Connecting BC Students with Industry Professionals to Launch STEM Careers

BC student attendees of STEM conference in San Diego

Monday, November 6, 2023

A group of talented Bakersfield College MESA students connected with industry professionals in San Diego during an invite-only STEM conference.

MESA’s Student Leadership Conference brought together hand-picked engineering and computer science students with industry to develop the next generation of STEM leaders. Held at the Marriott Mission Valley, October 20-22, this year’s conference challenged students to design a product or service (in about 30 hours) aimed at addressing one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The MESA (Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement) program guides diverse students from underrepresented backgrounds into STEM education and careers.

Students had the unique opportunity to interact one-on-one and in small groups with company executives, engineers and recruiters. Many often leave the conference with connections that lead to internships and full-time employment. Students networked, attended leadership and communications workshops, and a company expo in addition to the team challenge.
"MESA's Student Leadership Conference provides an incredible opportunity for our community college and university students to gain invaluable career development skills and network with leading industry professionals to kick-start their STEM careers,” said MESA Executive Director Thomas Ahn. “Our students represent the skills, passion and potential that California desperately needs to enrich our workforce and strengthen our communities.  MESA students are among California's most precious resources for providing diverse talent in the STEM fields."

Companies recognize the importance of engaging with and supporting our students — so much so they fully fund the conference with donations and volunteers.  These enlightened corporate partners understand these are not simply underserved and underrepresented students, they are an underutilized pool of talent that has been long overlooked.

This year’s sponsors include:  Keysight (Platinum sponsor) and Edison International (Gold Sponsor), as well as PG&E, Qualcomm, Harris and Associates and Uber. 
Additionally, professionals from those companies and others volunteered their weekends to present workshops, host career fair tables and lead students through the team challenge. Those companies included: Carollo Engineers, San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board, Northrop Grumman, Intel, Electronic Arts, Rockwell Automation, Peraton, NOAA, MicroVention-Terumo, Tetra Tech and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.

Theresa M. Garcia, Assistant Dean of the College of Engineering at San Diego State University was honored with the Ray Landis Impact Award for being a visionary in diversity and STEM education. 

MESA student attendees came from 32 community colleges, CSUs, UCs and private universities from across California. 

Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) has a 53-year history of changing the face of science, technology and engineering by developing a new generation of STEM leaders. Now with a network of more than 250,000 alumni, MESA fuels diversity by propelling historically underrepresented students toward STEM degrees and professional careers. Our students go on to be astronauts, educators, politicians and more.

Each year MESA serves over 20,000 students at the pre-college, community college and university levels across California. MESA bridges classroom learning with real-world applications, and employs rigorous academics, leadership preparation, a peer community and collaborative problem-solving training to produce highly skilled college graduates who meet 21st century STEM workforce needs.

The White House, the Ford Foundation, and the Silicon Valley Education Foundation have all
recognized MESA for its innovative and effective academic development model.