From Intern to Engineer
BS '16, Computer Science
Meet Julian Medina (BS ‘16, Computer Science), a Cal State East Bay alumnus, who is a Junior Engineer for BART, Bay Area Rapid Transit.
As an Engineer in Train Control Engineering at BART, he is required to shadow maintenance during graveyard shifts (when the majority of work at BART gets completed) so he can learn more about the system. The tasks on graveyard shifts can also vary greatly. You might be working on the track inspecting equipment, up in the cab of a train working with a Train Operator to test new software, or working in an equipment room. Medina's current assignment includes working on the project to expand BART to Milpitas and Berryessa/North San José.
Q&A with Julian
Why did you decide to attend Cal State East Bay?I was fortunate to grow up in Oakland and attend diverse public schools. As such, I wanted to experience the same type of environment after high school. Immediately after stepping onto Cal State East Bay's Hayward campus I felt at home by its diverse and welcoming atmosphere. The campus also offered a quick commute from home and financial aid support that significantly helped me pay for my education here.
How has your education here at East Bay helped you with your endeavors?My experience at Cal State East Bay taught me to keep persisting even if the path to success is difficult. When I selected Computer Science as my major, I wasn't sure if it'd be possible because of the required intense classes. However, the instructors I had at Cal State East Bay were always willing to help out so long as students cared. Hank Stalica would gladly stay after class ended (past 10 p.m,) to help out if a student had a difficult time understanding a concept, Kathy Hann would make sure you understood the material before leaving her office hours, and Julie Glass would always do her best to keep class entertaining. I've found the same to be true for my career. At BART, there is always something to learn but by asking questions, working graveyard shifts, and putting in an honest effort, supervisors and co-workers will go the extra mile to help you. Moreover, you will not only benefit yourself but the entire community as well.
What is your fondest memory of CSUEB?
During Freshman year, we were required to participate in Freshman Day of Service. At first, I wasn't entirely looking forward to waking up early on a Saturday morning after a long school week. However, it turned out to be a memorable experience. I met new people and helped out with an important cause.
Tell us a little bit about your career journey.
During one late night back in early-2015, I was logged onto the Blackboard Student Portal and noticed an announcement for a BART career event. I was always interested in public transportation and back then would take BART to CSUEB. I attended the event and immediately knew that it was meant to be and applied for their internship program. After a couple of interviews, I received an offer for Summer of 2015 with their Train Control Engineering Division within Maintenance & Engineering. This particular division works with equipment that tells trains how fast to go, keeps a safe distance between trains, and train position. Immediately following the internship, I knew BART was where I wanted to work after graduated Cal State East Bay. I had another internship with the same division in the Summer of 2017 and started as a Junior Engineer in October 2018.
Tell us about your experience working at BART as a Junior Engineer.
Projects at BART can vary greatly from day to day. Some are aimed at helping staff in the daily operation whereas some require immediate attention and require you to stop all current projects to help. I recall that one day my supervisor approached me and mentioned that a computer that monitors a major Train Control asset went down at the Communications room. I collected information and was able to have the monitoring screen back by the expected time. Other issues can be much more bizarre. In one instance, a Train Operator advised me that there were two particular run numbers at Pittsburg/Bay Point that would always try to run through the platform without stopping possibly causing delays. I was able to work with technicians during graveyard shifts to diagnose and resolve the issue. As an Engineer in Train Control Engineering at BART, you are required to shadow maintenance during graveyard shifts (when the majority of work at BART gets completed) so you can learn more about the system. The tasks on graveyard shifts can also vary greatly. You might be working on the track inspecting equipment, up in the cab of a train working with a Train Operator to test new software, or working in an equipment room. My current project involves testing the vital train control equipment on the extension down to Milpitas and Berryessa/North San José.
If you could share one piece of advice with Pioneer students, what would that be?
As cliché as it sounds, keep working for your goals even if they seem out of reach! Go to office hours, reach out to SCAA for help, and study whenever you have the chance. I was always interested in computers and public transportation but never thought I would be able to get a degree in Computer Science. With work ethic and the excellent support of Cal State East Bay, I was able to fulfill my goals.