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Central Islip High School Students Learn About Future Careers in Engineering and Applied Sciences

Gateway photo

A team of engineers, researchers, students and entrepreneurs brought their expertise and advice to Central Islip High School on March 13.

Gateway photo
The Gateway to Engineering Outreach Program Team (left to right): Mohammed Elbadry, Derek Peterson, Courtney Bentham, Professor Wei Yin and Jhair Alzamora speak to sophomores, juniors and seniors at Central Islip High School.

Professor Wei Yin, associate dean for diversity and outreach at the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences (CEAS), along with members of her “Gateway to Engineering Outreach Program” spoke to three classes throughout the morning.

The team includes Courtney Bentham, an undergraduate student in biomedical engineering; Jhair Alzamora, a graduate student in electrical and computer engineering; and two alumni, Derek Peterson, chief executive officer of Soter Technologies, and Mohammed Elbadry, director of research development engineering at Soter Technologies, based in Ronkonkoma.

After a brief video introduction about Stony Brook University, which included Wolfie, Yin said about the presenters, “We are all Seawolves.”

“What kinds of jobs can I get with a biomedical degree?” a student asked. Yin, from the Department of Biomedical Engineering, responded, “You can go to medical school, graduate school, work for pharmaceutical companies, biotechnology companies, banks and even start-ups.”

Peterson, who holds a bachelor of science in computer science and applied math, added that the skill set could even prepare them for law school to become a patent attorney.

Peterson has founded two successful companies and created software products that are deployed on millions of devices worldwide, and is a perfect example of helping others. In 2017, his company invented a vape detection and anti-bullying solution. He showed the students the progression of his vape detector, which culminated in the 8th generation of its kind, the FlySense FS3000. “You don’t have to figure everything out right away,” he added.

“What kinds of research opportunities are there at Stony Brook?” a student asked. Bentham, a third-year biomedical student, spoke about the Vertically Integrated Project (VIP) program, which gives students from different disciplines an opportunity to work together. He also mentioned Brookhaven National Laboratory and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Yin mentioned that she has a research lab, and Peterson added that he has hired about 100 interns at his company over the years.

One of Peterson’s colleagues, Mohammed Elbadry, began working as an intern for Soter Technologies six years ago. Elbadry explained that computer and electrical engineering is a mix. “It opens both doors and offers you an entrance into both worlds. You’ll learn how to code and also how to work on the circuit board.” Elbadry earned his doctorate degree in computer engineering by designing a new radio system. He had to create the hardware and the software. “You can talk to your professors when you are interested in a particular field of research,” he said.

The students also wanted to know about the availability of jobs on campus, internships, clubs and organizations, the sizes of the classes, and the overall campus experience. Alzamora said that he began his studies at Farmingdale College where he was inspired by a mentor who he could relate to, and this relationship instilled in him the confidence that he could pursue a career in electrical engineering. “As a minority,” he said, “I want more students to see themselves in me, to know that they can do it too.”

“What types of courses would best prepare them for admission to Stony Brook?” asked Central Islip High School science teacher Darren Ehrhardt. “Pay attention to your core courses,” said Yin, “math, physics. That’s a good foundation to become an engineer.” She encouraged them to join extracurricular activities, be passionate about a lot of things and to help other people.

Three of Ehrhardt’s classes (Computer Science A, Principles of Engineering, and AP Computer Science Principles) learned from the Stony Brook team. Ehrhardt, an alumnus of Central Islip High School, was one of 10 educators worldwide to be selected for the “2022 Amazon Teacher of the Year” award.

After each session, the students received Stony Brook T-shirts, key chains, pens and informational cards about the programs at CEAS.

“We are engineers. We design. We innovate. We make,” Yin said. “We make people’s lives easier.” The team shared with the students that Stony Brook University is the number one public university in New York State. “We are Tier 1 in research,” added Elbadry, “and that’s because we have cutting-edge research programs.”

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