Spartans at Work: At Tesla, "It's Just a Great Work Environment to Learn and to Challenge Yourself"

By Sarah Kyo, Web Communications Specialist

(This summer, SJSU Today hit the road, visiting students and recent grads on the job across the country and around the world. Our Spartans at Work series continues with former exchange student Marc Gagnon.)

When considering U.S. exchange programs, Canadian Marc Gagnon had one ultimate goal: to eventually work for electric car company Tesla Motors. SJSU’s location made the school an ideal option.

“Tesla has an office in Palo Alto and the manufacturing plant is in Fremont, so, you know, San Jose is right in between the two,” he said, “and it made a lot of sense to come to San Jose State, and it was the right choice and a great experience.”

Gagnon took engineering classes during Spring 2011, while living at SJSU International House, a dormitory for U.S. and international students. While he wished he could have continued on for an additional semester, his brief taste of Silicon Valley solidified that that was where he wanted to be after graduation.

Silicon Valley is where Gagnon is at today, after earning a mechanical engineering degree from ETS (École de technologie supérieure) in Montreal. In May, he started a new job as a mechanical engineer in Tesla’s Closures Design group, which works on doors, hoods and trunks. Whether it’s the front trunk of the recent Model S or the “falcon wing” doors of the upcoming Model X, Gagnon and his diverse team are problem solvers who try to make cool features work as smoothly as possible. After his time at SJSU, he is grateful for the opportunity to follow his dream.

“I think it’s part of Silicon Valley,” he said. “People come from all over the world to work here, and the people who come here are very motivated about being here, and they want to work hard to make it happen.”

Graphic design students line up on both sides of a long table and pose for photo.

Graphic Design Students Find Inspiration in England, France, Switzerland, Germany

group shot near table with posters

Three-day poster workshop with Swiss designer Jean-Benoit Levy at the Basel School of Design.

By Andy Tran

Twenty-one students and alumni from SJSU’s BFA Graphic Design program traveled to Europe for three weeks beginning June 5, 2011. This trip was supervised by two professors—Connie Hwang and Chang-Sik Kim. We visited London, England; Paris, France; Basel and Zurich, Switzerland; and Munich, Weimar, and Berlin, Germany. I recently graduated from our BFA program this past spring semester, and I must say the most amazing thing for me this trip was getting to know and growing close with the junior students. We’re all so busy with schoolwork during the year that seniors and juniors rarely hang out and do fun things outside of class. The works we saw during studio and museum visits has inspired me—along with others—to start personal design projects ranging from book and typeface design, to motion graphics and more. Watch a video tracing the trip.

MFA Photo Exchange Students show two Russian Photographers in front of San Jose City Hall.

Photo Exchange Program Yields “Yekaterinburg and San Jose Through the Eyes of One Another”

MFA Photo Exchange Students show two Russian Photographers in front of San Jose City Hall.

Jennifer Easton, public arts manager from the San Jose Public Arts Program, guides MFA grad students and two Russian photographers at San Jose City Hall (Photo by Robin Lasser).

By Amanda Holst, Public Affairs Assistant

When they received a call last October from the U.S. Consul General in Yekaterinburg, Russia, asking SJSU to take part in an international photo exchange program, professors Brian Taylor and Robin Lasser knew they had a great opportunity on their hands.

Photography chair Art Taylor explained why this particular exchange was different than most.

“Yekaterinburg and San Jose are sister cities,” Taylor said. “There have been other cultural exchanges where one city would send an artist here and we would send an artist there. But never have there been two photographers as part of an exchange. It’s definitely a first.”

Representing the United States, Lasser, Taylor, and SJSU alumna Adrienne Pao visited Yekaterinburg in May 2011. The Americans toured the Urals region of Russia and photographed Lasser and Pao’s Russian-style “dress tent” now on display in Yekaterinburg’s Natural History Museum, in various locations around the city.  Lasser and Pao have created an entire series of dress tents they describe as “wearable architecture” that is “installed and worn in the landscape in order to be photographed.”

Local Interpretations, Russian Impressions

Last week, two Russian photographers from Yekaterinburg, Sophia Nasyrova and Denis Tarasov, visited San Jose. Eight SJSU photo grad students in the Master of Fine Arts photography program worked alongside the Russian photographers as they traveled all over Northern California, giving their local interpretations in exchange for Russian impressions.

Sites included the Di Rosa Gatehouse Gallery in Napa, the Apple headquarters in Cupertino, downtown San Jose, Moffett Field, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and Mare Island, a former Naval base in Vallejo that represents a shared common victory for the United States and Russia during the second World War.

“In shaping this international exchange and as the project lead, I tried to think of the long standing and historical relationship we’ve had with Russia,” Lasser said. “Places we visited explored not only the past relationships of military, church and state, but also and art and technology.”

The cultural experience in San Jose broke into philosophical discussions each night at dinner, where the photo grad students and Russian photographers shared historical and artistic perspectives. The Russian photographers brought a slideshow of the history of Russian photography as well as contemporary work.

Sister Cities

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed presented the two Russian photographers with plaques signed by all counsel members. Commendations were also given to credit their work and to commemorate the sister city relationship.

The photographs from this exchange will be exhibited on the Mayor’s Floor at City Hall this August. Simultaneously, the work will be displayed in Russia at the Metenkhov House Photo Museum. According to Lasser, a book on the project will be published in Moscow.

The SJSU  School of Art and Design offers two graduate degrees, the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) and Master of Arts (MA) programs. An undergraduate degree in photojournalism is offered by the School of Journalism and Mass Communications.

Three female SJSU students riding camels in desert.

Faculty Led Programs: Vietnam, France and Argentina Among the Many Destinations for Summer 2011

Three female SJSU students riding camels in desert.

SJSU students riding camels in Morocco.

By Kati Bell, Supervisor,
Faculty Led Overseas Course Program

Faculty and students from SJSU will be heading to the four corners of the world this summer while participating in the campus’ Faculty Led Overseas Course Program. This program allows faculty to teach SJSU courses overseas and incorporates the host culture and local attractions into the curriculum. Over 150 students and 16 faculty will embark in June to the following locations:

Public Relations in Paris, France
Social Work in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Archeology in the West Indies
Counsellor Education in Beijing, China
Food, Commerce and PreHistory in Dordogne, France
Maternal Health Education in Belize
Japanese Culture Studies in Kyoto, Japan
Media and Mass Communication in Dubai, UAE
Vietnamese Culture and Social Perspectives in Hanoi, Vietnam

Proposals for new courses are due July 15. Faculty receive payment for the course, airfare, accommodation and food costs while facilitating the program. For more information, please visit the Faculty Led Programs website.

SJSU Ranked No. 1 Destination for International Students

For the second consecutive year, more international students chose SJSU than any other comparable institution nationwide, including all CSU campuses. The Institute of International Education’s “Open Doors 2010” report issued Nov. 15 placed SJSU at the top of the list for universities and colleges offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Continue reading

SJSU Celebrates International Week: Camel Riding Anyone?

SJSU will celebrate International Week November 8 through 12. This is your chance to become immersed in a wide array of global opportunities, beginning with the Peter Lee Memorial Lecture 4 p.m. Nov. 8 in Engineering 189. The speaker will be Mary Catherine Bateson, a writer, cultural anthropologist, and daughter of Margaret Mead. Continue reading

San Jose State Selected For National Honor Recognizing Top Citizen Diplomacy Programs

SJSU Salzburg Program to Serve as Model for Higher Education Globalization

Contact: Pat Lopes Harris, 408-656-6999

SAN JOSE, Calif., — The SJSU Salzburg Program has been named one of the nation’s top ten citizen diplomacy programs in the field of higher education by the U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy, in partnership with the U. S. State Department and the NAFSA Association of International Educators. Continue reading

Argentina Lends Students Broader Perspectives, Deeper Convictions

By William Goodrich,  Senior Lead,  International and Extended Studies Marketing and Communications

Students with Professor Hector Aguilar, architect & art historian.

Students with Professor Hector Aguilar, architect & art historian.

Michael Gorman, associate professor in the School of Social Work, spent three weeks this past summer in Argentina. No, it wasn’t for vacationing or sightseeing or relaxing. It was to empower 12 students to gain a global perspective of social work, social justice and human rights in a country that has struggled with these issues and is still coming to grips with its history of human rights abuses and the economic crisis of 2002. Continue reading

SJSU e-Learning Leader Shares Expertise With Asia

Steve Zlotolow, International and Extended Studies associate dean, recently returned from Bangkok, Thailand, where he delivered the opening keynote address at the National e-Learning Conference sponsored by Thailand Cyber University. The speaking engagement, with all expenses paid by the Thai Office of the Higher Education Commission, Ministry of Education, focused on “e-Learning Challenges for the Future.” Continue reading