Scholarships Help UC Irvine Students Get a Head Start on STEM Degrees

Since 2000, Edison International and UCI have helped 275 transfer students graduate from college.

Juan Lopez may still be a student at the University of California, Irvine, but he’s already putting his future mechanical engineering degree to good use. He’s on a team to develop an unmanned search and rescue solar aircraft.

It’s a project that will ultimately result in a remote-controlled plane with a variety of sensors that can identify a ground target while it’s still in flight.

And Lopez credits an Edison International scholarship for giving him the chance to get a head start on his future career.

“Being able to participate in projects like this has helped me grow as a student and helped me gain real engineering experience that I wouldn't have been able to achieve if I would have to work to pay off school,” he said.

“I sincerely want to thank Edison for this amazing scholarship and for this opportunity for me and for allowing me to follow my goals.”

Since 2000, Edison International has helped students like Lopez. In conjunction with UC Irvine, the company has helped 275 transfer students achieve their STEM (science, technology, engineering or math) degrees with two-year, $15,000 scholarships.

Officially named the UCI Edison Scholarship, the collaboration focuses on disadvantaged students who need an economic boost to pursue a higher education. Today, the program has a 98 percent success rate of students graduating with a STEM degree.

"The support from Edison has enabled us to bridge the critical funding gap for talented students from our local community college who think a STEM degree from an institution like UCI is out of their reach,” said Dr. Stephanie Reyes-Tuccio, executive director of the Center for Educational Partnerships at UCI. “Not only does it get them in the door, the ongoing support and services we are able to provide ensures that they leave with their degree and a promising future.” 

As a computer game science major at UC Irvine, Daniel Lara needs a computer powerful enough to create games on. But his seven-year-old laptop and a battery that only lasted about an hour wasn’t cutting it.

But thanks to the UCI Edison scholarship he recently received, he bought himself a new laptop with the latest software to create his games.

“I truly feel blessed to have received this scholarship and I now have the tools I need to create anything I can imagine,” he said.

For the past 16 years, Edison International has supported various programs at UCI, including the UCI Edison Scholarship Program, where they have provided $2 million in matching funds.

“Scholarships provide the underserved the opportunity to attend college where otherwise they may not have had the opportunity to do so. Through our partnership with UCI over the years, many students who have been afforded this opportunity have taken full advantage to advance their STEM careers,” said Tammy Tumbling, director of Philanthropy and Community Investment at Southern California Edison.

“At Edison, we fund education because one of our priorities is helping to nurture scholars and STEM professionals of tomorrow. This is where our future workforce will come from.”