International Engineering Students Visit SJSU for Summer in Silicon Valley

International Engineering Students visit Intel with mentors as part of the Summer in Silicon Valley Program.

International Engineering Students visit Intel with mentors as part of the Summer in Silicon Valley Program.

By Lisa Francesca, Communications Director, Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering

Sang Woo Son, from Korea, was surprised to find that cars stop for pedestrians in the Bay Area. For Hao Peng, from China, the sight of Pier 39 and the seawater “was really amazing and helped me release my stress.”

Every year, a handful of international engineering students who seek an innovative design and entrepreneurship experience arrive in Silicon Valley for a three-week intensive program at San Jose State. They learn about Silicon Valley through lectures and field trips, but they also learn about collaboration, project management and presentation — and they have a lot of fun along the way.

Keyri Moreira Ruiz coordinated this year’s Summer in Silicon Valley Program, hosted by International Gateways in the College of Professional and Global Education. Ruiz reported on the student activities, which included field trips to company sites. This summer, students from Zhejiang University in China, Chung Yuan Christian University in Taiwan, and Gyeongsang National University in South Korea, attended.

“During the first week the students took two company tours of EAG Laboratories and Intel,” said Ruiz. “At EAG Labs, students learned about material engineering and the different machines used to study particles including their surface and molecules. At Intel, a group of engineers spoke about their responsibilities and experiences, and how networking is important in today’s world. They also shared that, being international students themselves, it was a bit difficult to adjust to the American culture, but they persevered.”

For Song Ei Jin from Gyeongsang National University, Intel was a favorite company trip. “It was good because they had Korean workers giving advice about how to go abroad. They gave us a lot of confidence.”

Working together on a team project was an essential part of the intensive experience. When asked about what she learned, HeeJung Kwak from Gyeongsang said, “[At first] it was hard to discuss and speak my ideas in English, but it became natural after talking regularly. It was interesting that people from different countries have different perspectives, and that was helpful to widen my own perspective.”

Lingchang Zhou from Zhejiang University added, “Even though there is an obstacle for communication, I enjoyed the project. I learned how to cooperate with people from different backgrounds. This will be helpful if I work in international companies.”

Students also visited San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge and tried different restaurants to expand their horizons. They also toured the Exploratorium, Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf and Ghirardelli Square. In the South Bay, they learned about American culture at Levi’s Stadium, the Computer History Museum, the NASA Ames Visiting Center, and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. For some, this was their first visit to a beach.

Back on campus, Ruiz and International Gateways kept the students occupied with events such as Coffee, Tea and Karaoke Night; Bar-B-Que Night; Bowling Night and a pool party. Ruiz explained, “What was wonderful about this was that students were able to meet other students from different countries. In some cases, students met others attending the same university they were enrolled in.”

For Chengjun Kong (from Zhejiang University), one highlight was lunch at the Cheesecake Factory — but it was about more than the food. “We had a great time enjoying each other’s company and we broke down some of the barriers that language [differences] had presented—we talked about life, social life, relationships, food, etc. We had effective communication all throughout the day, making it seem like a normal day with friends we’ve known for a long time.”

Learn more about Summer in Silicon Valley.

From International Student to Outstanding Grad, Alumna Lands Job at PwC

Qurat Syeda

Qurat Syeda

Qurat Syeda, ’19 Accounting, moved solo to the United States to study business four years ago. This spring, she was named one of SJSU’s Outstanding Graduating Seniors for her strong academic record, her spirit of service to supporting other students and leadership.

“I have always been passionate about learning,” she said. “But I wanted to do more than just learn about the world from books. I wanted to experience it. So I made the bold decision to move out to the U.S. on my own for my undergraduate degree, the first in my family to do so.”

Syeda was born in Pakistan, but was raised in Riyadh, Saudi Arabi.

“I grew up in a blend of two cultures, but they both share a strong sense of hospitality and warmth for their guests,” she said. “As a traveler, you will always be greeted with the utmost love and respect…receiving people with kindness and generosity has always been part of my upbringing.”

When she first arrived at SJSU, she had supportive faculty who checked in on her regularly before and after class to see how she was doing.

“My biggest support was from my supervisors at Peer Connections,” she said. “They were instrumental in both my personal and professional growth at SJSU and if I hadn’t found them or my job as a Peer Educator, I don’t know how I would have made it through college.”

Syeda celebrated her stellar academic record last month at the Lucas College and Graduate School of Business commencement ceremony. She maintained a stellar of a 4.0 grade point average 4.0 grade point average while tutoring and mentoring more than 500 students as peer educator with SJSU Peer Connections and the Jack Holland Student Success Center

“Qurat is not only focusing on her academics, but trying to help others as well,” said Michael Williams, an accounting lecturer. “She is competitive and wants to be the best, but not at the expense of other people.”

She counts among her top achievements receiving the Financial Women of San Francisco scholarship award in 2018.

“I was among four undergraduate female students from the greater Bay Area chosen for this academic and personal achievement,” she said. “As one of the oldest and largest women-only organizations in the Valley, it was an honor to be interviewed and to speak to a crowd of powerful and amazing women from all over the area and to be shown tremendous support and encouragement for the goals that I have chosen to pursue and the personal hurdles that I have overcome.”

A member of Lucas College and Graduate School of Business’ Sbona Honors program, Syeda also earned second place at the 2016 PwC Case Competition and the 2016 ISACA Research Case Competition.

While she is looking forward to winding down a bit after four rigorous years of studying and working toward her degree, she will be starting a full-time position with one of the big four accounting firms, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). She is also planning to study for CPA licensure soon.