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Engineering students to tour West Coast innovation hubs

Friday, August 15, 2014

LAWRENCE — A group of students in the Self Engineering Leadership Fellows Program at the University of Kansas School of Engineering will have a unique opportunity this month to enhance the skills that provide the foundation for the program.

Twenty-three seniors in the program will travel Aug. 16-23 to California, where they will visit some of the world’s leading engineering and technology firms, including Google, SpaceX and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The experience is known as “SELF on the Road.”

“The goal is for the senior Fellows to broaden their professional insights and networks,” said SELF Fellow Amanda Parks, Leavenworth senior in electrical engineering and co-leader of the initiative. “The end result of the experience is to highlight the seven SELF pillars — communication, management, interpersonal skills, engineering, business acumen, entrepreneurship and leadership.”

The Fellows will visit Los Angeles, San Jose and San Francisco on their weeklong experience, touring companies with ties to KU in each city.

“KU alumni have been extremely generous with their time and knowledge. At each location, at least one KU alumnus has agreed to take time out of their busy schedule and spend time with us. We are grateful for their help,” Parks said.

Tours of Occidental Petroleum, Jacobs Engineering and Cisco Systems are some of the other highlights of the initiative. Parks said the insight gained should prove valuable for her senior year and her transition to a career in industry.

“I hope to learn more about how various types of engineering work together to make a company and its products successful,” Parks said. “I also hope to broaden my personal and professional networks, especially at the technology-based companies we will be touring.”

KU administrators expect this program will get students to look at innovation and industry broadly and beyond what they might experience during a summer internship.

“This journey will help students pull together all the expertise and experience they’ve gained while at KU and put those in context with advances taking place at some of the most innovative and well-known organizations in the world,” said SELF Program Director Heidie Grove-Tosaka. “It will also give them an opportunity to network with KU alumni as well as other professional engineers in fast-paced industry.”

In addition to company visits, SELF Fellows will attend a School of Engineering reception for prospective students, alumni and friends of KU in southern California, hosted by Occidental Petroleum. Fellows also will visit students in the Knowledge is Power Program Heartwood Academy in San Jose. KIPP is nationwide network of college-preparatory public charter schools dedicated to preparing students in underserved communities for success in college and in life.

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