Carolina Espinoza

Major: Chemical Engineering

CSEP Affiliation: PIPELINES and Cooke Bridges Program

Where is your hometown and year in school?

I am from Oxnard, California.  I’m technically a junior at UCSB, but its my fourth year in school since I did three years at Ventura City College before transferring here.

What made you come to UCSB?

UCSB is a great school, my major is chemical engineering, and the program for that at UCSB is really good. 

Why did you decide to participate in PIPELINES?

I participated in the Cooke Bridges internship through the CSEP, which was my first exposure to CSEP programs. I remember coming to UCSB for a field trip, and Maria, program director, encouraged me to apply for PIPELINES.  I thought it was a great opportunity because it incorporates research and industry.

When participating in PIPELINES, was there anything that surprised you?

I was always used to being told what to do in academic settings, but in PIPELINES, I was encouraged to be independent which definitely made me more disciplined in my work.  I had to make sure I did what needed to be done without anyone keeping me accountable.  It was definitely an adjustment at first, but once I became more confident, it was really great.

How has participating in PIPELINES benefited you?

It really taught me how important teamwork is.  We were in groups of three, and my two other partners were great and we still keep in touch.  One of them actually transferred to UCSB as a chemical engineering major, and he was a great resource to have—he gave me a lot of insight into succeeding in the major.

The entire PIPELINES team was very motivating, and even though it was technically a competition, different groups would talk about their project together and give each other ideas.  I remember there was a really cool project about solar panels that everyone was helping the team out on and it ended up winning!

What are you most proud of from your experience in PIPELINES?

Building my communication skills.  Initially, I was very intimidated working with people who had already graduated and had a larger knowledge base than I did. I had to step up and learn to voice my opinion, which gave me confidence as an engineer.

What did you want to be when you were younger? Is that still an interest of yours?

Growing up, I really liked math, physics, and chemistry.  When it came time to choose a major,  I did not know what to choose, but then I realized I do not have to choose between them, because chemical engineering involves them all!

What are your future plans? Has PIPELINES influenced these plans?

PIPELINES has definitely influenced my future plans.  Prior to PIPELINES, I never wanted to continue on to graduate school, but after the program I can definitely say I want to go to graduate school.

Do you have any advice for people interested in participating in these programs or becoming an engineering major?

I would say it is really important to take initiative.  No one is going to come up to you and help you with the application, you have to start it on your own and be persistent.  And on becoming a chemical engineering major—if it is your passion—go for it. It is hard work but is more than worth it.

What do you like to do for fun?

I love to snowboard.

Anything else you would like to add?

I really just want to thank CSEP for having these opportunities, especially coming from a community college.  Having these programs reaching out to community colleges are definitely beneficial; I'm proof that it's definitely a great cause.


The Problem-based Initiatives for Powerful Engagement and Learning In Naval Engineering and Science (PIPELINES) program is an exciting opportunity for science and engineering undergraduates to participate in an 8-week immersive experience, where teams of students compete in finding the most innovative and effective design solutions to real-world Naval engineering and science design projects.

About The Cooke Bridges Program 

The Cooke Bridges program brings science, engineering, and mathematics community college students to the UC Santa Barbara campus for a one week science intensive residential program hosted at CNSI for a hands-on experience in a dynamic research environment. The students chosen for the program work with graduate student researchers in UCSB science and engineering laboratories, gaining first-hand experience in how scientific research is conducted.


  • Voice: 805.893-7472
  • Fax: 805.893-6132


Center for Science and Engineering Partnerships
University of California
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-6105