Student Spotlight: Yomara Rojo Avalos and Carlos Beltran De Paz
02.22.2019 | By Andrea Vasquez
Like many students making decisions on where to attend college, Yomara Rojo Avalos and Carlos Beltran De Paz assumed that a community college would be “easier” than heading straight into a university. Little did they know that this community college would prepare them to excel in ways they never imagined.
Now a student in The University of Texas at Tyler’s civil engineering program, Avalos was first bitten by the engineering bug at 13 years old after a school visit from a national STEM program. De Paz was on his high school’s robotics team which lead to his pursuit of a mechanical engineering degree. Both enrolled in San Jacinto College’s engineering program which offered them a unique experience in undergraduate research, a fairly new opportunity the College’s STEM programs are providing for students.
“We know that many of our students are commuter students, so the traditional research and internship work experiences don’t work for them because they have to work fulltime to afford tuition,” said Dr. Connie Gomez, San Jacinto College South Campus engineering professor. “Many of our STEM faculty provide our students with opportunities to have real STEM research experience on their resumes. These faculty also invite these students to present their research which allows them to hone in on their public speaking and presentation skills, all of which will only help them excel in their chosen STEM career fields.”
The College’s new Engineering and Technology Center will be housed at the South Campus, and is expected to open in spring 2020. The 74,000 square-foot Center will feature computer labs with industry-standard software along with a MakerSpace featuring a 3D print shop, metal shop, and a wood shop to allow students to build their designs.
“The engineering courses are challenging, but that’s part of being in the engineering field,” said De Paz who will be transferring to the University of Houston- Clear Lake’s mechanical engineering program. “With technology advancing from almost one hour to the next, I want to be part of building that future.”
Avalos adds that the College’s rigorous engineering program fully prepared her for her university’s engineering program. “You have to want that challenge and accept that it’s going to push you, but it’s all worth it. From here on it’s challenging, but engineers are built that way. The rest of your career will be taking on those challenges and finding solutions for them.”
San Jacinto College engineering program advisory committee member and Stinger Ghaffarian Technologies, Inc. project manager, James Kantara, says that student interns from the College’s engineering program are currently working side-by-side with professional engineers on some of the most technologically advanced projects within the space industry. “All of the College’s interns who have joined us have excelled in every area they supported including system test, system integration, system engineering, cyber security, platform engineering, software engineering, and engineering change management. Our engineering management team has taken notice of the caliber of San Jacinto College engineering interns, their technical knowledge, their academic competence, their ability to work in and keep up with our experienced engineering teams, their impeccable work ethic, and their talent for learning new technical skills.”
Gomez concludes that this is just one more way that the College is continuing its innovative leadership in community college education. “All of these opportunities make the difference whether you’re just a student or a student becoming a professional.”
About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has served the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, since 1961. The College is fiscally sound, holding bond ratings of AA and Aa2 by Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s. San Jacinto College is a 2019 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence Top 10 institution, a 2017 Aspen Prize Rising Star Award recipient and an Achieving the Dream Leader College. The College serves approximately 45,000 credit and non-credit students annually, and offers eight areas of study that puts students on a path to transfer to four-year institutions or enter the workforce. San Jacinto College’s impact on the region totals $1.3 billion in added income, which supports 13,044 jobs.