Scholar of the Week

Ernesto Covarrubias Flores      
California State University, Los Angeles

2014 HENAAC Undergraduate Student Leadership Award
Sponsored by the Chrysler Foundation

Ernesto Covarrubias Flores, a mechanical engineering senior at California State University, Los Angles (CSULA), is the 2014 HENAAC Undergraduate Student Leadership Award recipient. This award is presented to the top undergraduate scholar, who demonstrates an outstanding record of academic excellence, leadership both within the Hispanic community and within the institution, an aptitude for research, and aspires to pursue a STEM graduate education.

The first and only child in his family to attend college, and a graduate of Schurr High School, in Montebello, CA, Ernesto is a product of the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Program. He credits this program for inspiring him to pursue research opportunities and further his education as a future graduate student. After participating in the LSAMP his freshman year, he became a facilitator for LSAMP, where he developed various academic workshops and served as a tutor. Last year, he participated in the research training component of LSAMP, where he conducted research on the biomechanics of the human tibia. The project involved analyzing and quantifying the fracture patterns after applying a designated force to a composite tibia model. The data was used to determine the biomechanical tolerance of the composite tibia bone and how it can be effectively used for future experiments and testing.

In summer 2014, Ernesto was one of six students who participated in the CSU-LSAMP Costa Rica Summer Research Program to obtain field experience and better understand the vast biodiversity of the country. He and his team combined their knowledge of research and statistics method to analyze real-world problems affecting the community in Costa Rica.

Leading by example, Ernesto served on the Associated Students Incorporated (ASI) Board of Directors as the College of Engineering, Computer Science and Technology (ECST) representative, from 2012-14. “I am passionate about building a student-centered campus and giving students better opportunities to develop the skills needed to be hired after they graduate,” he stated. As the ECST representative, Ernesto was the voice of the students and took actions on policies that impacted the College and the University. In 2013-2014, he chaired the University-Student Union Board of Directors.

Currently hosting a competitive 3.48 GPA, he is a member of all of the local chapters of various national honor societies including Tau Beta Pi, Pi Tau Sigma, Phi Kappa Phi, and the Golden Key Honor Society. He also served as president Pi Tau Sigma. In 2013, Ernesto received the HENAAC/Jose R. Silva Memorial Scholarship sponsored by Raytheon.

Outside the classroom, Ernesto has an extensive record of community service and outreach. He is a member of the Mathematics, Engineering, Science, and Achievement (MESA) program, at CSULA. He currently serves as a tutor and mentor in the community outreach program called “A Place Called Home (APCH).” APCH is a dynamic, non- profit youth center in South Central Los Angeles helping its members avoid gangs, stay in school, go to college, and pursue successful careers. In 2012, he won the Annual Young Man of the Year award for the City of Commerce.

Ernesto is described by his LSAMP Director as having “the demeanor of a highly trained professional who never forgets the need to help others.” However, Ernesto, a first-generation college student, credits his parents, who were born in Jalisco, Mexico, as his greatest inspiration and motivation to succeed. They are the source of his ability to work well with others and inspire others to achieve their goals at the highest level.

Through his experience as a school ambassador, volunteer service within the Hispanic community and his research experience, Ernesto has acquired skills sets that will serve him well as a future innovative STEM leader. A true scholar and student advocate, Ernesto’s goal is to enable more students to great leadership by role-modeling what he has accomplished and inspiring them to do the same.

*A shorter excerpt appears in TECHNiCA Fall 2014

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