The Santa Clara SES Experience
This July, 90 high school students will have the opportunity to take part in a five-day immersive college engineering experience. Participants will live in SCU dorm rooms, attend introductory workshops taught by SCU engineering faculty, and explore various topics ranging from Bioengineering to Computer Science and Engineering. The program, Summer Engineering Seminar (SES), is entering its 33rd year as one of the School of Engineering’s most competitive outreach initiatives.
SES and its counterpart program, Spring Engineering Education Days (SEEDs), are currently run by Ricardo Padilla, Jr. – the School of Engineering’s Programs Director for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in STEM. Padilla explains that SES offers high school students a taste of college life. It’s also a great introduction to engineering for students without previous exposure to the field. Participants explore many engineering disciplines while also receiving presentations from the career center, admissions office, SCU faculty, and undergraduate student mentors. What makes SES unique? Padilla stresses participation and mentorship from the existing SCU community (plus, it’s free).
Engineering alumna Marieli Rubio ’21 attended SES after her sophomore year of high school in 2015. Before the program, she had an interest in engineering but no idea how many opportunities there were within the field. And though she grew up in Northern California, she had never heard of Santa Clara University nor been to the San Jose area. Rubio credits SES for inspiring her to choose Santa Clara and study Civil Engineering: “I found [SES] really valuable because it was actually my first time on a college campus, where I was able to sleep in the dorms and check out the library, the cafeteria, sit in a college classroom… it was a really eye-opening experience for me just to learn what college was like, but then also to learn if engineering was something I wanted to pursue.”
Her SES student mentors played an invaluable role in her enthusiasm by sharing advice about choosing a major, balancing school with extracurriculars, and navigating college in general. Rubio remains in contact with one of her SES mentors today and later became a mentor for others. As a Santa Clara undergraduate, she was the Director of Community Outreach for Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), where she organized club-run events similar to SES. A significant part of her college experience was diversifying STEM and advocating for women of color in engineering –– a passion sparked by the relationships she formed at SES.
Current engineering senior Daryn Browne ’22 attended SES in 2016 and was equally motivated by the networking opportunities. “It was really inspiring seeing women in STEM fields and hearing about their experiences at SCU. We did so many cool projects and competitions that completely changed my perspective on what I wanted to do with the rest of my life and made me realize I would enjoy going into the STEM field in the future,” she shares. Now a Bioengineering major, Browne also credits SES for guiding her towards Santa Clara.
Rubio adds, “I really encourage high school students to pursue SES because it forces you to step out of your comfort zone, not only to meet other students but to learn about how powerful engineering is and how fun it can be. Yes, it’s rigorous, but it’s also lots of teamwork, lots of problem-solving, [and] critical thinking.” When considering engineering in college, she expresses that early exposure is critical. SES can ignite a student’s engineering passion or help them realize they want to pursue a different field (and that’s okay too).
If you’re a high school student interested in applying, the online application is due Friday, March 18 by 5 p.m. Accepted applicants will be notified via email by Friday, April 22, 2022