|Saura Naderi, Career Development Specialist, Qualcomm|
San Diego, CA, May 1, 2015 -- Three days a week, a crowd of middle-school students storms the Qualcomm® Thinkabit Lab™ to learn about life as an engineer, build an art project of their own, and show it off to the rest of the group.
The hands-on lab portion was designed and is run by University of California, San Diego engineering physics alum, Saura Naderi, now a career development specialist at Qualcomm.
“Every week, I get to teach kids how to build stuff that I think is really cool, and then watch what they create from it,” said Naderi. “I have my dream job.”
The path to her dream job wasn’t a straight one, and Naderi recently returned to the Jacobs School of Engineering to impart her wisdom to undergraduate engineering students.
Naderi spoke as a part of a seminar series put on by the California Space Grant Consortium, a part of the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering department at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.
Naderi began her talk by showing this video, which gave the students a glimpse into her everyday life at Qualcomm.
“But let’s back up,” she said as the clip finished. “I graduated from UC San Diego in 2007 with a bachelor’s in Engineering Physics. After graduation I was offered a job as a programmer at UCSD, but I was laid off because I didn’t have the necessary experience.”
That’s when Naderi realized the importance of getting hands-on experience as an undergraduate.
Naderi began volunteering her time at UC San Diego and launched the myLab program, housed at the Qualcomm Institute (the UC San Diego Division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology.) Each quarter, the myLab program hosts a workshop in which students build a guitar pedal from scratch.
“I wanted to start a program that would give undergraduate engineering students the hands-on experience they would need in the real world,” said Naderi. “Building a guitar pedal from scratch allows them to apply their textbook knowledge while learning firsthand which parts manipulate the sound.”
Naderi quickly realized that educating students made her feel good at the end of the day, but that she felt a void when the students left for the summer. To fill it, she began doing similar projects with K-12 students in areas around San Diego where science, technology, engineering and mathematics aren’t necessarily the focus.
Her mantra became: “How do you aspire to be an engineer when you don’t know what an engineer is?” After arriving at Qualcomm, her supervisor, Ed Hidalgo, Senior Director of Staffing at Qualcomm, expanded the mantra to “How do you aspire to a career you don’t know exists?”
Naderi gave the undergraduate engineering students attending the seminar a few pieces of advice:
If you are an undergraduate engineering student at the Jacaobs School looking for internship opportunities, check out these resources and opportunities:
Naderi also encouraged Jacobs School students to reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org if they would like someone who is certified to go over the results of the Strong Interest Inventory with them.
|Thinkabit Lab, Qualcomm|
As for the Qualcomm Thinkabit Lab, Naderi says the interest from middle schools around San Diego is through the roof.
“This summer we’ll be animating stuffed animals,” said Naderi. “This will be challenging for the students because it requires them to use geometry to go from a 2D to a 3D surface.”
California Space Grant Consortium
The California Space Grant Consortium is designed to provide activities that increase the understanding, assessment, development, and utilization of aerospace resources and to expand the educational, scientific, and research base of all aerospace-related fields.
In addition to the seminar series, the California Space Grant Consortium has many other projects on campus, such as the MAE 155b senior design course in which students design, build and launch a rocket themselves, or the Near-Space Balloon project that takes place over the summer.
“In the past, we’ve placed little astronauts – cockroaches, planeria and water bears – on these balloons and sent them soaring to 85,000 feet and beyond for research purposes,” said Tehseen Usman Lazzouni, Assistant Director for the California Space Grant Consortium prior to introducing Naderi.