SCE Engineers Inspire the Next Generation

A diverse group of engineers and local students explore rewarding career paths during National Engineers Week.
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Stories : People

SCE Engineers Inspire the Next Generation

A diverse group of engineers and local students explore rewarding career paths during National Engineers Week.
Photo Credit: Shulie Tornel

As the fifth and sixth grade students at Euclid Elementary School in Ontario enter the multipurpose room, they are greeted by tables full of jelly beans and toothpicks — and a diverse group of engineers from Southern California Edison.

For National Engineers Week, Feb. 18-24, the team visits local schools to speak to students about engineering as a rewarding career path. The SCE team discussed engineering principles and related them to everyday devices like lightbulbs, smartphones, alarm clocks, spaceships, computers and electric vehicles.

Euclid Elementary is a dual-language school, and Monica Ayala, the principal, encourages professionals to speak to the students to expose them to STEM (science, technology, engineering or math) careers and activities.

A man and a woman help a group of young students build their jelly bean tower using toothpicks.
Victor Mendez (middle), SCE apparatus engineer, and Suthasinee (Sue) Virnig (right), SCE transmission system planning engineer, assist 11-year-old Francisco and his group as they start a jelly bean tower.

“We value the opportunity to have Southern California Edison engineers come in and give students STEM exposure and hands-on activities,” said Ayala. “These engineers represent the demographics of our school so students can see themselves in that career in the future.”

Early exposure to STEM promotes curiosity, critical thinking, decision-making and problem solving. The students practiced these lessons as they worked together and shared creative ideas to construct jelly bean towers.

“I think maybe one day I can build airplanes,” said Margaret, 10-years-old.

“I’m interested in video games and system engineering to make new devices,” said Francisco, 11-years-old.

“It was fun. It was interesting to learn about computers and what they can do,” said Dalia, 10-years-old.

“Our team is diverse, so it allows young students, especially girls, to see that everyday people have important jobs,” said Corrine Rivera, an SCE apparatus engineer who oversees circuit breakers and AC/DC panels for the company. “This could help them gain an interest in science, technology, engineering and math and a career.”

A woman helps a group of young girls in the fifth grade brainstorm a tower concept by drawing on paper.
Corrine Rivera, SCE apparatus engineer, assists 10-year-olds Dalia (left) and Margaret (right) and their group as they brainstorm the design of a tower.

The STEM workforce in the U.S. has gradually diversified in the past decade. However, Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans and women are still underrepresented among STEM-related degrees.

Adrian Luna, SCE electrical engineering manager, has been leading this student outreach program for 11 years and recruits a diverse group of engineers within the company to participate. One of the speakers, Edgar Pabon-Hernandez, received his electrical engineering degree from the Industrial University of Santander in Colombia and now works at SCE as an apparatus engineer.

“We can introduce students to professionals who share their identities and look like them. They benefit by seeing the possibilities in their future careers,” Luna said.

The group also visited Bon View Elementary School in Ontario and Louis VanderMolen Fundamental Elementary in Jurupa Valley to speak to students. For these engineers, some of them parents of young children, it’s a priority to bring STEM-related careers into the classroom.

“I got involved in this outreach because I have two daughters myself, one of them in the fourth grade. At this stage of their lives, they are curious and open to learning how STEM applies to real life careers,” said Victor Mendez, SCE apparatus engineer. “We want to show them that there are endless possibilities.”

For more information on careers at SCE, visit