Juniors and seniors from Carson High School’s Environmental Science, Engineering and Technology (ESET) pathway visited the University of Southern California’s Viterbi School of Engineering. Guided by various professors and graduate students, they toured several materials science labs and learned what it takes to become a revolutionary scientist or engineer whose work can change lives around the world.

The ESET program was established at Carson High School to guide students interested in the science, technology, and mathematics fields to enter the industry. ESET combines high school and industry partnerships to continue building student curiosity around science. One of these industry partnerships includes USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering.  

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“These are great visits for us to engage with the community. We need to explain why it is important to do science and engineering and get [students] curious about it. I feel that the ultimate goal of science and engineering is to cultivate people who think critically. This ensures that we all can progress in the long run,” said Jayakanth Ravichandran, a professor in the Mork Family Department of Chemical Engineering & Materials Science at USC’s Viterbi Engineering School.  

Students visited four different labs and the Center for Electron Microscopy and Microanalysis (CEMMA). In the first four labs they were shown different tools that are used for creating materials that can then be used to improve technology such as the manufacturing materials of cell phones and video games. They saw laser machines, microscopes to view electrons and photons, and fume hoods used to work with dangerous chemicals. 

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At CEMMA, students participated in six different workshops where they learned basic skills used in graduate and professional-level lab work. Alongside CEMMA scientists, they applied their Carson High School math and science skills to better understand the size of electrons and photons and how they can be used to innovate the world around them.  

Ravichandran believes that the exposure students gain to STEM fields will pique their curiosity and motivate them to enter these booming industries. “[My favorite moment was] when they realized that they can get silicon from sand. Some of them knew, but knowing such simple things will help them appreciate what they see in nature, and why we should always be curious,” added Ravichandran.