Graduate Pathways to STEM

What is Bay Area GPS?
The mission of Bay Area Graduate Pathways to STEM (GPS) is to inspire diverse talent to become the next generation of innovative leaders through advanced engineering degrees. Bay Area GPS is a two day conference where students attend informative workshops addressing the benefits of pursuing an advanced degree, both MS and PhD, while also preparing for graduate school and the application process. GPS promotes graduate school opportunities to underrepresented minorities (URM), first generation and low income students at Bay Area, Northern California and select Southern California universities.

Why should I attend Bay Area GPS?
Students attending the Bay Area GPS will have access to information for applying to graduate school, understand how graduate school can benefit their education and future goals, learn how to prepare a graduate school application, network with peers who will also be applying to graduate school and be paired with a peer adviser - a current graduate student - who will help with the application process.

Program highlights include:

  • Workshops
  • Networking
  • Professional panel
  • Graduate school panel
  • Lunch with Peer Advisers
  • BBQ
  • Graduate school prep
  • Graduate school application details

How do I apply for Bay Area GPS?
The Application for 2017 is not yet available.  Please check back in September 2017.

How do I know if I've been accepted to Bay Area GPS?
Students will be contacted by email to confirm their registration.

How much does Bay Area GPS cost?
There is no cost to attend. Attendees must provide their own travel accommodations and provide Saturday night lodging.

For more information contact Meltem Erol.

Program at a glance

How to apply

Applications for 2017 will be available in September 2017.

Transportation and lodging

GPS is unable to provide transportation and lodging for participants. Attendee’s should develop their transportation and lodging plan beforehand.
 
For help in navigating UC Berkeley, an interactive map of the university is located online.
 
GPS check-in will be held in the Bechtel Engineering Center. The nearest parking lots are the Lower Hearst or Upper Hearst parking structures. Parking fee is charged by the hour. You can also download the map with the locations highlighted. For street parking, you might try Parking Zone G.
 
Recommendations for lodging can be found online through Visit Services.

Peer Advising

All students attending Bay Area GPS will have the opportunity to be paired with a Peer Adviser, a current graduate student who has recently experienced the graduate admissions process. During the conference, Peer Advisers will lead a writing workshop with their students and be available to answer any questions on the topics covered in the conference. Students will be paired with Peer Advisers based on engineering background and professional interests.

Applications for 2017 Peer Advisers will be available in September 2017.

Meet the committee

Christina FuentesChristina Fuentes, Bay Area GPS Committee Chair
B.S. Biomedical Engineering, 2014, Northwestern University
UC Berkeley, Bioengineering, Research area: Biomaterials and Stem Cell Engineering
PhD Student

 

How did you learn about graduate school? Why did you decide to go to graduate school?
I learned about research opportunities available in undergrad, summer research programs, and graduate school by reaching out to others. In college, I knew I enjoyed doing research, but I didn’t know how that would fit into a career until I started talking to faculty and students, going to research workshops, and attending conferences just like the Bay Area GPS. I had many people guide me along the way and I would not be where I am today without their help!

What extracurricular activities/outreach efforts are you involved in? Why?
I’m currently involved in several outreach groups on campus. I’m involved in Bigbear, the Bioengineering Association of Students (BEAST), and the Bay Area Scientists in Schools at Berkeley (BASIS) program. As part of Bigbear at UC-Berkeley, I volunteer for events aimed at mentoring undergraduates interested in graduate school. As a part of BEAST, I am one of four members on the Peer Advising committee that pairs prospective students with graduate students and plans events throughout the year to help students transition into graduate school and feel connected to the Bioengineering community. I am also involved with Bay Area Scientists in Schools at Berkeley (BASIS) where volunteers develop and teach a scientific lesson/demonstration for elementary students in the Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco communities. The goal of the program is to educate and motivate students to become involved in the STEM fields. I’m currently on a team of five graduate students teaching a lesson on clogged arteries and the current technologies engineers have developed to treat this issue. I’m involved in these outreach activities because I want to help others discover their passion in STEM.

Hector Perez

Hector Perez, Chair Emeritus
B.S. Mechanical Engineering, 2010, California State University, Northridge
M.S.E. Mechanical Engineering, 2012, University of Michigan
Ph.D. Civil and Environmental Engineering, 2016, University of California, Berkeley
Research Area: Control, Estimation, and Validation of Lithium Ion Battery Systems; Ph.D. Graduate

How did you learn about graduate school? Why did you decide to go to graduate school?
I first learned about fully funded graduate school opportunities during my 2008 summer internship at the Ford Motor Company from an intern who was a GEM Fellow at the University of Michigan. I then made it my goal to learn more about these opportunities at the 2008 HENAAC Conference where I spoke to graduate students from the University of Michigan (U of M). They invited me to apply for the U of M Engineering Graduate Symposium and GEM GRAD Lab, which I attended the following week. Excited about the opportunities I had learned about, I also attended the 2008 Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) Conference GEM GRAD Lab where I met graduate students from various Universities.

What extracurricular activities/outreach efforts are you involved in? Why?
I have been involved in extracurricular activities since 2007 during undergraduate years at CSUN. I first began as a member whom attended the 2007 Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) Conference and was able to see and experience the vast opportunities that the organization had to offer (150+ companies, multiple workshops, networking events, competitions, career fair, etc.). I then made it my mission to bring awareness about life changing opportunities to as many students as possible, including those from minority backgrounds like myself. Since then I have served as the 2008 SHPE CSUN Chapter President, 2009 American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) CSUN Student Chapter Chair, 2009 SHPE Region II District 1 Vice Regional Student Representative, 2010 SHPE National Graduate Committee Advocacy Chair, 2011 SHPE U of M Grad Committee Co-Founder and Membership Chair, a 2012 SHPE Conference Boeing Recruiter, and the 2014 Latino/a Association of Graduate Students in Engineering and Sciences (LAGSES) Outreach Chair. Currently, I am helping plan the Bay Area GPS to spread awareness on the different types of graduate school opportunities for our community. Through these experiences and everyday life I have been able to work towards my mission of spreading awareness about the multiple opportunities (internship, research, scholarships, fellowships, full time careers, graduate school, etc.) available, so that students do not miss out on life changing opportunities.

Will Tarpeh

Will Tarpeh, Programming Chair
B.S. Chemical Engineering, 2012, Stanford University
M.S. Environmental Engineering, 2013, UC Berkeley
Environmental Engineering, UC Berkeley, Research area: Converting human waste into valuable products
PhD Student

How did you learn about graduate school? Why did you decide to go to graduate school?
I learned about graduate school from a few key mentors during my undergraduate career. I decided to go because I wanted to combine my interests in engineering and international development, become an expert in that combination, and possibly become a professor.

What extracurricular activities/outreach efforts are you involved in?
I have taught at SMASH Academy, a summer program for low-income, minority, and first-generation high school students, served on the Bay Area GPS committee for the second year, and tutored with Project Touchdown in Berkeley. 

Raj Kumar

Raj Kumar, Peer Advising Chair
B.S. Materials Science and Engineering, 2014, Northwestern University
UC Berkeley, Materials Science and Engineering, Research area: Energy Storage and Electronic Materials
PhD Student

 

How did you learn about graduate school? Why did you decide to go to graduate school?
I first started thinking about graduate school during the summer after my sophomore year in undergrad. I was an REU student at the University of Illinois at Chicago and my REU advisors held a few different talks about graduate school. They talked about their experiences in both industry and academia and how their time in grad school helped define their career paths and molded them into better researchers and engineers. After my REU, I began talking to other graduate students in my department and getting the inside scoop about things like the application process and picking an advisor.

What extracurricular activities/outreach efforts are you involved in?
Here at Berkeley I have volunteered with Bay Area Scientists in Schools (BASIS) and Students for Environmental Energy Development (SEED). Through these programs, I have helped develop and teach science lessons for elementary students in Oakland and Berkeley. Students in our sessions have gotten to make solar ovens, lemon batteries, and marble roller coasters to learn about energy and its various forms. All of our outreach events are aimed at getting young students thinking creatively and interested in scientific concepts. 

Maribel Jaquez

Maribel Jaquez, Speaker Recruitment Chair
B.S. Mechanical Engineering, 2012, UC Irvine
M.S. Mechanical Engineering, 2015, UC Berkeley
UC Berkeley, Mechanical Engineering, Research area: Advanced Oxide Semiconductor Materials
PhD Student

How did you learn about graduate school?
During my sophomore year at UC Irvine, I met a senior student in the process of applying to graduate school. I had heard about graduate school but because I did not fully understand what it was, I asked him many questions pertaining the subject. He not only explained what graduate school was, but also emphasized the numerous funding opportunities available making graduate school attractive to me. I later became a University of California Leadership Excellence through Advanced Degrees (UC LEADs) scholar where I learned more about graduate school, such as how to apply and how a graduate degree can benefit me in the future.

What extracurricular activities/outreach efforts are you involved in?
During my academic career, I have been involved in various outreach efforts. Each year I return to the parish in my hometown to share my college experience at an annual College Night. At UC Irvine, I volunteered for three years at the annual MAES (Latinos in Science and Engineering) Science Extravaganza where over 150 middle school students visit UC Irvine for a full day of hands-on, interactive science presentations to create awareness of the STEM fields. As a graduate student at UC Berkeley, I have been involved with the Science and Engineering Community Outreach (SECO) organization where I have had the opportunity to visit numerous classrooms to present science lessons to second graders. Additionally, I have also been involved in various recruiting events such as the 2014 Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) Conference, to motivate students to apply for graduate school. I have also been in a number of graduate student panels, were I have discussed how to apply for graduate school, how to visit graduate schools before applying, and how to fund a graduate degree. As the previous Latino/a Association of Graduate Students in Engineering and Sciences (LAGSES) Corporate Liaison, I have also organized events with industry to provide insight into career choices. As a Hispanic Engineers and Scientists (HES) graduate student member, I mentor, provide feedback and motivation to the undergraduate members for them succeed in their academic career. Seeing students I have interacted with attend college or graduate school has shown me that I have the ability to inspire students to pursue an education. These interactions show the direct impact that I have in the community, which motivates me to continue my outreach efforts.

Claire Kunkle

Claire Kunkle, Student Recruitment Chair
B.S. Mechanical Engineering, 2014, Santa Clara University
M.S. Mechanical Engineering, 2016, UC Berkeley
UC Berkeley, Mechanical Engineering, Research Area: Heat Transfer for Electronics Cooling Applications
PhD Student

How did you learn about graduate school? Why did you decide to go to graduate school?
I learned about graduate school during an REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) after my sophomore year in college. It was my first hands on research opportunity and I got to work with other graduate students. It was a great experience, so I started looking into graduate school after that. I also really wanted to become a professor and to be a mentor for other female engineers since I never got to have that many female professors in my engineering classes. So my logic was that I needed a PhD in order to be considered for a professor position. That’s what keeps me motivated.

What extracurricular activities/outreach efforts are you involved in? 
I was very heavily involved in choir and music all throughout my undergrad. I sang in large ensembles and small chamber singing groups. Now, I do music at weddings and funerals. So I guess you could call me a wedding singer. Doing music is a good thing to have on the side when I need a break from regular school work. I also like to de-stress by cooking. I also spend a nice chunk of time doing outreach activities with middle and high school students in the Bay Area. I am a scientist with the Be A Scientist program, and I also do hands on engineering talks in science classrooms around the area. I love to get students excited about STEM fields!

Kayla Wolf

Kayla Wolf, Secretary Chair
B.S. Chemistry, 2014, Michigan State University
B.S. Human Biology, 2014, Michigan State University
UCB-UCSF Graduate Program in Bioengineering, Research area: Tissue Engineering, Biomaterials
PhD Student

How did you learn about graduate school? Why did you decide to go to graduate school?
I learned about graduate school after participating in an undergraduate research program at my university. I realized that I loved research and have not stopped since. Graduate school was a logical next step to continue in this type of career path.

What extracurricular activities/outreach efforts are you involved in?
I participate in my departmental graduate student group and help organize student seminars, increase diversity within the department, and mentor incoming students. I also am a member of the University Village Garden Committee and help organize and maintain a garden space for several hundred.

Brian Salazar

Brian Salazar, Publicity Chair
B.S Mechanical Engineering, 2015, UC Berkeley
UC Berkeley, Mechanical Engineering, Research area: Manufacturing
PhD Student

 

How did you learn about graduate school? Why did you decide to go to graduate school?
I decided to apply to graduate school after doing research in the design for nano manufacturing lab.

What extracurricular activities/outreach efforts are you involved in?
This summer, I was a projects leader at the SMASH academy. As a project leader I worked with 5 students designing, 3D printing, and testing small-scale bridges. Last year I was a mentor at GPS’s first conference. 

Joel Sanchez

Joel Sanchez
B.S. Chemical Engineering, 2015, UC Riverside
Chemical Engineering Student, Stanford University
PhD student

 

How did you learn about graduate school? Why did you decide to go to graduate school?
I started my college career as community college student at Modesto Junior College. From there I transferred to the University of California, Riverside where I worked under Dr. Nosang Myung and published four papers under the field of water remediation using nanotechnology. My decision to pursue graduate school was cemented by the Amgen Scholars program at UC Berkeley. I am now enrolled in the Chemical Engineering PhD program at Stanford University where I seek to create efficient materials for the water splitting reaction in order to make hydrogen in a renewable fashion.

What extracurricular activities/outreach efforts are you involved in?
I am very adamant in offering and providing resources to college students who do not know what opportunities are available to them in order to make their college career a success. At Stanford, I am involved in MESA, Barrio Assistance, and a bi-weekly program that tutors underrepresented minorities on the weekend. I hopes to continue this passion with the Graduate Pathways Symposium.

Shaheen Jeeawoody

Shaheen Jeeawoody, Logistics Chair
B.S. Bioengineering, 2014, Stanford University 
Bioengineering, UC Berkeley / UCSF joint graduate program, Research area: BioMEMS and Stem Cell Engineering
PhD Student

 
How did you learn about graduate school? Why did you decide to go to graduate school?
Both of my parents pursued graduate studies and emphasized how valuable this investment was in their lives and careers. Through an amazing research opportunity during freshman year (that continued throughout my undergraduate career thanks to SSEA, SURF, and REU programs on campus), I realized that translational research was fascinating to me. Talking to graduate students and professors made it clear that a PhD would be the best path for me to gain technical expertise in bioengineering and pursue this passion for research in STEM.
 

What extracurricular activities/outreach efforts are you involved in? 

I am currently the Alumni/Industry co-Liaison for BEAST (the Bioengineering Association of Students), organizing seminars by PhD alumni to talk to current students about post-PhD career paths. With BASIS (the Bay Area Scientists in Schools), I work with a team of 5 graduate students to teach students in local elementary schools about atherosclerosis and bioengineering techniques to treat blocked arteries. For two years, I served as the Speaker Series co-chair for GWE (Graduate Women in Engineering), organizing seminars to connect current graduate students with awesome female engineers and scientists.

 

Jorge MerazJorge Meraz
B.S. Environmental Science, 2014, Loyola University Chicago
M.S. Environmental Engineering, 2016, Stanford University
Stanford University, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Research area: Environmental Engineering 
PhD Student

How did you learn about graduate school? Why did you decide to go to graduate school?
I first learned about graduate school during my junior year at Loyola University Chicago. At that time I was getting ready to study abroad and had heard about a research opportunity through the McNair Scholars Program. I got involved with research while abroad and continued through into my senior year. I decided to go to graduate school because, through McNair, I found that I enjoyed research. 
 
What extracurricular activities/outreach efforts are you involved in? 
While on campus, I engage in activities where I can meet new people and learn about what they do. It's been great in that it makes transitioning into a new environment easier, this was something l learned while abroad! This upcoming school year, I will be involved with mentoring students from a high school in San Jose. The program is structured such that students are guided through questions about science projects that they have decided to move forward with. 

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