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Saturday, September 30, 2023

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Eugene Olevsky, dean of  SDSU’s College of Engineering and Maricruz Carrillo. Eugene Olevsky, dean of SDSU’s College of Engineering and Maricruz Carrillo.

CSU Doctoral Program Finds Potential in Engineering Grad

SDSU’s Maricruz Carrillo, who previously earned a major NSF award, is among the 2020-21 cohort of a program to prepare students for an academic career.
By Lainie Fraser

As a female of Mexican heritage, working in the STEM fields means a lot to Maricruz Carrillo

In high school, Carrillo found an interest in math and science and was considering becoming a teacher when she took an introduction to engineering course and discovered the robotics club. There, she found a field where she could apply her math and science skills and explore a whole world of engineering possibilities.

Carrillo then set her sights on San Diego State University, mechanical engineering and bioengineering. After completing both her undergraduate and master’s degrees at SDSU, she is now in her third year in the SDSU/University of California San Diego joint Ph.D. program for mechanical engineering and aerospace.

Most recently, Carrillo was recognized by the California State University (CSU) system as a scholar in the Chancellor’s Doctoral Incentive Program (CDIP), which prepares doctoral students for an academic career through mentorship, grants, professional development and financial support. The program is intended to increase the number of faculty with the qualifications, motivation, and skills needed to teach the diverse students of the CSU.

“When I first learned of this program I thought it was perfect for me,” said Carrillo. “At this time, I knew I wanted to be a professor and I really liked the structure of the CSU because it has a focus on teaching but also research. SDSU is an amazing example of how these two can work together.”

The CDIP application calls for a specific plan for the next three years of the applicants’ Ph.D. program. Carrillo, with the help of her mentor and Ph.D. adviser Eugene Olevsky, dean of SDSU’s College of Engineering, detailed what she will do as a researcher, teacher and community member to become the ideal candidate for a CSU faculty position.

Olevsky said he is proud to have Carrillo working in his lab and that it means a lot to him as both a dean and researcher to have her recognized.

“It not only brings visibility and recognition to the college but it contributes to the diversity of our student body at the doctoral level in particular,” said Olevsky. “She is a female Hispanic student and can really serve as the role model to other students. As the researcher I am very happy one of my students is so successful.”

Carrillo’s research is focused on sintering-assisted 3D-printing of biomaterials.

“Her studies are directly contributing to top-notch activities in materials science and advanced manufacturing,” said Olevsky. “In addition to becoming a Chancellor’s doctoral scholar, Maricruz is the most recent winner of the all-CSU Graduate Student Research Competition. She also submitted a National Science Foundation Innovation Corps  proposal which received a $50,000 award. Using this NSF support, Maricruz is currently spearheading a research team carrying out a project on load bearing ceramic bone scaffolds produced via 3D printing.”

Carrillo said Olevsky’s support is a big reason she decided to pursue her Ph.D.

“Before I started my Ph.D. I was ready to start working and be done going to school,” said Carrillo. “Dean Olevsky is really the reason I came back for the Ph.D. I was in his lab while I was getting my master’s and he has always helped me stay focused on my end goal and I have always felt so supported by him.”

Helping to diversify STEM and higher education faculty while being able to help young students and do something she loves is important to Carrillo.

“I have always been the only Latina in the room in my classes so to be a Latina and to be recognized is important for other women of color looking at the university and a big driving factor in my professional life,” said Carrillo. “When I was deciding whether or not to commit to the Ph.D. program, I instantly thought about my seven nieces. I thought about how impactful it would be for me to reach that level in academia, to be a teacher in mechanical engineering being from my background."