Engineer builds connections with students
Wants youngsters to explore career path
By Michael J. Arvizu
Susanne Cooper has always loved math. She excelled at it throughout her middle and high school years and was even able to enroll in a senior-level calculus class her junior year. She was so good at math that she was encouraged to pursue a career in engineering. After earning a degree in engineering from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 1996, Cooper soon landed a job with Ventura-based civil engineering firm Jensen Design & Survey. Her work as a civil engineer, she said, has been both personally and professionally rewarding. And in hopes of inspiring students to pursue engineering careers, Cooper visited ACE Charter High School in Camarillo on May 13 to talk about her career and shed light on what an engineer does on a day-to-day basis. She has spoken to elementary, middle and high school students over the last 10 years because she wants to share her love of engineering with youngsters. School administrators are more than happy to give Cooper time to speak about her professional background. “Anytime we can bring professionals in to talk to our students, that’s a real advantage for them,” said John Middleton, ACE Charter High School social science teacher. “We try to take students and build our curriculum outside of just the classroom, outside of the textbook.”
PROFESSIONAL ADVICE—Susanne Cooper, a civil engineer, speaks to students at ACE Charter High School last week. Cooper encouraged the students to consider careers in engineering.
Cooper said although most people don’t think about the work civil engineers do, it can touch everybody’s lives—from the way streetsare designed to how a sewer system runs. “It’s interesting,” Cooper said of engineering. “It’s something that pertains to us every day.” Cooper has worked on projects throughout Ventura County, including the 80-acre north athletic field expansion at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, which she has overseen since 2002. “Being an engineer is more than just math; it’s more than just sitting in front of a computer designing,” Cooper said. “It’s about the whole package. You have to be a good person. You have to do a good job.” Cooper gave students a demonstration of the problem solving she undertakes on a regular basis. She provided an aerial layout of the CLU campus expansion project and asked students how they would place the fields and parking lots. Cooper’s presentation captured the interest of students in the class, including Zuhayr Ramadan, who said the presentation made him think differently about what engineers do. “You have so much pressure on you with all these buildings that you have to place,” said Zuhayr, a senior. “It’s a huge wake-up call for whoever wants to be in this field.”