Despite coming from disparate disciplines and industries, presenters at Loyola Marymount University Frank R. Seaver College of Science and Engineering’s “Great Minds of STEM” panel all emphasized the importance of a well-rounded science and engineering education, especially the importance of creativity and community.
The three presenters represented half of the lineup of Seaver’s Industry Practice Leaders, a new initiative designed for industry leaders to come to campus to connect with Seaver students. Each offered a short presentation about their own work and applying STEM to a broad range of careers and the applicable advice for students to learn from and network with the panelists.
Traci Minamide, M.S. ’87, represented civil and environmental engineering. As the chief operating officer for the city of Los Angeles Sanitation and Environment, Minamide oversees a department of more than 3,500 employees and an annual budget exceeding $1 billion. Her involvement on the Board of SoCal Water adds to her extensive experience, offering students valuable insights into the complexities of environmental management.
While Minamide emphasized that her LMU education gave her a strong technical foundation, she encouraged the audience to consider different kinds of skills; namely analytical and critical thinking. “Those who show initiative, show motivation, and even an eagerness to learn and employ creative thinking,” she explained. “Problem solving is a huge part of my job, and I look for those outside-the-box thinkers when I hire.”
She encouraged students to join organizations and approach people they don’t know, always keeping an open mind. “Find out what really excites you and do that. Find your passion.”
From the world of technology, Josh Mosqueira, the game director at Bad Robot Games, shared his expertise. Mosqueira, a co-founder of Bonfire Studios and the mastermind behind Diablo III, gave the audience a peek into his journey through the dynamic and ever-evolving landscape of the gaming industry.
He brought up three words he tries to live by: curiosity, courage, and creativity. “Play is a word we do not take seriously enough,” Mosqueira explained.
He said he considers storytelling fundamental to the human experience and emphasized that community and human relationships are at the center of everything he does. “We are all created to be creative. Creativity can help you solve problems in different ways,” he said.
Kirk Tamaddon, M.D., brought his medical expertise to the spotlight as the area medical director and chief of staff at Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center. His insights into health care management and patient care resonated with not just the aspiring medical professionals in the audience, but everyone in attendance — including the other panelists.
“I always start with gratitude,” he said. “It takes an entire team to do what we do at Kaiser, and those people and relationships are central to our success.”
Emphasizing community and teamwork, he also implored that folks find good ways to communicate effectively. How to do this? By building relationships, networking, and taking seriously that LMU is itself a great community.
“Stay away from people who don’t support your goals,” he said. “Find the people who will help you, cheer for you, and take your goals seriously.”
The first Seaver Spotlight of the academic year was attended by members of the LMU community including representatives from student clubs and organizations, as well as faculty across departments. When asked by a student how the three panelists were able to practice what they preached, they offered this advice:
“I think you should acknowledge when you’re already doing it naturally — and continue to take risks. I met a few of you already and connected and communicated with you. You’re doing it!” Minamide encouraged.
“Find the time to prioritize that creativity,” Mosqueira advised.
“Practice, take risks, and be willing to go first,” Tamaddon told the student who asked the question. “You already did that by asking a question others might have had. You went first.”