Get to Know Keysight > Corporate Social Responsibility

Bringing STEM Education to Our Local Underrepresented Communities

2019-09-04  |  10 min read 

Expanding access to STEM education for all students, especially students in underrepresented communities, is an important pillar of Keysight’s Corporate Social Responsibility Program. That is why for 12 years and counting we have been a corporate sponsor of the Mike Hauser Academy (MHA) in Sonoma County, California. The MHA, which is sponsored by the Santa Rosa Metro Chamber of Commerce, is a three-week algebra-focused summer school program for incoming 9th grade English Language Learner (ELL) students, as well as those who could benefit from extra support.

This year’s students were asked for one word to describe their experience at Keysight, and the most popular words were “inspired!”, “amazing!”, and “awesome!” Staying involved in the STEM education ecosystem and welcoming students to our site is how Keysight inspires the next generation of innovators. This program is successful year after year because of the passion that Keysight employees have for math, engineering, and giving back to our communities. 

This summer, Keysight hosted 35 MHA students at our corporate headquarters in Santa Rosa, California. As a host site, Keysight provided meeting rooms, food and curated activities to supplement the algebra lessons the students received from credentialed teachers.

In addition to engaging tours of the Keysight headquarters, this year’s students used CAD to create and 3D print their own nameplates and were treated to an electrical vehicle (EV) car show featuring employees’ electric vehicles. This included Keysight CEO Ron Nersesian bringing his own personal EV and welcoming the students into his car. He explained how Keysight products support the development of electric and autonomous vehicles. The students also made and tested their own solar car kits from the Keysight After School program.

Keysight engineer Monica Harrison caught up with high school senior Dorian Salomon – who attended the 2016 MHA program and is now a volunteer teacher assistant in the program -- for some reflection on Keysight and MHA. Following, with their approval, are excerpts from their discussion.

High School Senior Dorian Salomon, 18
High School Senior Dorian Salomon, 18

Monica: What keeps you motivated to volunteer for the program every year?

Dorian: In the Roseland Community, I have noticed many students are not provided an opportunity to explore STEM-related careers. It warms my heart to see these MHA students grow from quiet and shy individuals to people who can collaborate with one another and expand on their gifted minds. I believe life skills like these are essential for incoming freshman and allows the students to have a comfortable transition to a more responsible future that awaits them.

Monica: What part of the Mike Hauser program impressed you the most as you entered your Freshman year? The academics, industry exposure?

Dorian: As an incoming freshman, I was most impressed by the mathematics used in real-world situations. Many companies, such as Keysight, use the same math and science we learn in our early years. Furthermore, this academy illustrated that it is normal to struggle on a problem and to ask others for help. Many employees have shared that teamwork plays a big role as an adult and that solutions are not always given easily but can still be solved if the effort is put in. This not only shaped me to be more confident but shaped my high school years in which I was able to search for solutions and cooperate with my peers more efficiently.

Monica: What part do you think has the biggest effect on students?

Dorian: I believe the biggest effect on students is clearly emphasizing that a professional workplace isn't always serious. Many students take away the importance of having fun while working because it leaves more room for creativity towards innovation. It's great to see students find new ways to apply science and math to the real world while enjoying their approach to the problem. I can't stress enough how impactful creativity is in our society. The MHA lights the spark within students to embrace the STEM field with an open mind that is ready for innovation.

CEO Ron Nersesian shows his personal electric vehicle to MHA students.
CEO Ron Nersesian shows MHA students his personal electric vehicle as part of an EV car show for students.

Monica: What part of Keysight impressed you the most, the activities, the people, the site?

Dorian: Visiting Keysight has always stood out to me for various reasons. To begin with, the people who work at the company are very supportive and social. It allows visitors to have a comfortable stay and encourages them to come back, including me. The people of Keysight have always been super friendly and only want what is best for others. For example, meeting the CEO Ron Nersesian was a total honor and was amazing for him to take time out of his busy schedule to come out to talk with students from MHA. He was able to answer questions and participate in an electric car show in order to give insights into how healthy electric cars are for the environment. This individual is one of the many people at Keysight who have a positive attitude and are willing to work more with their community. The effort the company puts into protecting the environment by promoting electric cars and creating their employee garden displays that the company not only cares about the health of the environment, but also for their employees by having a balanced indoor and outdoor workday. Keysight is also one of the many companies that faced damages from the 2017 California Fires. However, the company stayed strong and rose from the ashes to continue their work. I believe fighting through such a tragic event and still doing their responsibilities is what makes Keysight one of my favorite companies to visit. There are many qualities to this company that are beyond words to describe.

Monica: In your opinion, how important is it for companies to play a role in education?

Dorian: From personal experience, I think it is very important for companies to play in role in education. Being a part of a student’s education while they're growing reassures them that their career options are not limited but rather, the possibilities are limitless. A society’s goal should be to show students many options for their future and from those options expand and evolve. Programs such as the MHA allow many companies to make this goal realistic. Many students and adults have been motivated be a part of this goal and create a better future, myself included.

MHA students explore a Farraday cage on a tour of the Environmental Test Lab led by Keysight's David C. Gibbons
MHA students explore a Faraday cage on a tour of the Environmental Test Lab led by Keysight's David C. Gibbons

Monica: Anything else you would like us to know?

Dorian: I’ve come a long way to be in the position I am in now, as a high schooler. In my younger years, I was held back in kindergarten and constantly struggled in school. Because of support from my friends, family, and programs such as the MHA, I was able to grow stronger as a student and as a young man. There are too many to thank for this positive change. But, because of this growth, I have become an open-minded, creative thinker that is always ready for a challenge and willing to support students in order to better their academic lives. I want students of the future to remember that there will always be challenges in our path but never one without a solution.