Dear colleagues,

There are so many distractions in higher education these days. But for us at FIU, the constant is our students and their passion to get their educations and get on with their lives. So it gives me great joy to tell you that Carolina is on my mind! Not the state. Not the song, but one of our most promising learners. Meet her:

Carolina Uribe-Gosselin is a Palmetto High School graduate and soon-to-be computer science graduate at our FIU. She has just received word that Microsoft has hired her in a full-time position in Seattle once she graduates this Spring. Carolina is a splendid example of a student who has taken full advantage of the opportunities that she was offered. And like so many learners at FIU, Carolina comes from a family whose parents did not complete their college educations. Her success is no doubt a combination of a supportive family, her incredible drive and determination to open doors for herself, and the support she has received from our faculty and professional staff.

It’s her second opportunity with the technology company. Just last year, she interned with Microsoft’s cloud supply chain team, where she analyzed cloud supply chain data for the First Instance (FI) Deployment team, and also collaborated with datacenter Deployment Engineers.

This young lady will arrive at Microsoft very well prepared beyond her earlier Microsoft internship. She has already held four other internships – as technical program manager for the Packaging Engineering Team at the Tesla Gigafactory 1 in Reno, Nevada, at Lockheed Martin in Orlando and at Pearl Healthcare Technologies, and Launchcode in Miami.

She credits her time at FIU, particularly as co-founder of SparkDev, with her professional success. FIU’s SparkDev, part of the Upsilon Pi Epsilon Honor Society, is a nine-week program designed to give students of any skill level the chance to participate in hands-on projects in various STEM fields. Specifically, it brings together students to create tangible and valuable projects in areas such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, cyber security, mobile and web development.

Carolina says that while she had opportunities to go elsewhere she chose FIU in part because she wasn’t sure about her major. Clearly she has made the most of her FIU experience. One of her internships came about as a result of FIU’s sponsorship for her to attend the Grace Hopper Conference, which is an all-women’s tech gathering. Once she graduates, she assures us that both she and her two pet cats, Eda and Apollo, and maybe even her loving mother, will relocate with her to the West Coast. “This is exactly everything I’ve ever wanted in my life. I’m working in tech, I’m working with engineers, I even get to code,” she said.

Carolina’s full experience at FIU is no accident. The College of Engineering and Computing provides a nationally accredited engineering and computing curriculum. But it also offers a robust platform for students and individuals who want to excel in co-curricular and extra curricular learning. Faculty and professional staff mindset is fully engaged in promoting great practical experience and timely graduation.

For instance, in cooperation with our DC office, the CEC will send 124 students to Washington, DC from February 13-16 to the BEYA (Black Engineers of the Year Awards) Conference to find good jobs from industry and to meet with our partners at MITRE on February 14, 2020.

Shortly thereafter on February 21, 2020, the CEC will host the Engineering Expo 2020. This brings 2,000 K-12 students from schools all over Miami-Dade and Broward counties to the CEC. There, throughout the day they will tour our labs and learn first hand, from some of the same students traveling to BEYA, about the great opportunities in STEM professions. This gathering (and the thousands of slices of pizza that will be consumed by our young visitors) is sponsored by Lockheed Martin, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and Chevron. Here is last year’s video:

But there’s more: the CEC is not done. This March will be dedicated to FIU women in engineering and computing. Thanks to a generous corporate grant from the Motorola Solutions Foundation, the Center for Diversity and Student Success at the College of Engineering and Computing is re-launching our Women’s Initiative – Women of CEC. This initiative is aimed at improving the graduation and retention rates of our female engineers and computer scientists, while simultaneously educating our engineering and computer science community on the variety of issues confronting our female students and faculty.

The initiative encompasses pre-college programs that strengthen the pipeline for STEM-interested female students in grades K-12, community building within the College of Engineering and Computing, corporate-sponsored workshops and panel discussions, mentorship training for students, faculty, and staff, student organization support, and research opportunities for female students — all of which promote the recruitment, retention, and graduation of more female learners in STEM.

So while we celebrate and rejoice about Carolina’s success, there is so much more to do to foster greater diversity among engineers and computer scientists and get them the experiences in and out of class to catapult them forward. But under any scenario, our student’s success sets a very high bar regardless of gender. Yes! Carolina is on my mind! Now you know why!

Carolina Uribe-Gosselin

In the Panther spirit,

Mark B. Rosenberg