eggers; Assistant Professor Laura Miller Conrad; Mallory Kato, the program manager; and Professor Lionel Cheruzel, the principal investigator on the grant. (Photo: Jim Gensheimer)

SJSU professors are using a grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation to create a freshmen research initiative. Clockwise from back left: Assistant Professor Alberto Rascón, Jr., Professor Resa Kelly, the program evaluator; Professor Daryl Eggers; Assistant Professor Laura Miller Conrad; Mallory Kato, the program manager; and Professor Lionel Cheruzel, the principal investigator on the grant. (Photo: Jim Gensheimer)

The new Freshman Initiative: Research to Engage Students (F.I.R.E.S) will launch this year and is poised to help the university advance both its research and student success missions. Enabled by a $325,000 grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation, this new program aims to engage undergraduate students in scientific research from the very beginning of their time at San Jose State University.

The team spearheading this program includes four chemistry professors from the College of Science with experimental research laboratories: Professor Lionel Cheruzel, the principal investigator on the grant, Assistant Professors Laura Miller Conrad and Alberto Rascón, Jr., Professor Daryl Eggers, Professor Resa Kelly, the program evaluator along with Mallory Kato, the program manager.

Cheruzel and his colleagues strive to usher in a research-driven educational culture by introducing first-year students to the benefits of research. In order to do so, an introduction to research course (Chem 190) will be used to foster student’s spirit of discovery and train them in the basic skills necessary to excel in a research environment.

At the end of the course, students will work directly with two professors’ laboratories in two-week research streams. During these streams, students will have the opportunity to look closely at the various research questions being investigated, perform cutting-edge research, and learn how to be part of the scientific community.

Cheruzel believes the experience will motivate these students to [continue] on in one of the various research laboratories throughout the remainder of their undergraduate career to supplement their degree.

“There are benefits to having students who can stay on for three or four years doing research,” Cheruzel said. “Some of my most productive students have come straight out of Chem 1A.”

Within each of the research laboratories, the professors have seen how engaging in lab work and publishing their findings in notable journals has benefitted their students. After applying their education to real-world problems, demonstrating a persistence to training and developing stronger connections with faculty, these research students not only leave SJSU with a bachelor’s degree but with a skillset that distinguishes them from their competition.

“They are highly marketable,” Cheruzel said, noting that many of his former students have gone on to prestigious graduate schools or started careers with prominent biotech companies.

Based in Los Angeles, the W. M. Keck Foundation was established in 1954 by the late W. M. Keck, founder of the Superior Oil Company.  The Foundation’s grant making is focused primarily on pioneering efforts in the areas of medical research, science and engineering and undergraduate education.  The Foundation also maintains a Southern California Grant Program that provides support for the Los Angeles community, with a special emphasis on children and youth.  For more information, please visit www. wmkeck.org.