Cal Poly Civil Engineering Grad Student Wins CSU Research Competition
May 12, 2011
When the Twin Towers collapsed in 2001, Victor Sanchez Escalera was a high school student. The event influenced him to study civil engineering, and the research he has done as a 4 +1 B.S./M.S. student at Cal Poly may help prevent structural disasters in the future.
Sanchez won the Engineering and Computer Science - Graduate Category at the 25th Annual CSU Student Research Competition held at CSU-Fresno on May 6-7 for his structural engineering research project on "Enhancing Progressive Collapse Resistance of Steel Building Frames Using Thin Infill Steel Panels."
"The CSU Research Competition is very difficult," noted Sanchez. "To get in, we first had to submit our paper to our department and then to Dean Susan Opava in the Office of Research and Graduate Programs. Because expectations are very high at Cal Poly, I think anyone who makes it to the competition from here has a good chance of excelling."
Sanchez is due to receive his master's degree in a matter of weeks before joining Brocade as a project manager--achievements he could not have predicted when he arrived in the U.S. from Mexico at the age of 13. His parents have minimal literacy in Spanish and English, and none of his seven siblings or dozens of cousins and extended family members have gone to college.
Recognizing his aptitude, a teacher connected Sanchez with AVID, a program that increases student learning and provides motivation for educational and professional development for the least served students. "I had never even heard of college until I joined AVID," said Sanchez.
Although he was accepted as a freshman at all the UC campuses, Sanchez was not eligible for financial aid because he was not a legal citizen. After attending community college and earning his citizenship, he came to Cal Poly because of its reputation in engineering.
"I've had a great experience at Cal Poly," says Sanchez. "In my time here and after my research and involvement in various competitions like the CSU Research Competition and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers national design contest, I've learned that there's no limit to knowledge."
Sanchez was a CSU-LSAMP Scholar's Award recipient in 2009. LSAMP is the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation program for underrepresented students in the STEM disciplines.
# # #
Photo caption: Victor Sanchez Escalera accepts his First Place award from Dr. Vivian Vidoli, former dean of Graduate Programs at CSU Fresno and founder of the CSU Student Research Competition.