Joseph Lopez is a senior in Mechanical Engineering at California State University, Long Beach enrolled in the universities ABET accredited Antelope Valley Engineering Program. He is scheduled to graduate in December 2015 and currently holds an overall GPA of 3.94. Joseph, the youngest of three siblings, will be the first person in his family to graduate with a Bachelor’s in Science degree. His parents, who came to the United States from Mexico to have a better life, worked hard to support their family and provided Joseph with opportunities to learn and develop a strong work ethic. Joseph, who is very grateful for his parents support, states his interests in engineering were kindled while working as a carpenter with his father and while studying high school calculus and physics. A resident of Palmdale, Joseph attended Highland High School and it was during his high school years he became fascinated with engineering. As he put it, “I plan to go into a field where I can help my team create more efficient machines and to help the cause of renewable energy.” He matriculated to Antelope Valley College and pursued his interests in mathematics, physics and engineering, placing on the President’s List for Excellence in Scholarship. In Fall 2013, Joseph transferred, as a junior, to CSULB to complete his studies in Mechanical Engineering. In May of 2014, for his continued scholarship, he was inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.
During the summer of 2015, Joseph traveled to Huntsville, Alabama for an internship with the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. He worked in the Propulsions Department and helped to design, build, fabricate and test, a flight-representative test stand for a non-cavitating venturi (NCV) flow meter with two phase flow. The NCV is currently being recommended for use on the satellite Europa Clipper to measure propellant fuel flow rates throughout its mission to Jupiter and its moon Europa. Joseph plans to pursue a Master’s Degree in a specialized field with his current engineering interests including thermodynamics, control theory, and propulsion.
Away from his studies, Joseph has served as a tutor and pursues his interests in art and music.
Theara Boon Kwok
Theara Boon Kwok is a junior in Electrical Engineering at California State University, Long Beach Antelope Valley Engineering Program (CSULB-AV). He matriculated to this program from Antelope Valley College (AVC) in the Spring of 2016 with a cumulative GPA of 3.89. Theara was born in Cambodia and is the youngest son of four siblings. In 2001, after he finished high school, his parents sent him to the United States to live with his oldest brother who had settled in Los Angeles and operated Popular Donuts in Inglewood. While working in his brother’s donut shop, he attended Community Adult School to learn English. In 2003 the family relocated to Lancaster to enter into a new business opportunity, a gas station. He quit school and for ten years worked with his brother pumping gas and continuing his apprenticeship in private business, all along dreaming of going back to school to pursue his interests in Electrical Engineering. In 2014, while continuing to work and manage the K-20 Minimart/Arco gas Station, Theara enrolled at AVC and completed the requirements for transfer. With admittance to the CSULB-AV program and the opportunities this two and a half year program will bring to him, through internships and summer work experiences, he feels he will be able to build his knowledge and skill base. Of course, all of this will enable him to achieve his goal of becoming a professional Electrical Engineer working in the field of Aerospace.
Kevin Loudon is a junior in Electrical Engineering at California State University, Long Beach Antelope Valley Engineering Program (CSULB-AV). He matriculated to this program from the Antelope Valley College (AVC) Engineering Program in the Spring of 2016 and plans to graduate with a degree in Electrical Engineering in December of 2018.
Kevin was raised in the Antelope Valley and attended Lancaster High School. Kevin’s father was an air traffic controller and aviation was very important to the family. At a young age, he began to develop his interest in aviation through a subscription to an aviation magazine that included data sheets that described the development, performance and unique features of X-planes, fighters, helicopters and commercial transport aircraft. He anxiously awaited the arrival of this monthly magazine. His interests in computers also began early in his life; and at the age nine, he was assembling computers from hand-me-down components using 8086 IBM PC processors. Over the years, these experiences nurtured his interests in computer technology and electrical engineering. As an engineering student, working at NASA Armstrong, he is continuing to learn about control systems for small-unmanned autonomous systems (sUAS) and developing a flight data 3D animation tool. With graduation, Kevin’s goal is a career in aerospace at NASA Armstrong as part of a team of engineers and scientists working on future manned X-plane projects
Sharon Gonzales is a junior at the California State University, Long Beach- Antelope Valley Engineering Program (CSULB-AV). She matriculated to this program from Antelope Valley College (AVC) in the Spring Semester of 2016 with an AA and AS for Transfer in Mathematics. She plans to graduate with a Bachelors of Mechanical Engineering in December of 2019.
In high school, Sharon Gonzales had a love for mathematics and a desire to be an architect. She started her college education with this as a goal, but the financial realities facing her family prevented her from continuing and she had to find a job. In 2001, she began work for the Target Corporation in customer service, and Archer Management, as a clerk. Along the way, she married and over a period of six years had three children, she dedicated herself to being a wife and mother. Sharon volunteered with the Palmtree Elementary Head Start Program, El Dorado Elementary field trips, AYSO Soccer, and First Robotics Competitions. However, as she heard the sonic booms over the skies of the Antelope Valley, and while her house rattled, she wondered and questioned “how sonic booms are created”? Could, I “with flight testing …reduce the noise of sonic booms”? Clearly Sharon’s desire to learn and understand physical phenomena was strong. In spring 2013, Sharon enrolled at Antelope Valley College, knowing that, after a hiatus of over 12 years, courses in mathematics, physics and chemistry would be a challenge. She worked hard, persevered, and once again thought about architecture and even computer engineering as eventual career goals. However, her experiences in a course entitled, Introduction to Engineering, and a presentation by Dr. Ken Santarelli, former director of the CSULB-AV Engineering Program, change this goal to aerospace engineering. His passion for engineering and the CSULB-AV Engineering Program convinced her that she would transfer to the Lancaster Program to follow her dream. Now, with three semesters to graduation, Sharon is well on her way and she would love to add to her engineering education by having an opportunity to intern with a local aerospace company.
To achieve her goal of being a mechanical engineer in flight test, a male dominated profession, has been a challenge for Sharon. Yet, along the way, she also came to realize she wants to be seen as a role model for other young women, set a good example, and to support and encourage them to set goals, work hard and follow their dreams, as she has.
Leticia Pantoja is a junior at the California State University, Long Beach- Antelope Valley Engineering Program (CSULB-AVEP). She is a graduate of Bakersfield College’s Engineering Program and has earned a BS in Engineering Sciences with a specialty in Petroleum Engineering from CSU Bakersfield (2019). She plans to graduate with a Bachelors of Mechanical Engineering in December of 2021.
Leticia is a first generation college student born of Mexican immigrants who worked hard in the fields to support their daughter. Going to college was never a question and Leticia has worked hard to help them see “their American Dream a success story”. After completing her degree in Petroleum Engineering, she came to realize that this career field was not for her. She wanted more and found her way to CSULB-AVEP in Lancaster where she was amazed by the support provided by the Program and the exciting future opportunities in the aerospace industry. This motivated her to enroll in the Program and to set as her goal a career in flight test with the Air Force Test Center at Edwards AFB.
Andrea Arias is a junior at the California State University, Long Beach- Antelope Valley Engineering Program (CSULB-AVEP). She is a graduate of Antelope Valley College’s Engineering Program and has earned an Associates in Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering, summa cum laude. Selected to the President’s List at CSU Long Beach spring 2021, Andrea plans to graduate with a Bachelors of Mechanical Engineering in the fall of 2022.
Raised in Rosamond, Andrea grew-up in the shadows of the aerospace industry associated with Edwards Air Force Base, the Mojave Air and Space Port and Air Force Plant 42. Early on, she knew she wanted to be an aerospace engineer. An internship with Northrop Grumman and summer camp with the National Test Pilot School solidified her career choice. Currently employed by Fastenal, Andrea is inspired to complete her studies in engineering. She plans to do this through daily exposure to the Stratolaunch Rocket and its role in hypersonic flight; plus, Virgin Galactic, Northrop Grumman and other companies pushing the boundaries of aerospace engineering at the Space Port. It is the excitement associated with these many organizations that motivates her to a future in engineering and contributing to the advancement of the aerospace industry.
Recipient of the William J. “Pete” Knight Excellence in Aerospace Scholarship
Stephanie Leathers is a graduate of Quartz Hill High School where she was a GSA Vice-president and an officer of the Key Club. She volunteered as a Cheerleading Coach and served as a private tutor in a variety of subjects including mathematics and reading. She enrolled at AVC, where in addition to her studies, she was active in the STEM Club and the chair of the AVC STEM Club Biology Packet committee. Stephanie graduated magna cum laude from Antelope Valley College (AVC) with four Associate’s degrees in mathematics and sciences. She matriculated to the California State University, Long Beach Antelope Valley Engineering Program (CSULB-AV) in 2016 and has completed one year of study towards her degree in Mechanical Engineering. With a current GPA of 3.61, she plans on graduating in December 2017. As a child she loved to solve puzzles; and now, as an engineering student, she has developed a special interest in forensic engineering. So, after graduation as a professional Mechanical Engineer, she plans to pursue additional studies in materials and aviation failure analysis.
Nicole Panossian is a junior in Mechanical Engineering at California State University, Long Beach Antelope Valley Engineering Program (CSULB-AV). She matriculated to this program from the Antelope Valley College (AVC) Engineering Program in the Spring of 2016 and plans to graduate with a Bachelors of Mechanical Engineering in December of 2018.
Nicole Panossian, a graduate of Quartz Hill High School, has always had an aptitude for mathematics and science. As a student at AVC, she excelled in these disciplines and worked as a Math Tutor. She enjoys helping others, and to this day, she works as a General Tutor for Innovation Education. Through her studies of courses like statics and strengths of materials, Nicole soon came to realize that every aspect of mechanical engineering was intriguing to her and that she wanted to have a career in engineering. She wrote, “I enjoy learning the workings of thermodynamics and fluid dynamics involved in aerospace technology. I also enjoy observing and learning how the mathematics and physics work in these processes. Having a career where I could theorize, calculate, and test different machines, or even create them, would suit my interest and the skills I have and will develop further.” Following graduation, Nicole’s goal is a career in aerospace engineering.
Britney Jaworski is a junior at the California State University, Long Beach- Antelope Valley Engineering Program (CSULB-AV). She matriculated to this program from the Antelope Valley College (AVC) in the Spring Semester of 2017 and plans to graduate with a Bachelors of Electrical Engineering in December of 2019.
When Britney was in the 8th grade, she and a friend made a pact to become engineers in the aviation field, they were going to either design or fly aircraft. Following a move to the Antelope Valley and exposure to the vast amount of aerospace activity in the skies above, she knew engineering was for her. During her freshman-sophomore year at AVC, she was able to intern with NASA at Edwards and be exposed to flight test. It helped her understand the nature of flight test, systems engineering and gave her an appreciation of aerospace engineering. Currently, Britney is interning in avionics at Edwards Air Force Base creating test screens for specific parameters to be used in in-flight testing. These opportunities have helped her develop an understanding of the integration of aircraft systems and establish an awareness for their importance for the safety and mission of the warfighter. Britney has been inspired to learn more, and upon graduation, to pursue a career in aerospace engineering and flight test.
Gillian Chatfelter is a junior at the California State University, Long Beach- Antelope Valley Engineering Program (CSULB-AV). A graduate of SOAR Early College High School and Antelope Valley College, Gillian matriculated to this program in this fall semester of 2019. She plans to graduate with a Bachelors of Electrical Engineering in December of 2021.
Growing up in the Antelope Valley, Gillian frequently found herself looking into the night or daytime skies to find the planets, searching for constellations or seeking out highflying aircraft by tracking their contrails. She developed, at a very young age, a fascination with the size of aircraft, the physics behind the designs she observed, and questions as to how they were propelled through the air, as if weightless. This fascination contributed to her interests in STEM and her strong interests in physics and mathematics. These subjects motivated her towards a career in engineering. Gillian’s short-term goal is to find an internship in electrical engineering that will supplement her education and enhance her overall experience. Her long-term goal is to establish a career in aerospace engineering, as part of a team building a stealth bomber, that will be part of the country’s future and the history of aerospace technology. She wants to see it fly and say, “I did it!”
Caleb Epps is a junior at the California State University, Long Beach- Antelope Valley Engineering Program (CSULB-AVEP). A graduate of Antelope Valley College with three Associates of Science Degrees in Electrical Engineering, Physics, and Mathematics. He matriculated to this program in the fall semester of 2020. He plans to graduate with a Bachelors of Electrical Engineering in the fall of 2022.
Growing up in the Antelope Valley, Caleb was exposed to sonic booms and the wonders of viewing what was flying in the sky above. Always awed and inspired by events at the Mojave Air and Space Port and the rumors of secret projects being worked on by Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin at Plant 42, Caleb’s fascination with aerospace engineering was spawned. Following employment as a Facilities Assistant with Stratolaunch and a Sales Support person with Fastenal, he was hired in June 2021 as an Avionics Intern by Stratolaunch. This opportunity exposed him to the challenges of hypersonic flight and cemented his determination to complete his engineering degree and devote his life to identifying and solving the challenges that reside in this exciting arena of aerospace engineering.