When Pierce College staff put together a panel of local professionals for its first annual STEM Week, they asked Cloud77 CEO Adrian Harper to share his experience and knowledge with students, and he was happy to oblige.
The panel was a part of an on-campus celebration of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), which took place February 22 and 23 at Pierce College. The event included a majors fair on February 22, which included local companies taking the time to meet with students and to discuss their organizations and different STEM opportunities, and the panel, on February 23, which gave students interested in math and science a chance to receive first-hand knowledge from professionals in related fields.
The professionals panel included Cloud 77 CEO, Adrian Harper. Harper founded the San Fernando Valley-based company in 2011, after earning his MBA in Entrepreneurship and Bachelor’s degrees in Computer Science and Communication. He has worked with notable companies such as Microsoft, Apple, and Yelp. The other panelists were Dr. Kathleen Dor, a physician at Kaiser Permanente who received her BA in biology from UCLA and continued onto medical school; Luis Vasquez, an engineer at Medtronic who received his AS in electronics from LAVC and BS in Industrial Technology from Cal State LA; Julie L. Elbogen, a senior criminalist who transferred to UCLA from Pierce and received his B.A. in Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology; Tracie Dean Ponder, founder of B-STEM Project, a non-profit that focuses on creating opportunities for women and young girls to engage in STEM careers; and Neftali Aguilera, an engineer at Hanmar Corporation who earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering from CSUN.
Around 70 people, comprised mainly of young individuals looking for ways to advance their careers in STEM, attended the panel event. The students had the opportunity to participate in a Q&A with the panel and get insight on how the panelists got into their professions, and how students could individually stand out to get ahead in their fields. Other topics discussed were innovations to look out for, characteristics that make people successful in STEM disciplines, typical duties in the represented careers, and important career choices. The panelists also tackled the topic of women in STEM and offered advice and motivation to the women in the audience who were interested in pursuing a career in the field. They also gave general advice to students about studying and how to prepare for the difficult material that they will encounter as they progress through school.
The event served as an important bridge between students and experts in STEM fields. It stressed the importance of encouraging young people to engage in math and science and reminding them that many people from diverse backgrounds can help put them on the right track.