As an electrical engineer, Erick Rojas-Torres wants to use his passion for the field to find new solutions to complex problems.
“I just feel like it’s the right thing to do,” says Rojas-Torres, who received a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from Cal State LA’s College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology. “I have the knowledge to be able to apply and I just want to help improve technology to help people.”
Rojas-Torres, a 24-year-old East Los Angeles resident, is part of Cal State LA’s Class of 2022, which celebrated earning their degrees during Commencement last month. He will begin an internship this summer with Northrop Grumman in Baltimore, Maryland.
Rojas-Torres grew up in East Los Angeles and graduated from Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet High School in Lincoln Heights, close to the Cal State LA campus. He almost enlisted in the military but decided to enroll at Cal State LA instead, pursuing higher education at the urging of his mother.
The College of ECST’s Summer Transition to ECST Program, known as STEP, helped Rojas-Torres acclimate to university life and engineering coursework. He soon found an interest in electrical engineering and the field’s combination of electronics and coding.
Rojas-Torres found ways to bring the engineering skills he was learning in the classroom to life on student design teams. He built soccer-playing robots with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and designed electrical systems with the Formula Society of Automotive Engineers.
Before graduating with his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 2021, Rojas-Torres had already taken two master’s level courses and decided to stay at Cal State LA to finish up a graduate degree.
For Rojas-Torres, the community of students, staff, and faculty in the College of ECST created a tightknit, welcoming and supportive environment for learning and growth.
Under the guidance of electrical engineering faculty member Deborah Won, Rojas-Torres participated in collaborative research for his master’s thesis, working with researchers at Duke University to use deep brain stimulation to reduce the side effects of current treatments and improve outcomes for patients with Parkinson’s disease.
Rojas-Torres presented his research at the 9th Annual Minnesota Neuromodulation Symposium in Minneapolis in April and will travel to Glasgow, Scotland in July to present the research at the 44th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. An article that he co-wrote, “A Comparison of an Implanted Accelerometer with a Wearable Accelerometer for Closed-Loop DBS,” has been approved for publication by the conference.
He hopes to eventually develop his career in the biomedical industry, using his engineering skills to find ways to help patients suffering from disease and ailments.
“Erick is a wonderful student, researcher, and human being through and through,” Won says. “I’ve witnessed his passion for engineering and giving back to his community as a participant in a summer engineering service project program, as a mentor in the program, as a student in my courses, and as a researcher in my lab. Erick is someone you can count on and has not only a bright mind but a big heart. I am so excited for all he has to look forward to in his brilliant future.”
This summer, Rojas-Torres will head to Baltimore, Maryland, to begin the internship with Northrop Grumman. As an undergraduate student, he was selected to participate in Northrop Grumman’s Mentor-Protégé Program thanks to the support of technology faculty member Paul Liu. Rojas-Torres attributes his development and success at securing his internship and career opportunities to the support of faculty members in the College of ECST, like Liu and Won.
“The faculty were very helpful, and I feel good that I am prepared enough to get into the workforce and have the chance to be able to apply what I learned in school to real-world issues,” Rojas-Torres says.
Rojas-Torres, who graduated with a 4.0 GPA, also served as the student speaker for the College of ECST during Commencement 2022 in May. The ceremony was held during the university’s 75th anniversary.
“Cal State LA is a place of inclusivity. Even though we all have different racial and financial backgrounds, different genders and sexual orientations, different religions, and customs, we were all welcomed,” Rojas-Torres said to his fellow graduates. “I hope we all leave Cal State LA as better people with memorable experiences and useful knowledge. I know I will.”
# # #
California State University, Los Angeles is the premier comprehensive public university in the heart of Los Angeles. Cal State LA is ranked number one in the United States for the upward mobility of its students. Cal State LA is dedicated to engagement, service, and the public good, offering nationally recognized programs in science, the arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education, and the humanities. Founded in 1947, the University serves more than 26,000 students and has more than 250,000 distinguished alumni.
Cal State LA is home to the critically-acclaimed Luckman Fine Arts Complex, Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs, Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center, Hydrogen Research and Fueling Facility, Billie Jean King Sports Complex and the TV, Film and Media Center. For more information, visit www.CalStateLA.edu.