Incoming Students Commit to STEM

Published August 14, 2020

When Melissa Amaya ’15 enrolled in Cal State Long Beach's College of Engineering, she found herself at the foot of a challenging and often overwhelming academic path.

The guidance of faculty and advisors was critical to her success in the program, and inspired her to help fellow students plug in and learn how rewarding their STEM programs can be. Now a structure design engineer at Boeing, Amaya will give her best advice to the newest class of freshmen being welcomed to the field during STEM Signing Day on Aug. 18.

The event is both a celebration of the commitment incoming students are making for their careers and a wellspring of insider advice - one of a handful of such events that longtime CSULB industrial partner Boeing spearheads with collaborator Tallo. Amaya joins a strong lineup of speakers, including President Jane Close Conoley, College of Engineering Dean Tracy Maples, newly appointed LBUSD Superintendent Jill Baker, and fellow Boeing engineers.

The incoming cohort includes first-year students pursuing aerospace or mechanical engineering degrees. As a freshman in the mechanical engineering program herself, Amaya found the transition into college life and the complexity of STEM academics daunting, but with the support of peers and mentors, was able to thrive in the program and launch her career.  

STEM is not an easy path and it can be stressful at times, so that support makes a big difference,” Amaya said. “I personally joined the Society of Women Engineers and Society of Automotive Engineers, and had opportunities to attend conferences, different events, build friendships and build a strong network.

Amaya is one of nearly 1,800 CSULB alumni currently employed at Boeing. STEM Signing Day is the latest collaboration in a decades-long industrial partnership that has provided funding for student groups and activities, research and service contracts, and internship and employment opportunities for CSULB students and alumni.

CSULB was the first college campus to host the Boeing Research & Technology Lab, where students work in parallel with Boeing employees to design aviation components. In 1993, the donation of the Boeing Low-Speed Wind Tunnel Lab elevated the study of aerodynamics on campus. A $1 million endowment created the College of Engineering’s Boeing Endowed Chair in Manufacturing, which provides support for a distinguished faculty scholar and for student research in aerospace manufacturing.

Boeing’s investment in CSULB includes significant support for scholarships for engineering students, many of whom are in the BESST and Honors programs. In the College of Business, Boeing supports scholarships for business majors, student organizations like the Student Center for Professional Development, the Ukleja Center for Ethical Leadership, and the Associated Business Student Organizations Council, and provides business analytics software to enrich the curricula of Supply Chain, Information Systems and Marketing programs.