From Builder to Engineer, Student Constructs Her Future

The Santa Monica High School student is a 2019 Edison Scholars awardee and is planning to pursue a degree in computer engineering.
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Stories : Giving Back
Stories : Giving Back

From Builder to Engineer, Student Constructs Her Future

The Santa Monica High School student is a 2019 Edison Scholars awardee and is planning to pursue a degree in computer engineering.
Photo Credit: Elisa Ferrari
Video Credit: Ernesto Sanchez, Roberto Lazarte and Dean McDonnell

B-Roll (Katie Richards)

When Katie Richards, 17, was 3 years old, she could take apart and put together Legos with ease. When she was 12, her neighbor gave her an old Star Wars Death Star Legos set that she put together in less than two weeks.

It was the first time she knew she liked to build things and by the time she got to Santa Monica High School, she decided to enroll in its four-year engineering program classes. Now, the high school senior’s goal is to study computer engineering in college and her $40,000 scholarship from Edison International is going to help make her academic dreams come true.

“I like following instructions and being able to create something from a pile of tiny things. And I’ve always been good at math and science,” said Katie, as her family, friends and teachers attended her Edison Scholars award surprise recently at her school. “I take a digital electronics class at school and it’s the coolest thing. My friends and I would go in at lunch to work on our projects.” 

Pedro Pizarro, Edison International president and CEO, surprises Katie Sloan, 17, with an Edison Scholars award.
Pedro Pizarro, Edison International president and CEO, surprises Katie Richards, 17, with an Edison Scholars award.

Now, with the help of the Edison Scholars award, Katie has decided to go to Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey and will major in computer engineering.

“I needed to make sure of some financial aid, but this [scholarship] probably seals it for me now,” she said.

The $1.2 million Edison Scholars Program awards $40,000 scholarships each year, paid over four years, to 30 high school seniors pursuing STEM (science, technology, engineering or math) degrees and who live in Southern California Edison’s service area. With the addition of the 2019 Edison Scholars, Edison International has awarded more than $9.9 million in scholarships to 640 students since 2006.

“This is my favorite time of the year when we touch the lives of 30 deserving Edison Scholars,” said Pedro Pizarro, Edison International president and CEO, who presented Katie with the $40,000 scholarship. “[The Edison Scholars program] is a great way to encourage young talent in our communities, especially those studying STEM. These students make us proud.”

Katie Richards, 17, is congratulated by her mother Michelle Richards (right), and her grandparents, Eileen and Ed Kramer.
Katie Richards, 17, is congratulated by her mother Michelle Richards (right), and her grandparents, Eileen and Ed Kramer.

This is my favorite time of the year when we touch the lives of 30 deserving Edison Scholars. [The Edison Scholars program] is a great way to encourage young talent in our communities, especially those studying STEM. These students make us proud.”

Pedro Pizarro, Edison International President and CEO

In addition to holding the editor-in-chief position for her school’s yearbook, Katie tutors math after school. One day she hopes to work on creating traffic infrastructure through her computer engineering degree.

“I want to create things that people may take for granted, but makes their lives smoother and really helps them,” she said in her video application for the Edison Scholars award.

Katie and her school friends have also been working on a “wildfire finder” project that would help monitor conditions that could spark a fire, potentially preventing a wildfire from starting.

“Living in California, we really know how big an effect wildfires have on our lives,” she said. We hope “this device will help save lives.” 

Katie Richards, a senior at Santa Monica High School, holds up her Edison Scholars medal.
Katie Richards, a senior at Santa Monica High School, holds up her Edison Scholars medal.

As Katie accepted her Edison Scholars award, her proud grandparents and mother wiped away tears as they watched the medal being placed around her neck.

“Katie is self-driven, motivated and has such a good heart,” said her mom, Michelle Richards, at the surprise announcement. “Katie has that mentality to figure things out. She’s a problem-solver.”

The Edison Scholars Program is funded by Edison International shareholder dollars, not ratepayer dollars.

For more information about STEM internships and careers at SCE, visit: 
edisoncareers.com.