Celebrating AAPI Month, Rising Star in Software Engineering, The CoE Fab Four and more!

SJSU Alumni Magazine Spring 2024 coverMagazine – Hot off the press

Excited to unveil the latest issue of our College of Engineering magazine!

Explore out-of-this-world research to see where the next-generation aerospace engineers will take us as we aim for the stars.

Read the full story now!

Student Profile – Arjun Sudheer

Growing up in his hometown of Cupertino, California, Arjun Sudheer, a rising talent in Software Engineering, is not only driven by academic pursuits, but also by a genuine passion for problem-solving and innovation.

Arjun’s fascination with software engineering began in his freshman year of high school when he first experimented with coding. Despite his initial challenges, Arjun found himself drawn to the intricacies of programming. He recalls the thrill of successfully coding his own games, like golf  and a brick-breaker arcade game, which ignited his spark for coding.

His passion only deepened when he joined his school’s robotics club, where he discovered the real-world applications of software in bringing robots to life. From programming robots to performing the precise actions needed to optimize code for efficiency, Arjun found himself captivated by the reach of software engineering into the real world, not just on a screen.

Arjun SudheerSan Jose State University (SJSU) is recognized for our outstanding Engineering college and hands-on approach to education, so it was the perfect fit for Arjun’s aspirations. Our strong industry connections and vast undergraduate research opportunities further solidified his choice. In his first year alone, Arjun has actively engaged in multiple research programs, such as “Object Detection” and “Autonomous Car Security,” allowing him to gain experience and interact more closely with professors and masters students.

Arjun’s academic journey received a significant boost with the four-year Jane G. Evans Merit Scholarship. It not only alleviates financial stress but also fuels his motivation to excel further. With tuition fees covered, Arjun can focus wholeheartedly on his studies and pursue his academic and professional goals without the burden of financial worries that many college students struggle with.

Beyond academics, Arjun is deeply involved in his community. As a longtime member of the Boy Scouts of America, he has honed leadership skills and learned the value of giving back. He has volunteered in environmental cleanup initiatives and led service projects, including cooking a hot meal for homeless people.

Looking ahead, Arjun envisions a future where he can make a meaningful impact in the software industry. With a keen interest in artificial intelligence (AI) and cybersecurity, he aims to leverage his skills to contribute to advancements in these fields. In the age of AI, he is especially interested in ensuring online privacy and enhancing cybersecurity measures so everyone is protected and can browse the web safely.

Like most students, Arjun wonders how he compares to the rest of the class, wondering if his performance is good enough. However, with small achievements from his hard work, Arjun was able to see his full-class performance, which boosted his self-confidence and erased his doubts.

To those facing similar challenges or who are about to join college this fall, Arjun offers  three simple but profound pieces  of advice:
Embrace new experiences by joining clubs or organizations.

Persevere through setbacks- when you don’t know how to do something, don’t limit yourself because of it.
Believe in yourself that you can overcome these setbacks and good things will follow.

In Arjun Sudheer, we see not just a student, but a power of passion, perseverance, and community spirit. As he continues to chart his course in software engineering, one thing is certain—Arjun Sudheer is a name to watch out for in the world of technology and innovation.

CoE Students Chosen for Cisco Dream Team

Cisco Dream team graphic

Recently, four SJSU College of Engineering (CoE) students were invited to be a part of Cisco’s Dream Team. Bryan Pham, Khin San, Tritan To and Binh Vo took their Engineering Technology coursework to the next level by being chosen in a statewide search, and were recommended by lecturer, Richard Grotegut.  These four individuals participated in setting up the network capabilities of a recent Salesforce event at the Moscone center in San Francisco, CA.

Each Dream Team project offers students the opportunity to learn while helping to build the networking infrastructure at large-scale events under the guidance of industry professionals. Past events have included international Cisco Live! events, NFL events such as the season opener kick-off game and Super Bowl, the Global Citizen Festival, The Open Championship, and other major events and conferences.

As members of the Dream Team, the fabulous four worked on setting up network devices such as routers, switches, access points, antennas, and wireless Local Area Networks (LAN) controllers. They ensured that the physical connections between the devices were correct and connected to the appropriate virtual LANs. Additionally, the team learned how the network engineers monitor device status, configured them, troubleshoot issues, and set up networks for keynote streaming.

“Embarking on a one-week internship at the Moscone Center for the Trailblazer TDX 2024 event with Straight Up Technologies was nothing short of a revelation,” said Bryan Pham.  “As a proud member of the Dream Team, the experience was a symphony of innovation and hands-on learning.”

“I gained a clear idea of how professional networking teams function and the dynamics within such environments. It was a chance to see firsthand the inner workings of a technology company, which was eye-opening and inspiring,” commented Binh Vo.

Khin San added, “The next big thing for me is to continue expanding my skills and knowledge I have established through the Dream Team experience. I aim to pursue further hands-on opportunities and professional development, possibly exploring more about network engineering in event settings.”

The Dream Team opportunity certainly shattered the concept of what an Information Technology (IT) job is all about, proving that IT is not confined to desks, but thrives in a live event environment.  Congratulations to the Fab Four and keep rocking those events!

AAPI Heritage Month

AAPI inventions

Image courtesy of Smithsonian magazine and IDEA.TED.COM

In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPI), we aim to spotlight two innovations originating from Native Hawaiians. One enriches Hawaiian culture, while the other serves to safeguard its traditions.

Born in 1953 in Hawaii, Nainoa Thompson was deeply influenced by his Polynesian heritage, which revered the ocean as a source of sustenance, exploration, and connection. His journey into navigation began in the 1970s when he became a student of master navigator Mau Piailug from the tiny Micronesian island of Satawal. Under Piailug’s guidance, Thompson learned the intricate art of wayfinding, a traditional Polynesian method of navigating the seas using natural signs like the stars, waves, winds, and birds.

Thompson’s crowning achievement came with the development of the star compass, a tool that encapsulates centuries of Polynesian navigational knowledge into a portable and practical device. At its core, the star compass is a physical representation of the celestial sphere, allowing navigators to identify the positions of stars relative to their own location on the Earth’s surface.

It is made up of a circular wooden or stone board marked with cardinal directions and celestial reference points. By aligning specific stars with their corresponding points on the compass, navigators can determine their heading and track their course across the open ocean.

The key to the star compass’s effectiveness lies in the intricate understanding of celestial phenomena and their relationship to terrestrial navigation. Polynesian navigators like Thompson possess a deep knowledge of star patterns, celestial arcs, and the subtle nuances of the night sky, allowing them to navigate with astonishing accuracy over vast distances compared to regular compasses.

Joseph Kekuku, a Hawaiian musician that forever changed the landscape of music by inventing the steel guitar. Born in 1874 on the island of Oahu, Kekuku’s early years were steeped in the rich musical traditions of his native land. It was during his youth, that he stumbled upon this invention, some say he was experimenting with a steel bolt while others say he was playing with his comb, while the process was lost but the final product didn’t.

Kekuku refined his technique and developed what would become known as the steel guitar. Unlike its traditional counterpart, the steel guitar features raised strings and a metal bar or slide, allowing players to produce a distinctive sliding sound that evokes the mournful cries of the Hawaiian islands.

The steel guitar operates on principles similar to those of its acoustic counterpart, with strings vibrating to produce sound. However, the addition of a metal slide or bar enables players to vary the pitch and sustain of notes by sliding smoothly along the strings. This distinctive sliding technique, coupled with the instrument’s raised strings, lends the steel guitar its characteristic sound and sets it apart from conventional guitars.

Meet AI Expert from Silicon Valley! Tech Jobs, Layoffs, Cybersecurity! Ft. Prof. Ahmed Banafa

Prof Ahmed Banafa on AI screenshotRecently Professor Ahmed Banafa was interviewed by @Singh in USA, a software engineer with over 1 million subscribers on his YouTube channel. Covering all subjects regarding AI from its history, its operating system, how it is being used, and how it impacts so much in our daily lives now compared to the past.

Watch the full interview now


Student Overcomes His Own Doubts, Scholarships Closing Soon, Inventions That Defy Disabilities, and More!

Student Profile – Spencer Guinther

Spencer GuintherSpencer Vernon Guinther, a graduating senior from Pleasanton, California, has defied his own doubts to carve a path of determination and success in the field of engineering.

Originally uncertain about his academic direction and contemplating a business degree, Spencer doubted his intellectual capacity for STEM disciplines. However, one day Spencer’s friend recommended he just give it a try, and it soon changed his whole path. He selected Mechanical Engineering for no reason, but realized it was the right choice due to the joy he found in problem-solving and a deep love for science fiction.

With SJSU’s engaging engineering program and proximity to Silicon Valley, Spencer started his educational journey, fueled by a desire to challenge his perceived limitations. His commitment to academia was recognized by the Emma E. Legg Memorial Scholarship, easing his financial burdens and letting him immerse himself fully in his studies and extracurricular pursuits.

Throughout college, Spencer’s involvement in the Spartan Racing Baja club not only honed his engineering skills but also cultivated his leadership and organizational abilities. He found a sense of community among like-minded peers, who are hard-working, genuine, and easy to connect with.

Despite struggling with self-doubt about his mental capability at a young age, Spencer’s dedication pushes him to move forward and confront his insecurities head-on. To him, confidence isn’t everything—it’s about self-belief rather than external perceptions. He dismantled the barriers that hindered his potential, recognizing failure as an essential component of growth. His mantra—”I can do whatever I want”—became a guiding outlook, empowering him to overcome obstacles and pursue his dreams relentlessly.

Looking ahead, Spencer envisions a career focused on developing thermal systems for sustainable flight and space exploration, utilizing alternative fuel sources for environmental benefit. Ultimately, Spencer aims to take on a leadership role, combining his engineering expertise with business acumen to guide a team toward achieving this common goal.

Reflecting on his journey, Spencer emphasizes the importance of trying new things and seizing every opportunity for personal growth. There is no way of knowing what you like until you try it; don’t limit yourself just because you think, limit yourself because you know.

As Spencer gears up to enter the next chapter of his journey and become an SJSU alumnus, one thing remains certain—his resilience will continue to propel him toward new heights of achievement and innovation.

CoE Students Visit Maxar Space Systems

CoE Students Visit Maxar Space SystemsOn April 19th, students from Professor Vlad Ionescu’s Manufacturing Analysis and Management-Tech 147 class enjoyed a visit to Maxar Space Systems at the company’s Palo Alto headquarters, exploring the intricacies of advanced manufacturing processes within the aerospace industry. Spearheaded by Brett Deutscher, the Director of Assembly, Integration and Testing, the tour carefully examined production methodologies, interdisciplinary team dynamics, rigorous quality control measures, and safety protocols associated with stationary communication satellites. Additionally, students were treated to a presentation on the future of satellites by Maxar’s Vice President of Spacecraft Assembly, Integration, and Test.

Professor Ionescu highlighted key aspects such as the fixed layout of manufacturing flows, the utilization of in-house evaluation fixtures and test beds, adherence to clean room standards, and the unique quality challenges inherent in constructing and deploying communication satellites within the vast expansion of 20,000 miles in space. In the end, students were able to observe a satellite that was launched in January 2024 reach its final destination.

The visit to Maxar afforded invaluable insights into the practical applications of manufacturing principles within the aerospace domain. Students were grateful for the chance to engage with professionals at Maxar, fostering potential internship and career prospects within the esteemed organization. Witnessing the satellite assembly process firsthand left an incredible impression on the students, motivating them to work for a phenomenal company like Maxar in the future and put what they’ve learned at SJSU into the world of aerospace.

SJSU College of Engineering Aviation Students Visit Local Middle School


Recently, students from the SJSU College of Engineering (CoE) Aviation program were invited to Cabrillo Middle School in Santa Clara to participate in the school’s Career Day.  Senior aviation students Alex Sandy, Jayden Chow and Sierra Brannon-Young participated in the event, and gave presentations on the Aviation industry and opportunities within while also promoting the CoE Aviation Program. With the assistance of the CoE aviation students, the Cabrillo Middle School pupils had a chance to utilize simulators to get a sense of what it is like to fly airplanes.

The event was well received by the school staff who appreciated the efforts of  the CoE aviation students.  SJSU CoE aviation students and faculty are always willing to promote this program at various events throughout the year.

Diversity Theme – Disability

Technology has transformed disability assistance, introducing inventions that empower individuals with disabilities to lead more independent lives. From mobility aids to communication tools, these developments have reshaped accessibility and inclusivity. Here are some groundbreaking examples of inventions designed to enhance the lives of individuals with disabilities.

Inventions to assist those with disabilities

Standing Wheelchair:

For individuals with mobility impairments, traditional wheelchairs have long been indispensable tools for navigating the world. There are about 650 million people globally who depend on them. The traditional wheelchair was invented by Stephan Farfler in 1655, and in 1975, Valutec brought it to new heights by making the first standing wheelchair. People now can transition from a seated to a standing position with ease, offering a multitude of physical and psychological benefits. By enabling users to stand upright, it promotes better circulation, improved muscle tone, and enhanced bone density. Using this invention Dr. Ted Rummel, a surgeon who is paralyzed from the waist down, was able to perform surgery on a patient using this invention. Not only was he able to achieve his dream using the invention but it also inspired others like him to pursue their dreams.

Screen Reader/Text-to-Speech Technology:

An estimated 49.1 million people worldwide are visually impaired, and with today’s information all being online, viewed through a screen, it creates a learning barrier for those people.. Nevertheless, as technology advances, so do inventions with text-to-speech and screen readers, making information more accessible to individuals with visual or reading impairments. In 1968, Noriko Umeda invented the first English text-to-speech system, which has built a foundation for the advancement of technology we see today. Text-to-speech (TTS) technology works by converting written text into spoken language utilizing a synthesis process that interprets the text’s linguistic structure and produces corresponding audible speech. Screen readers, on the other hand, utilize TTS to convert on-screen text into speech. Screen readers interact with the graphical user interface on devices, interpreting elements such as text, buttons, and menus, and converting them into spoken output, allowing users to navigate and interact with digital interfaces through auditory feedback.

Hearing Aids:

Hearing loss can profoundly impact communication, social interaction, and overall quality of life. There are more than 1.5 billion individuals with some sort of hearing disability in the world right now. Fortunately, hearing aids have transformed their quality of life. Hearing aids work by amplifying sound vibrations and delivering them into the ear. They consist of a microphone that picks up sound, an amplifier that increases the volume of the sound, a receiver that sends the amplified sound into the ear, and sometimes a small computer chip that uses digital signal processing algorithms to filter out selective sounds and enhance speech clarity. The first electric hearing aid was invented by Miller Reese Hutchison in 1898, utilizing carbon transmitters to amplify sound for individuals with hearing impairments.

In the 1920s, more electric hearing aids were invented, which used vacuum tubes to amplify sound. However, these tubes were typically fragile and hot, making them not an ideal option.  The last ten years have seen significant advancements in hearing aid performance thanks to improvements in directional microphones which amplifies the direction of certain sounds more than others. Perhaps the biggest change in current hearing aids has been the incorporation of wireless/Bluetooth connectivity, making them capable of connecting wirelessly to cell phones, computers, televisions and other devices.

Objective-Driven AI: Optimizing for Specific Goals in a Complex World – Prof. Ahmed Banafa

Objective-Driven AIIn the world of artificial intelligence, a new paradigm has emerged that is revolutionizing the way we approach AI system design and deployment. Objective-driven AI, as it is known, represents a fundamental shift in how we conceptualize and develop intelligent systems.

Rather than pursuing the elusive goal of general artificial intelligence (GAI), objective-driven AI focuses on optimizing for specific, well-defined objectives. This approach is both practical and strategic, as the demand for AI systems that can reliably and efficiently achieve particular goals has grown exponentially.

At the heart of objective-driven AI is the principle of constrained optimization. Unlike general-purpose AI systems, objective-driven AI models are designed and trained to optimize for a specific, measurable objective, subject to a set of constraints.

Read the full article…

Spartan Engineers: Student Profile, Engineering Showcase, Diversity Month and more!

Student Profile – Deema Saddik

Deema SaddikDeema Saddik, a Junior in Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) at San Jose State University (SJSU), stands out not only for her academic journey but also for her passion for engineering and commitment to community service. Growing up right here in San Jose, Deema’s journey into engineering was inspired by her natural affinity for math and science. But the event that ignited the spark was when she became a volleyball coaching assistant in high school and started analyzing how to improve the team’s performance. She soon discovered a love for problem-solving and a desire to make meaningful contributions to society through process and system improvements.

She always imagined going to a school far away from home so San Jose State’s College of Engineering was initially not in Deema’s plans. However, after touring various universities, she saw what SJSU had to offer: hands-on programs and proximity to industry leaders in the Bay Area.

The decision to remain in the Bay Area came with financial stress which was eased by the Dale and Sue Missimer Engineering Scholarship. Deema is grateful for the scholarship’s support.

Reflecting on her college experience, Deema emphasizes the importance of time management and prioritization. Lessons she learned through balancing academics in the transition from high school to college. The advice she would give to her past self would be not to strive for perfection, but rather excellence, Perfection is unattainable and comes with the risk of your well-being. Excellence, however, reflects more on the real-world setting of what you already have and know. She also advises incoming students to embrace self-discovery, seek guidance, and trust their instincts when navigating major life decisions.

Outside of academics, Deema is actively involved in community service. She has been volunteering at a local Sunday school for the past six years. As a Muslim, she believes that everyone is a brother, a sister, and a family. This has been reflected in her classroom, fostering a collaborative and safe environment for students to have open discussions, explore their identities, and connect with one another.

Looking ahead, Deema envisions a career where she can merge her engineering expertise with her passion for social impact. Her dream job involves working with medical devices in the healthcare industry to help improve the diagnostic process and quality of care for patients.

Deema’s story reminds us of embracing uncertainty as an opportunity for growth and self-realization. She advises others to seek guidance, reflect on personal values, and to have trust in oneself.

2024 SJSU Engineering Showcase Recap

Engineering Showcase Recap

On Monday, April 15, the College of Engineering (CoE) held its annual Showcase where alumni and industry friends engaged with the next generation of talent, innovation, research, and designs. The Showcase event was a part of SJSU’s Research Week 2024, which ends on Friday, April 18. The focus of the CoE event was on fostering connections and highlighting the amazing projects students have been working on.

On display at the event were: algorithms for self-forming DNA meshes, facial recognition models for identifying various types of autism, materials used to create a buoyant cement canoe, quantum computing, stackable cube clusters for personal cloud storage, urban forestry data collection, smart farming monitoring, and so much more.

The Spartan SR-14 electric car won as the most engaging project, and the Mechatronics and Control System Design of a Bimanual Hand Exoskeleton with a Sensorized Soft Glove captured the most innovative category win. Both of these projects fall under the Mechanical Engineering department umbrella. Congratulations to both teams!

Alumni and friend of the CoE, Tim Li, received the award of distinction which recognizes an individual who has achieved superior professional accomplishments and applauds the recipient’s outstanding citizenship through community or professional service. Well done, Tim!

A huge thank you to the sponsors: The Beall Family Foundation, San Jose Water, and Salas O’Brien for their contributions and commitment to the College of Engineering that made the 2024 Showcase possible!

Diversity Month

Nergis Mavalvala

Image courtesy of MIT, Department of Physics

Nergis Mavalvala’s journey to Cambridge University speaks volumes of perseverance, passion, and the pursuit of knowledge. As a Pakistani-American astrophysicist, Mavalvala’s groundbreaking work in the detection of gravitational waves has earned her international acclaim.

Born and raised in Pakistan, Mavalvala’s early years were shaped by a curiosity about the cosmos. Educated at the Convent of Jesus and Mary, she pursued her passion for physics and astronomy at Wellesley College in the United States, under the mentorship of Rainer Weiss at MIT.

Mavalvala’s contribution to the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) project revolutionized our understanding of the universe and helped engineers to develop spacing equipment better. Over two decades, her relentless efforts led to the historic observation of gravitational waves in 2015, when two black holes collided, confirming Einstein’s theory of relativity, which proposes that gravity arises from the curvature of spacetime.

Perhaps equally as remarkable as her scientific achievements is Mavalvala’s advocacy for academic and inclusion in STEM fields. As an openly queer woman of Pakistani descent, she has shattered stereotypes and defied societal expectations, serving as a role model for aspiring scientists from underrepresented backgrounds. Mavalvala stated, “I grew up in a family where the stereotypical gender roles were not really observed. So I grew up thinking women can, must, and should do anything and everything.” She also believes that access to education is how you can find who you are, do what you love, and contribute to society anywhere in the world for anyone.

Mavalvala’s impact extends far beyond the laboratory. Today as the Dean of MIT’s School of Science, she is dedicated to fostering an environment where all individuals, regardless of background or identity, can thrive and succeed. Her commitment to mentorship and advocacy has inspired countless students and researchers to pursue their passions.

In a world where scientific progress thrives on diversity, Mavalvala stands as a symbol, reminding us of the transformative power of inclusion. As we celebrate her achievements, let’s remember that embracing diverse perspectives is key to unlocking new dimensions in science and engineering.

5 Questions with Author, Educator, and Influencer Ahmed Banafa

5 Questions About AIDiscover Prof. Ahmed Banafa’s insightful perspective on the current state of artificial intelligence and its ethical considerations. From addressing bias and fairness to envisioning the impact on the future job market, he provides comprehensive insights into AI’s challenges and opportunities, from recommendations for minimizing bias in AI algorithms, to effectively integrating AI into education. Professor Banafa offers a roadmap for navigating AI technology’s complex landscape. Read the full article now.


Spartan Engineers: Student Profile, Young Inventions, BMES, CMAA Club and more!

Student Profile – Aryan Gaur

Aryan GaurMeet Aryan Gaur, class of 2027 freshman who just started his journey here at San Jose State University (SJSU) as a Computer Engineering student. Growing up in San Ramon, Aryan isn’t the first in his family to pursue higher education, but he’s determined to make a significant impact with his chosen major. Inspired by his father’s experiences living in a rural Indian community that lacked healthcare resources, Aryan aims to leverage his engineering skills to bring about positive change. His goal? To develop solutions that address the pressing needs of underserved communities, like the impactful work of Zipline, a company that he admires for utilizing drone technology for medical supply distribution in Africa.

Considering SJSU College of Engineering’s reputation for excellence and affordability, Aryan’s choice was easily made. Securing a scholarship that covers his tuition has been a significant relief, allowing him to focus wholeheartedly on his studies and future aspirations, especially during his freshman year. Reflecting on his journey thus far, he emphasizes the importance of truly believing in yourself in the face of doubt. When encountering moments of uncertainty, he learned to trust his abilities and remain unwavering in his pursuit of excellence.

Aryan envisions his future career tackling global challenges, particularly for the betterment of healthcare accessibility and technology innovation. He aspires to apply the skills taught at SJSU to meaningful projects that make a tangible difference in the lives of those in need. Outside the classroom, Aryan is passionate about lacrosse and hopes he will be given a chance to play on the SJSU school team, embracing opportunities for personal growth and community engagement.

For high school seniors and incoming freshmen, Aryan offers a piece of invaluable advice through his own experiences: prioritize building meaningful connections. Recognizing the significance of collaboration and support networks, he encourages incoming students to take advantage of opportunities available to them now, connecting with peers and mentors who can inspire and support them along their academic journey. Even though his journey is just starting here at SJSU, we believe Aryan’s future will be full of success all because of his determination, resilience, and the belief that with the right mindset, anything is possible.

Diversity Theme – Young Inventions

Diversity Banner

Have you ever considered the possibility that some of the world’s most groundbreaking inventions weren’t conceived by renowned leaders or seasoned engineers, but rather by high school seniors, 15-year-olds, or even 11-year-old prodigies? These innovations bear the mark of youthful brilliance, challenging the conventional notion of who can shape our world.

11 Amazing Things Invented by Kids

10 Children Who Are Changing the World, One Invention at a Time

Inventions by young people

Braille – Louis Braille, 15

Louis Braille, a French educator who lived from 1809 to 1852, is celebrated for his invention of the Braille system, a tactile reading and writing method for the visually impaired. Braille’s blindness was caused by a childhood accident at his father’s harness shop at the age of three.

The existing system at the time, presented by Captain Charles Barbier, was used by the French military for silent communication, using twelve dots to represent sounds. However, Braille saw the potential for a simpler and more efficient method. By the age of 15, he had invented the now-famous system using just six raised dots arranged in a rectangular cell. This ingenious design allowed users to decipher letters with a single finger touch. Each combination of dots represents a different letter, number, punctuation mark, or even musical symbol. For instance, the letter “a” is represented by a single raised dot in the top left position of the cell, while “b” adds another dot below the first.

The system revolutionized literacy for blind people, empowering them to read and write independently, and opening doors to education, employment, and a more fulfilling life. Today, Braille remains the foundation of written communication for the visually impaired, with adaptations for various languages across the globe.

The Water Talkie – Richie Stachowski, 11

Richie Stachowski’s journey of innovation does not know any age limit, despite being just 11 years old. Living in Orinda, California, Richie’s fascination with underwater exploration during a family vacation sparked the idea for his groundbreaking invention, the Water Talkie. While snorkeling in Hawaii, he wanted to talk with his father about the mesmerizing marine life he encountered, but couldn’t underwater.

Recognizing the absence of such a device, Richie was determined to create one. With limited resources, Richie used 267 dollars from his savings at 11 years old to fund the whole project. He conducted research, prototypes, and tests in his family’s swimming pool, and in the end, he perfected his invention. The Water Talkie is a revolutionary tool that enables clear communication between people while underwater.  The Water Talkie operates by utilizing a combination of a snorkel mouthpiece, a plastic cone, and innovative mechanisms to prevent water infiltration and transmit sound effectively underwater. The invention was later picked up by Toys R Us and mass-produced 50,000 units in his first pitch to the company where he asked them for the purchase order, underwater.

JustinKase – Justin Rivard, 18

Justin Rivard, a senior at Somerset High School in Wisconsin, noticed a potential flaw in his school’s emergency response plan to prevent intruders from entering the classroom, instructing students and faculties to barricade the door with heavy objects. This method did not consider if the lock had been broken, the shooter could have used force to push the object out and enter the classroom. This led Rivard to conceive the idea for the JustinKase. Fueled by his passion for hands-on work and problem-solving, Rivard crafted the device in his personal workshop, guided by his tech and engineering teacher, Eric Olson. The JustinKase functions as a door-locking mechanism designed to resist intruders and keep everyone in the classroom safe. Constructed from steel plates, handles, rods, and locking knobs, the device is lightweight yet offers heavyweight resistance. When inserted beneath a door, the plates extend outward and fit securely into the door jams. Any attempt to push the door open activates the mechanism, preventing it from budging even under immense pressure. Rivard’s dedication to safety led him to produce enough JustinKase devices for every classroom and meeting room in his high school, with additional orders from neighboring school districts. Through his innovative mindset and entrepreneurial spirit, Rivard demonstrates that impactful inventions can originate from the inventive minds of young individuals, showcasing the potential for innovation within the next generation of engineers and inventors.

BMES conference recap

SJSU BMES group photo

Image – Left to right: Dr. Patrick Jurney, Dr. Alessandro Bellofiore, Conference President – Christian Catano, Dr. Lin Jiang, Dr. Yun Wang and Dr. Abdulmelik Mohammed

The annual Bay Area Biomedical Conference took place on April 3, 2024, at the San Jose State University Student Union.  It serves as a forum to see the latest advances in medical device technologies and regulations. When biomedical engineering (BME) student volunteers were asked why they attended they all had a different reason to go. Shweta Raghuraman wanted to see what was out there in the BME industry.  Talia Litvin thought it would be a nice chance to meet people majoring in BME and also see what is happening in the industry. Emily Harvey wanted to expand her knowledge by attending the conference.  Akshaya Snankar Ganesh hoped to explore the BME area more intently.  They also wanted to network, get a better perspective of the biomedical industry, expand their knowledge on topics such as how artificial intelligence could be used in radiotherapy for cancer and stem cell research, and see all the different career paths the industry had to offer.

Derrick Richardson, a presenter at the 2023 conference who is currently working for Alumis, a company focused on immune-mediated diseases such as lupus and Crohn’s disease, saw the conference as a way of plugging into the SJSU community.  He also loves talking to students and having them pick his brains. Mr. Richardson has another connection with SJSU– he is a lecturer for the College of Engineering.  He was asked by Dr. Guna Selvaduray and Dr. Alessandro Bellofiore to teach a class on project management, which he started doing in 2021.

Daniel Ramos, a junior biomedical student who has been more focused on his studies in previous years at SJSU, saw the conference as a good way to get more involved in campus activities. “It is important for me as a BME student to come and support the department,” he said.  “I hope to network and get a chance to meet some of the presenters.”  Daniel plans to pursue a Ph.D. , so meeting individuals like Dr. Will Lioneweber, a presenter from Stanford, to get more insight into the program and learn about other research prospects, was just the type of networking opportunity he was looking for.

He also wanted to grow his knowledge in BME fields that he currently isn’t doing research in.  “I’ve expanded my knowledge in 3D bioprinting for example, but I’m looking to grow my understanding in areas such as regenerative medicine, and there are a lot of presenters at the conference who are touching on that topic,” he added. Bioprinting leverages 3D printing technology, but instead of using plastic or something similar, the technology turns out functioning biological tissue. One presenter Daniel hoped to see at the conference was Dr. Ngan F. Huang, an Associate Professor in the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Stanford University.  “She is doing stem cell research which is very applicable to 3D bioprinting because it can be used to grow cells to treat cardiovascular and musculoskeletal diseases,” Daniel said.

Don’t miss the next Biomedical Engineering conference in 2025!

The CMAA Club Makes Its College of Engineering Debut

CMAA First Meeting group photo

There is a new club at the College of Engineering focused on civil engineering, but is open to students of all majors.  The Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) is now being represented at San Jose State University (SJSU). The inspiration for starting a CMAA chapter comes from Joyce Lewis, a graduate student in civil engineering who has a deep passion for making a difference in individual lives and communities. She saw the impact that CMAA events had on students from other universities and was further encouraged to start the club after receiving two scholarships from the organization. This inspired Joyce to dedicate time and effort to start the new SJSU chapter even with her demanding academic schedule.

Joyce hopes to bring a better understanding of the benefits of being a member of CMAA, which is to provide civil and other engineering students with valuable practical knowledge to elevate their understanding of the industry to a professional level. The club’s activities aim to create opportunities for career growth, and access to scholarships, and encourage collaboration with professionals within the larger construction industry. “We have Spartan alumni members within CMAA who are eager to share insights and offer mentorship, enriching the academic journey of our members,” said Joyce.

For the remainder of the Spring semester, the club will mainly focus on academic excellence and will have one very impactful volunteer opportunity for students with the non-profit organization, Rebuilding Together Silicon Valley.  This organization is well known for providing critical repairs and accessibility modifications for low-income homeowners and community centers, all at zero cost to those receiving the services.  Students interested in this rewarding community activity can email the CMAA SJSU chapter at cmaasjsuchapter@gmail.com for more information.

To find out more about CMAA visit the Northern California chapter website.

Pushing the Boundaries: AI for Creativity and Open-Ended Tasks – Prof. Ahmed Banafa

AI creativity for open ended tasksAs artificial intelligence (AI) continues to evolve, it has shown remarkable performance in narrow, well-defined domains such as image recognition, game-playing, and natural language processing. However, its ability to exhibit true creativity and excel at open-ended tasks remains largely unexplored. This area holds immense potential for pushing the boundaries of what AI systems can achieve. Although AI has made significant progress, the challenge of developing systems capable of open-ended creativity and versatility remains a formidable frontier. With ongoing research in AI for creativity, we can look forward to a future where AI can perform tasks previously thought impossible.

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Spartan Engineers: Student Profile, Women’s History Month, AI, and more!

Student Profile – ​​Elizabeth Bremberg

 ​​Elizabeth Bremberg Meet Elizabeth Bremberg, a fourth-year Mechanical Engineering major with a Robotics Minor at San José State University (SJSU).  Elizabeth’s journey into engineering was sparked by her early fascination with sciences. It was her involvement in a local Girl Scout robotics troop, the Space Cookies VEX Team, that ignited her passion for robotics and engineering.

The deciding factor for her during high school to pursue engineering was the practical and applied approach that was lacking in science. Through hands-on experiences and mentorship from women engineers, Elizabeth found her calling in Mechanical Engineering, especially with robotics.

Choosing SJSU’s College of Engineering was a natural decision for Elizabeth since it was her parent’s alma mater and the opportunities presented by Silicon Valley’s tech hub. The diversity among the faculty members and their years of industry experience was what solidified her decision in the end.

Elizabeth was awarded the Gordon Family Scholarship twice, allowing her to pursue education without the burden of additional debt and alleviating financial stress on her family. Thanks to this scholarship, she was even able to declare a minor to add to her academic achievements.

Beyond academics, Elizabeth is actively involved in both school and community activities. Being in Beta Upsilon Chapter of Alpha Omega Epsilon, an SJSU sorority that focuses on promoting and uplifting women and other underrepresented individuals in STEM fields. She also volunteers with the Space Cookies VEX Team, providing guidance and support to aspiring engineers. Additionally, she serves as the president of Circle K International on campus, coordinating service projects to benefit the local community.

Looking towards the future, Elizabeth aspires to combine her passion for robotics with her love for nature. Her dream job involves exploring innovative soft robotics, with a focus on biomimicry to create robots that will help our ongoing problems of conserving natural resources.

Reflecting on her journey, Elizabeth wished that she had started researching all her possibilities and options sooner, this would have helped her tremendously when entering upper-division courses and her career field. One way she advises is talking to people with different backgrounds in classes or student organizations to get a better sense of all the opportunities that are being offered that you might not see.

Elizabeth also never thought of applying for scholarships, due to the pool of applicants she would have to compete with, but after having started the process, it was no longer intimidating. She encourages students to apply for any or all scholarships they can find, even off-campus opportunities.

Elizabeth’s story is about determination, passion, and a commitment to making a difference in both the engineering field and the world at large. As she prepares to graduate, her journey will hopefully inspire fellow students, showcasing the transformative power of education and the boundless opportunities within the engineering field.

Don’t miss out on an opportunity to apply for College of Engineering scholarships.  Apply here.

Women’s History Month – SWE

SWE in VegasEstablished in 1950, the Society of Women in Engineering (SWE) is an international not-for-profit educational and service organization dedicated to advocating for women in engineering and technology. In 1978, San José State University officially recognized SWE as a club on campus.

Since its inception, the club’s mission has been to assist students, irrespective of gender, in realizing their full potential. This is done through a range of initiatives such as workshops, company tours, networking events, guest speakers, and mixers. SWE collaborates with clubs like SOLES and BASE to engage individuals from diverse backgrounds and disciplines within engineering.

SWE extends its reach beyond college students to include K-12 students interested in engineering. The club develops outreach programs like “WOW! That’s Engineering” for high school girls interested in engineering and “SWE++” Python coding classes for middle school girls.

Two of SWE’s biggest events are the SWE National and Local conferences which provide valuable opportunities for students to connect and learn from industry professionals. Recently, the club received support from the organization to sponsor 11 members to attend the Las Vegas SWE Local event, enabling these students to immerse themselves in the world of professional engineering. One highlight of the event was that attendees had the privilege of connecting with the women who founded the club in 1978.

SWE remains dedicated to empowering students in engineering and is committed to fostering inclusivity and opportunities for all. Together, we’re shaping a future where every voice matters and every dream is achievable.

Tech expert explains advantages of sovereign AI for governments, companies – Prof. Ahmed Banafa

Santa Clara-based chipmaker Nvidia announced a new partnership with Oracle focused on what’s known as sovereign artificial intelligence (AI), meaning individual countries or companies produce AI using their own infrastructure and workforce allowing them to keep data secure. KTVU’s Alex Savidge discusses the advantages of this strategy with tech expert and San José State University professor Ahmed Banafa.

Fortinet Hosts College of Engineering Students

Tech 165 Class Tours Fortinet Headquarters in SunnyvaleOn Monday, March 18, 2024, students from San José State University’s (SJSU) Tech 165 Wireless Communication Technology class were invited to see the inner workings of Sunnyvale, California-based company, Fortinet, a leading provider of Cybersecurity and Mobile Security solutions.

This tour was organized by Dr. Sina Aboutorabi, course lecturer, and Ms. Rachel Moussa, Director of Business Development for the Fortinet Training Institute.  Students heard from the technical staff at the company on the products – hardware and software solutions.  They also received a tour of Innovation Labs, interacted with the Human Resources team, and were able to meet SJSU alumni working at the company.

Fortinet will be working with the SJSU College of Engineering Aviation and Technology Department in providing tools and wireless cybersecurity-related training to faculty.  SJSU students appreciated the knowledge they gained and the visit that was set up by Fortinet employees, Ms. Rachel Moussa and Mr. Alex Samote, VP of Product Development.

Silicon Valley Leadership Symposium

Roger CrocketInsight, Engagement, and How to Shape Your Life and Society

The last Spring 2024 Silicon Valley Leadership Symposium (SVLS) occurred on March 21 where guest speaker Roger Crockett, Founder & President, Return on Character (ROC) Leadership Advisory, brought a different view of industry to the College of Engineering.

Roger discussed how engineers can transition into the role of leading a team. He emphasized embedding flexibility into your career plan, and that happiness and fulfillment need to be a part of your goals. As he put it “life should be about putting a smile to the heart and peace to the soul.” Roger highlighted choosing hobbies that engage you and to surround yourself with people that bring you joy. He closed his talk by stating that no one looks like their story and not to judge a book by its cover.

Roger is a graduate of UCLA and got his master’s with honors in Business Journalism from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. He was Chicago Deputy Bureau Chief for BusinessWeek and a contributing writer for Harvard Business Review online. He also spent 27 years at Newsweek prior to moving into industry and then starting his own consulting to advise individuals in Silicon Valley leadership roles. Join us in the Fall for more opportunities to engage with more inspirational speakers!