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Sofia Brumbaugh Spotlight photo Square

Sofia Brumbaugh Spotlight photo Square

Student Spotlight: Sofia Brumbaugh ’23

What brought you to Santa Clara University?

I participated in the Summer Engineering Seminar (SES) in Santa Clara the summer after my junior year of high school. So that got the idea of Santa Clara in my head. And then, when I was applying to schools, I knew I wanted to go into engineering, but I wanted to go to a smaller liberal arts school because I didn't want to lose that well-rounded education. Learning and being taught from every angle is important and necessary for engineers and anyone in general. Santa Clara's focus on sustainability and teaching the whole individual aligns with what I’ve been looking for.

How did you get into Electrical Engineering?

It's been a combination of things. I've always enjoyed and excelled at math in school. When I was younger, I attended a summer engineering camp for girls, which got me interested in the field. Then, in high school, I took various math and physics courses, and the support from teachers pushed the idea of going into STEM. What sealed the deal was the Summer Engineering Seminar at Santa Clara the summer after my junior year of high school. At SES, we were introduced to the different engineering fields and took many courses in each field. I took a mini-lecture with professor Bob Schaefer in electrical engineering and logic design, and that hit all the boxes for me.

How are you feeling after receiving the 2022 John W. Estey Outstanding PES Scholar Award?

It was quite shocking, to be honest. It was the second time I had applied, and it was a great feeling to see that all my hard work had finally paid off.

What is the John W. Estey Outstanding PES Scholar Award, and what are the requirements?

The PES is their power and energy society. The scholarship is given to students pursuing either an undergraduate or graduate degree in the power and energy industry within electrical engineering who show some dedication to that field and plan to pursue it in the future. It requires a few kinds of experiences, transcripts, and essays. But it's broken down into eight or nine regions in the US, so the west coast is one region, and the John W. Estey Outstanding PES Scholar Award goes to the top achieving applicant in the region.

Where do you see yourself after graduation?

I'm doing the four plus one program, so I will be here for one more year and graduate with a master's. I'm looking to stay in the Bay Area and get involved with sustainable energy to hopefully impact underserved populations and communities who don't necessarily have stable or consistent access to energy.

Can you discuss what you are doing for your Senior Design Project?

I am working on a microgrid control system, where I'll be simulating what a basic microgrid would look like and how it works. It's a control system that would ensure that the microgrid is stable. If there are any issues along the main grid, how can it separate itself from the grid, remain independent, and still maintain the power and energy needed by the loads?

What makes you excited about the future of electrical engineering?

Currently, in the power and energy industry, environmental justice and some social justice are at the forefront of people's minds, and how energy and creating a new design for the power grid can benefit both of those areas. Right now, there is a focus on the idea of microgrids and how they can impact the environment by integrating more renewable energy. In addition, work being done to improve reliable and sustainable energy will benefit underserved populations. These two ideas are prevalent in people's minds in the power and energy industry, and I'm excited to see where they go.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into electrical engineering?

Specifically for women trying to get into engineering, it's important to be completely honest with them that it will be hard and a fight. You will notice that you are one of few in most of your classes. The field of engineering, specifically electrical engineering, needs more women and their perspectives. There is so much room for improvement, and just pushing forward in a better direction. Yes, the field is challenging, but you will also be supported. People always want to help you, especially at Santa Clara University. The electrical engineering department does a great job of having super intelligent and powerful women role models who are always willing to help and offer support.

Anything else you would like to add?

I am part of the club women's ultimate frisbee team, which is a great group of women. We have a lot of women in STEM on the team who are nerdy thinkers. It's a great time and a fantastic way to balance how stressful academics can be. So it's an excellent opportunity for anyone who is very into academics and needs an outlet when feeling overwhelmed.