Engineering a Brighter Future

Engineering a Brighter Future

October 1, 2021

This year, IPSF celebrates the 25th anniversary of supporting the educational experience of each child in every school in the Irvine Unified School District. We are so proud to support such an amazing educational community and are seeking to commemorate exciting achievements from IUSD students and alumni through our Profiles in Excellence Showcase.

See below for this month’s featured student and how you can submit the amazing student in your life.

Profiles in Excellence: Swetha Palakur

As a young child, Swetha Palakur dreamed of becoming a dentist or doctor. Most of all, she wanted to improve society by helping others. As early as elementary school, she pursued this path by volunteering and attending medical camps, experiencing firsthand how medical professionals positively impact the lives of the people that they serve.

During her freshman year at Irvine High, she signed up for the Engineering Pathway. She didn’t know it yet, but that decision would alter the trajectory of Swetha’s future forever. Her first major project challenged her to “Be the Change” and brainstorm solutions for a real-world problem. Inspired by a recent volunteer trip in India, Swetha suggested that her team work on a way to mitigate the outbreaks of Dengue fever spread by mosquitos. The team created a solar-powered water turner prototype, designed to prevent mosquito breeding in stagnant water.

Swetha quickly realized that engineering would be her path to making the impact on society that she had dreamed to make with her career. “During my four years in the engineering pathway, I learned that you don’t have to be a doctor to make a difference. As an engineer I can use the design process we learned to potentially improve the lives of thousands or even millions of people.”

As a high school student, Swetha is already making a difference in the lives of others. For her capstone project during her senior year, she created a keyboard to aid people suffering from Parkinson’s disease. She collaborated with classmates and enlisted advice from experts at UCI, who were so impressed with her work that she was invited to test the prototype at their Parkinson’s clinic.

Engineering is more than a class for Swetha, it has become a calling. Being an active participant in clubs outside of the classroom including the First Robotics team, Society for Women Engineers, and Irvine CubeSat STEM Program has given her the chance to apply the skills learned in class and have fun with it.  Whether she is programming and coding robots, competing against other high schools, or building a nanosatellite to be launched into space, Swetha takes on each challenge as an opportunity to learn and grow.

Now preparing to head to UCLA’s Samueli School of Engineering to pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering, Swetha credits her success to the opportunities that she was afforded through the Engineering Pathway. “I am really grateful for the resources and experiences my teachers provided. I was lucky to have the opportunity to make a real impact on my community through engineering.  Hands-on learning in high school opened my eyes to the possibilities of a career in engineering.”

Do you know an amazing IUSD student? Share your proudest stories of educational excellence for a chance to be featured. Click to view all our amazing IPSF  25th Anniversary Profiles in Excellence!

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