Dylan Vu is a first-generation college student trying to help his parents pay for his education. Estella Liu is a fourth-year chemical engineering student funding her own way through school. The two UC Santa Barbara engineering students recently received some much-welcome news, each being awarded a $1,000 scholarship from the local non-profit National Engineers Week of Ventura and Santa Barbara (NEW-VSB). This year, NEW-VSB awarded ten scholarships to engineering students from colleges and universities in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.
“I tried really hard not to shout with excitement,” said Vu, describing his response to receiving the congratulatory email in the middle of class. “My parents immigrated from Vietnam, and they both work extremely hard and long hours, so I can pursue an engineering degree. This scholarship is a way I can help and make my parents proud.”
“I work part-time to help pay off my student loans. This scholarship really takes a huge burden off of my shoulders. I can breathe a little easier,” said Liu.
National Engineers Week, observed this year from February 16-22, was started in 1951 to increase interest and understanding of careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Both students said they discovered their interest in science and engineering early in life, and it led them to UCSB, where their passion has grown.
“Engineers played roles in the development of so many inventions, like air conditioning, refrigerators, and fertilizer. They’ve drastically improved our quality of life and I want to do the same,” said Liu, who plans to attend graduate school after completing a bachelor’s degree this spring. Interested in programming and coding, she also wants to design a program to analyze data for scientists and engineers.
“Having a chemical engineering degree from UCSB will be a major accomplishment. Whether my next step is attending graduate school or working in industry, I’ll be ready,” said Liu.
Fascinated by chemistry and biology, Vu plans to change his major from mechanical to chemical engineering, in order to pursue research in biological engineering.
“My engineering project design team has shown me the importance and the power of collaboration when it comes to solving a problem or developing any new device or technology,” said Vu. “UCSB has already exceeded my expectations and opened my eyes to what is possible. I know it will prepare me for graduate school.”
Vu, Liu, and the other scholarship recipients were recognized during NEW-VSB’s annual banquet. To be eligible, scholarship applicants were required to be pursuing an engineering degree from a college or university in Santa Barbara or Ventura county, and have a 3.0 cumulative GPA or higher.