Get to Know the Scholarship Awardees (Part 1): Benjamin Davis
Benjamin Davis is a recent graduate from the Linked Learning Silver certified Academy of Engineering and Agriultural Manufacturing at Visalia Unified School District’s Golden West High School. He grew up in Exteter, CA before joining Golden West’s engineering academy. He will be attending the University of Oklahoma in the fall to pursue petroleum engineering.
Linked Learning Alliance: What was your reaction when you first heard that you got the Linked Learning Scholarship?
Benjamin Davis: I was surprised! I know Linked Learning is all throughout California and there are a lot of schools that do it. So I was really in shock when I realized I got one of the five scholarships.
In your essay you noted that you moved schools specifically to be in a pathway. Were you already interested in engineering prior to going to Golden West High School?
I had a rough idea that engineering was a field I wanted to go into — I just didn’t know what kind. Because being [a middle schooler], trying to comprehend what an engineer does is pretty difficult, especially in all of the specific fields. So going into [the academy] was really helpful in helping me narrow down my options.
Where did your interest in engineering come from?
I was pretty good in science and math and stuff and I always had projects. Like I would see something online or in a TV show, I just want to build it. As a kid, I would take my dresser and paint them and put intricate designs on them. I actually built a giant shoebox to keep all my shoes in. Just stuff like that. I’ve always just wanted to build stuff.
How did your experience in a Linked Learning pathway compared to that of your friends who were not in a pathway?
The main difference is that we just get so much more career experience. We were able to go on industry tours and do job shadows. I also did a couple internships. Like when we got to the point of writing resumes, that’s when you could tell the difference in how much more experience academy kids have had versus somebody who hasn’t.
What were some of those experiences?
One of the local [tours] that stood out to me was a company called Warren and Baerg. They make machines that bail hay automatically. We got to go see where the engineers were actually designing it and they were using the exact same design software that we had been working on in class. To see the stuff they were building on there was mind boggling because it was on such a higher level than what we were learning.
And you also did a couple of internships?
Last summer, I did an 100-hour internship at Kaweah Container in the structural design office. It’s a corrugated box company — so I was building prototypes and helping with design and talking to customers. It’s really interesting to be able to go in there and be treated like an equal to some of the other people in there. There’s no way to compare it to something I’ve ever done in a classroom.
From your four years at the Academy, what was something you learned that you’ll be taking with you to college?
It’s definitely learning how to communicate and work effectively with people. When I first got [to the academy], I was the new kid so I was trying to lay low and not talk to anybody. But by practicing engineering, you quickly realize that you’re not going to be able to handle everything all on your own. So you have to learn to delegate and actually be able to communicate effectively with people.
That’s interesting! So the most useful thing you got out of your pathway isn’t even a specific engineering knowledge but more of a soft skill?
Yeah and that’ll carry over. So when I’m working for another company, I’ll know how to communicate with coworkers and hopefully be able to get along with them. Also, not all the kids that [graduate the academy] are going into engineering. Some are going into the Air Force, some are going into art, some are going into medicine or biology. [The pathway experience] just built a really strong foundation in all of those fields.
So how did you decide to pursue petroleum engineering at the University of Oklahoma?
In freshman-year, we took like a week or two and we studied individual engineering fields. At the end of it, what I did is I took my list and I highlighted a few I was interested in and [petroleum engineering ] was the one that stuck out to me. So I applied to some of the best schools in the country for it and was able to get in.
That’s pretty cool! Do you know much about Oklahoma?
No I’ve never been there. I’m looking forward to go find some tornados and go to a Thunders game.
Well, best of luck in Oklahoma and thank you for your time Ben!
Yeah no problem. Thank you!