10th Year Anniversary

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Fall 2020 marks the 10th year of the IDEA Engineering Student Center, one of the cornerstones of student life at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. In the past decade, the IDEA—Inclusion, Diversity, Excellence, Achievement—Engineering Student Center has supported thousands of students through to graduation through its various programs, including summer prep and mentorship programs, peer-led engineering learning communities, support for student diversity organizations, and more.  Read the full Jacobs School News Release.

Read the paper that was presented at the 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference:

Lisa Trahan, Gennie Miranda, Olivia A Graeve. "Reflecting on 10 years of Centralized Engineering Student Diversity Initiatives," ASEE Virtual Annual Conference (2021).


IDEA Center Founding Partners

We're grateful to the students, faculty, staff, and industry partners for the role they played in the IDEA Center's founding. We have invited them to share with us their reflections on that time, as well as their hopes for the Center's future.

Watch this recorded conversation among the IDEA Center's founding faculty director Dr. Carlos Coimbra, current faculty director Dr. Olivia Graeve, and incoming faculty director Dr. Darren Lipomi about the history and future of the IDEA Engineering Student Center:



Dr. Ebonee Williams

Director Virtual Experience & Peer Engagement Initiatives


  • Member of the Founding Task Force for the IDEA Center

  • Proposed the Center's creation to the Dean

  • Served on the advisory board for 9 years

Successes of the IDEA Center:

  • Tenured black faculty in the Jacobs School of Engineering

  • Increase in Latinx students

  • Increased engagement in faculty on the board for the IDEA Center

  • JUMP Program and leadership development of students


Margie Mathewson
VP of Business Operations at Ossium Health


  • Cofounder of Jacobs Undergraduate Mentoring Program (JUMP)

Successes of the IDEA Center:

  • How many people have been impacted by the IDEA Center, especially by its mentoring programs



Victor Betts
Libraries Fellow - North Carolina State University


  • Student Life & Diversity Coordinator
  • Advisor to the diversity engineering student organizations
  • Part of yield and retention programs


Successes of the IDEA Center:

  • Expanded the number of diversity engineering student orgs, with the creation of oSTEM and the adding of WIC
  • Unified efforts help to address larger issues of diversity, inclusion, and social justice that is much needed in the STEM field and in higher education


Yael "Lelli"
Van Den Einde

Teaching Professor Department of Structural Engineering at UCSD


  • Member of the Jacobs School Diversity Advisory Council
  • Chair of the committee tasked to develop the IDEA Center
  • Researched existing engineering diversity centers
  • Proposed funding, personnel requirements, and activities for the IDEA Center

Successes of the IDEA Center:

  • Summer Engineering Institute and Summer Prep programs and the head start it gives students
  • Our support in students' academic success
  • Fostering a more inclusive Jacobs School community

Celebrating our Alumni!

We're taking this opportunity to highlight some of our spectacular IDEA Center alumni. After graduating from UC San Diego, they've gone on to make an impact in industry and academia, started their own companies, are active in outreach efforts and are charting their own paths. We're currently reaching out to IDEA Center alumni to hear how IDEA programming influenced their UC San Diego experience, and what they're up to now. We'll share their stories below. If you're an IDEA Center alumnus and you'd like to participate, click here.

 David Perez-Aguilar
Chemical Engineering
Class of 2018


Involvement: Summer Engineering Institute

Current role: Sr Associate - Process Development at Amgen

Most memorable experience: SEI because of of experiencing on-campus living and making friends with a diverse group of people

Quote: Thank you to everyone at the IDEA Center who has helped keep this program running, it's a truly impactful program. Congrats on the 10 years and wishing you continued success.


 Martina Mitose
Chemical Engineering
Class of 2020

Involvement: IDEA Scholar, SEI Peer Facilitator, Student Life Intern, Overnight Program Host

Current role: Process Development Associate at Somatek Inc.
Most memorable experience: Commenting on the Olympics with their suitemates, despite not knowing each other at the time

Quote: The IDEA Center is one of the most welcoming places on campus, and we have the staff to thank for that. Being able to work closely with them and help with the daily operations has given me a close look at how much they put into making the IDEA Center a great place. Gennie is one of the best people I've ever met, and she's so invested in every single one of her students' success and happiness. It never ceases to amaze me at the amount of information she remembers about all of us.


 Fernando Carlos Gill
Environmental Engineering
Class of 2019


Involvement: Outreach co-chair for SHPE

Current role: Research Intern at Strategic Energy Innovations (Non-Profit)

Most memorable experience: Planning and leading the Empower High School Conference, where underrepresented high school students were able to gain hands-on experience in engineering

Quote: Thank you so much for the work that you do. Sometimes it's hard to see the effects you have in positions such as this. But as an alumnus, I can definitively state your work does make a difference. And I hope that y'all continue to do great things!


Kimberly Wang
Bioengineering: Biotech
Class of 2015

Involvement: On board and was president for Society of Women Engineers

Current role: Sr. Research Associate II at Kite Pharma

Most memorable experience: Speaking with potential future STEM students, answering their questions, and encouraging them to apply/pursue their dream field

Quote: Thanks for all that you do to help so many STEM students! The diversity organizations, outreach opportunities, and events you held were very impactful to both all of us at UCSD and potential future students.


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Ricardo Rueda
Bioengineering: Biosystems
Class of 2019

Involvement: IDEA Scholar, and Peer Educator for Engineering Learning Communities

Current role: Systems Engineer at Tandem Diabetes Care 

Most memorable experience: Engineering a parachute to drop an egg with my friends at the summer experience before freshman year. 

"Participating in the IDEA Center was essential to my experience at UCSD, especially in Bioengineering. Gennie and all the staff were always there to point me in the right direction and open up doors to me in engineering. As a first generation college student, I did not come to college with the engineering skills or related experience others around me had. Nonetheless through workshops, mentorships and open arms, the IDEA center helped me land fruitful research positions, create valuable connections and gave me opportunities to give back to this great community. I could not thank you all enough for the work that you do. Keep changing lives."


Rogelio Nunez-Flores
Class of 2016

Involvement: In the first cohort of IDEA Scholars in 2011, and a summer PrEP leader for the second cohort of IDEA Scholars. I had the honor to help introduce new incoming students to life at UC San Diego as a college student.

Current role: Biomedical Sciences PhD student at UC Riverside

"It made all the difference knowing I had a program that supported me and helped guide me as a first-generation college student. They knew me as a person and periodically reached out to me to see how I was doing. It made UC San Diego more of a comfortable environment. It is thanks to Terrance, Gennie, and all the people involved with the IDEA Center while I was there that I was able to accomplish what I have. I am forever grateful to the IDEA Center."



Arielle Soomi Yoo
Graduate Student at
UC Davis

Most Memorable Experience: The Summer Engineering Institute because it helped her find a community of engineering students and understand the pace of undergraduate courses

Quote: "The IDEA Center is one of the main reasons I stayed in engineering. Knowing that I had people genuinely rooting for me and encouraging my academic development helped me have the self confidence to pursue research. As a woman in STEM, sometimes I felt undervalued while taking courses, but having a community that I could always lean on meant the world to me and made me feel like I could keep pursuing academia. Congratulations on your 10th year anniversary, and best of luck with all your future initiatives. They really change engineering students' lives."


Barbara Samano
Bioengineering: Biosystems
Class of 2019

Involvement: IDEA Scholar

Current role: Assembly Integration and Test Lead at General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems

Most memorable experience: Freshman Summer PrEP!

Quote: "The IDEA Center opened up a world of opportunities to do research, network with industry professionals, receive additional tutoring and mentoring, and most importantly make friends who also strive to be the best engineers they can be. Thank you so much for planning all the fun and informational events you did during my college years. These events shaped my experience at UCSD and made my college career much richer than it could have been."


Sara Masjedi
Structural Engineering
Undergrad: Class of 2017
Graduate: 2018

Involvement: IDEA Scholar, Peer Educator at ELCs, Jump Participant

Current Role: Stress Engineer at GA-ASI

Most memorable experience: Summer PrEP before freshman year, meeting all the IDEA Scholars in her cohort 

Quote: "Through the IDEA Center, I already knew people in my major who were in the same boat as I was, so it became easy to do homework and study together since we were part of a community. The summer before freshman year, I got to meet all of the other IDEA Scholars in my cohort and made a lot of great memories and relationships." 


Here's what the IDEA Scholars class of 2020 had to say about how important IDEA Center programming is:


Read about some of our IDEA Scholars alumni and their successes here:

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Congratulations to Carlos Munoz (Class of 2016), an IDEA Scholar Alumnus, whose startup with a fellow Jacobs School alumni Rajan Kumar Ateios just raised $1.25 million in seed funding! Ateios has developed a flexible, paper-thin, customizable battery, and is reshaping battery manufacturing with their technique for thin-film batteries. Read article here

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Shout out to another IDEA Scholar Alumnus, Ricky Rueda (Class of 2019), who started a company with a fellow Jacobs School nanoengineering student Ji Lee Mercury Health, which was featured in the The San Diego Union-Tribune! The Mercury Health team has created a palm-sized device that monitors a room to see when someone gets up and returns to their bed, designed for older adults and their caregivers.