Each fall, with the support of Chevron and Bakersfield College’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) grant, students start school early for Week Zero: a six-day orientation which exposes students to problem solving and team work dynamics. Held during the two weeks prior to the start of fall semester, Week Zero is designed for students majoring in science, engineering, and mathematics. During the 2013 Week Zero program, students participated in projects in various subjects, including biology, chemistry, green technology, industrial design with SolidWorks, and leadership training. In addition, break out sessions were offered for engineering statics, interdisciplinary filmmaking, computer integrated manufacturing, microcontrollers, and mathematics. This program, which has been offered for several years, had more than 150 students participating in 2013, and 14 faculty continue to guide the programming.
To encourage participation in Week Zero and majors in STEM careers, an Engineering Open House was hosted in November for local high school students. More than 120 students from 12 high schools in Kern County participated in competitions in Solidworks, Inventor, projectile launching, and robotics. This event highlighted the strength of the STEM program at Bakersfield College and provided important information on STEM careers to prospective students.
Related to STEM is MESA, the Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement program. MESA has grown to more than 150 students who receive tutoring support from seven peer mentors who offered more than 40 hours per week of free tutoring for these students.
In order to continue to foster interest in MESA and STEM, students with engineering majors had the opportunity to attend the National Society of Hispanic Engineers conference in Indianapolis. Students attended workshops held by engineering professionals and explored employment and internship opportunities at prominent employers such as Google, Intel, PG&E, and General Mills.
In addition, MESA pre-medical students attended the 11th annual UC Davis Pre-Medical and Pre-Health Professions National Conference. Students were provided the opportunity to meet with deans of admission, admission officers, faculty, and staff from Harvard Medical School, New York University School of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, The John Hopkins University School of Medicine, and more. At the conference, information about interviewing for medical schools and MCAT preparation was provided.
Part of understanding the needs of students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics programs is the demographics and expectations of students attending Bakersfield College. In the STEM Conversations series, Bakersfield College faculty in STEM fields met in September to learn details on newly-gathered data about first generation students, and students majoring in STEM disciplines in particular, at Bakersfield College. A second STEM Conversation occurred in early November and entailed presentations on the use of the Smartboard and BriteLinks technology in math courses.
MESA Director Connie Gonzalez worked to establish a robust MESA Advisory Board with an expanded membership of industry, faculty, and student representatives. This group works to guide the STEM disciplines and developed a mission statement, Strategic Plan, and Marketing Plan.
STEM programs also work to keep the technology and understanding of fields current. A two-day session, facilitated by STEM Counselor Cynthia Quintanilla and Bakersfield College English professor Paula Parks, English professor, educated STEM Mentors, STEM Assistants, and English Express Coaches on lesson planning, group dynamics, conflict resolution, and much more. These training sessions have continued once a month on Fridays and have even been interactively presented to STEM Assistants located at the Delano Campus.