Kayjing Chua never expected how her college career would be shaped. Originally from Fremont, Ca., Chua entered Cal Poly as an Orfalea College of Business student. However, soon after beginning her college career, she discovered her passion for industrial technology and made the decision to switch her major. Throughout her college career, Chua was highly involved in a variety of experiences where she could help others find their path, such as the Orfalea Peer Advisors, Ambassadors, and the Industrial Technology Society Executive Board. Reflecting on her time at Cal Poly, Chua is glad she made the decision to change her path and is excited to begin her journey as a Quality Assurance Engineer at NASA after walking this spring.
When she first received her acceptance to Cal Poly, Chua did not know the twists and turns her life would soon take. During Open House weekend, Chua had the opportunity to go on a lab tour of Cal Poly’s industrial technology and packaging labs, where she received a behind-the-scenes view of where students create computer-aided designs, prototype packaging and test them with industry standard equipment. While on the tour, Chua felt excited by the prospect of having labs incorporated into her studies and the hands-on experience she could gain in the classroom. When industrial technology professors came and spoke more about the program in one of her classes during freshman year, she knew she had to make a change in her college career.
Not knowing what classes to take or what to expect from her major, Chua luckily found help from other students in the industrial technology major. It was from one of these students that Chua learned of the Industrial Technology Society, which helps facilitate connections between students and the industry community. Shortly after being introduced to the club, Chua knew she wanted to connect with other students outside of the classroom and quickly became a Student Advisor for the society. But she didn’t stop there. Wanting to do more to help other students, Chua soon took on the responsibility of holding a position on the Industrial Technology Society Executive Board.
Throughout her time at Cal Poly, Chua also worked as an Orfalea Peer Advisor and Ambassador. Working around 20 hours a week on top of school, Chua pushed both herself and others to be better in and out of the office. Delving into her own experiences, Chua was able to engage with students as a Peer Advisor and provide a variety of resources and tools to help them in their own college journey. As an Ambassador, Chua conducted Orfalea tours and contributed to the Executive in Residence program and was able to make an impact on perspective students, executives, potential donors and even alumni.
“Being involved in Ambassadors was my way of giving back to Cal Poly,” said Chua. “I feel like I’ve benefited so much from the opportunities afforded to me by just being a student here that it’s important to encourage others to seek those opportunities.”
As she began looking for position post-graduation, Chua decided to apply to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which carries out robotic space and Earth science missions. Chua soon heard back from NASA and received an on-campus interview. After completing both the on-campus interview and an interview at their campus in Pasadena, Ca., Chua received a call offering her a full-time position.
Reflecting on her time at Cal Poly, Chua said, “College is a great time to try a bunch of different things and figure out what’s really right for you. If you don’t try new things, you won’t be able to discover things you’re passionate about.”
Walking this spring, Chua will soon begin her career with NASA at its Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena as a Quality Assurance Engineer. Chua plans to continue her career with NASA and eventually move into a more technical or management role. When asked about her ultimate dream job, she stated, “It’d be pretty cool to go to Mars.”