Friday, June 28, 2013

Summer engineering program delivers hands-on experience

From left: Jimi Aguirre and his teammates Ulkar Alakbarova,
Brandon Caffie,  Dominika Wilk and Dillon Clark-Oden
following their app presentation at the Intel Ultimate
Engineering Experience.
Jimi Aguirre and his four teammates stand before a panel of judges, pitching their idea for a mobile app to help get children active. They developed their idea after hearing a presentation by the Chandler/Gilbert Family YMCA. After three minutes, a timer sounds and the judges ask questions for the next two minutes.

Aguirre and his team then return to their seats to listen to the remaining teams present. At the end of the day, a different proposal wins first place, but Aguirre and his team spend the next two weeks learning HTML and JavaScript language to build the app they pitched. Following that project, new teams will form and build a flying robot.

Following that project, new teams will form and learn how a microcontroller works and program it to control a flying quadcopter, a multicopter that is lifted and propelled by four rotors.

These are the experiences of the students participating in the Intel Ultimate Engineering Experience, a six-week summer program for undergrads exploring engineering. The curriculum focuses on building the skills students need in the workplace such as collaboration and critical thinking as well as gaining hands-on engineering experience.

“The program is intended to inspire the next generation of engineers and help them realize that engineering is really boundary-less,” said Cynthia Del Frate, program manager for the Intel Ultimate Engineering Experience. “It also gives us an opportunity to identify and connect with the top local talent.”

Hosted on the Chandler-Gilbert Community College’s (CGCC) Pecos campus, the program is one of three occurring this summer. The other two are in Sacramento, Calif. and Portland, Ore. The students work with Intel engineers and volunteers as they create and develop solutions designed to improve people’s lives.

   Aguirre, a sophomore at CGCC, feels honored to have been selected. At age 16, he moved out of his home, never completing high school. He pursued his passion for music and struggled to make ends meet. In 2007, he attended the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences in Gilbert and began his own recording studio. Being self-employed was “not as stable as I envisioned.”

Aguirre enrolled at CGCC and, while exploring career options in a college success class, realized he wanted a life for himself and his family beyond what an associates degree would provide. A subsequent class with biology professor Pushpa Ramakrishna reawakened his love of science and math.

“When Professor Ramakrishna teaches, you can feel it; her passion is so tangible. Being in her class reminded me of when I was young and my childhood fascination for all things science. When kids were buying comic books with their allowance, I was buying a microscope,” said Aguirre.

These two experiences helped Aguirre decide to pursue a bachelor’s degree in engineering. He has since joined the honor society Phi Theta Kappa and earned two scholarships. He continues to take 12 credits each semester while working full-time at two jobs.

“It’s challenging right now, but I focus on the future,” said Aguirre. “This experience will help me get there by networking and learning from professionals in the field.”

Networking is another important skill the program encourages the students to develop. “A powerful network will get you everywhere,” said Del Frate. “Not only for finding a job but for career growth.”
The last week of the program will help students develop job search skills, resumes and interviewing skills.

“This program is more broad than I expected and has been valuable for gaining experiences and skills that will help me provide my family with the life that I envision for us,” said Aguirre.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Harvest Festival covered by Maricopa News

Maricopa News covered the Harvest Festival coordinated by the Humanitarian and Environmental Action Team at the Pecos Campus Environmental Technology Center at the close of the spring semester. The story is last in the segment and starts at time mark 1:52.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Graduation from academy fulfills law enforcement dream

Fetuao Fetuao (top left) stands with fellow June 5
graduates from CGCC’s Law Enforcement Training Academy.
In his mid-teens, Fetuao Fetuao was, in his own words, a troublemaker. Although he hadn’t joined any of the gangs in Riverside, Calif. where he grew up, an interaction with a police officer set his course for the future.

Fetuao was a defensive player on the local high school football team. After winning the night’s game, he peeled out of the parking lot in his car and was immediately pulled over by a local officer who berated and swore at Fetuao. During the incident, he remembers thinking that he could probably do a better job of representing law enforcement than this officer.

“I try to treat others with respect and always do the right thing, regardless of the situation,” said Fetuao. “I knew I could make a difference in the community doing something in law enforcement.”

After following a circuitous path that took more than a decade, Fetuao received his certificate of completion from Chandler-Gilbert Community College’s Law Enforcement Training Academy on June 5.

Fetuao came to the U.S. from Samoa at age 13 with his parents and six siblings.  With a strict mother and a father focused on excellence, Fetuao learned self-discipline and developed a competitive nature with himself to do his best. His size and skill landed him a spot on the football team.

After graduation, he was expected to go on a mission, but attended Riverside Community College for two years instead. He played football and was finishing up the last of his eligibility requirements to play at Cal Poly when he decided a mission was something he wanted to do. He was sent to Arizona for two years and fell in love with the land, the heat and, after completing his mission, a woman who would eventually become his wife.

His interest in serving the community led him to become a correctional officer for a private company working with the U.S. Marshalls. Three years in, he realized he wanted to try and influence individuals before they landed in the correctional system.  He learned about the program at CGCC and he enrolled.

“The program is not like other academies,” said Fetuao. “At first, I couldn’t believe that we were being taught by commanders, lieutenants and officers as the faculty. They take the time to teach us the information and apply it to real-life scenarios so we know how to use it when we need to. We learn a lot of things visually and experientially, not just in a class. I haven’t even started my career and I’ve had such great experiences.”

The 10-month, 800+ hour program meets two evenings a week for four hours and all day Saturday, allowing students to attend classes while remaining employed. The training meets Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training (Az POST) standards. Upon successful completion of the program and the Az POST comprehensive exam, students are eligible to be certified police officers. Students also earn 30 college credits from CGCC.

Although he hasn’t yet been employed with any of the local police departments, Fetuao has plans for the future, including returning to Samoa periodically to share what he’s learned.
“I want to tell everyone to act on their dreams. When you feel it, find the courage and go for it. You never know until you try,” said Fetuao.

To learn more about CGCC’s law enforcement training academy, visit or contact Jon Terpay, academy director, at 480.988.8756 or

Thursday, June 13, 2013

140 sixth graders attend college-preparation program at Chandler-Gilbert Community College

Local students attending the Destination College program
listen to speakers in CGCC's Performing Arts Center.
Arizona's chain of Independent newspapers ran a story about the three-week Destination College program taking place on Chandler-Gilbert Community College's Pecos Campus.

Read the article.