The Aerospace Corporation awards STEM Scholarship to future Aerospace Engineer

STEM Scholarship
Image courtesy from Google

The Aerospace Corporation has awarded Carlos Rivas of Verbum Dei High School in Los Angeles the Dr. Wanda M. Austin Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Endowment scholarship. Rivas will receive an annual scholarship of $10,000 for four years with a total value of $40,000. He plans to attend St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota to start undergraduate study for physics in the fall.

“Carlos Rivas has aspired to be an aerospace engineer since he was 8 years old, and we’re excited to start him on the path that will make his dream come true,” said Steve Isakowitz, Aerospace president and CEO. “The Aerospace Corporation is committed to inspiring our industry’s next generation of technical geniuses, thought leaders, and game changers.  Fulfilling their promise is the reason we invest our time and resources in STEM efforts.”

Living  in a low-income, single-parent household in the community of Watts in Los Angeles has not been easy for Rivas. Despite these challenges, he discovered a passion for education early on. Taking a second-grade field trip to the Air and Space exhibit at California Science Center, Los Angeles sparked Rivas’ interest for astronautics. Throughout middle and high school, he worked on building rocket models and studied advanced math and science courses. His passion for engineering led him to establish the Engineering Club at Verbum Dei High School, where he now serves as the club’s president.  He often talks about the importance of proving that his circumstances do not define him, but instead empower him to fight to achieve his goals.  Rivas will be the first-generation college student in his family.

“We are very pleased and excited Carlos Rivas, class of 2017, was awarded the prestigious Dr. Wanda M. Austin STEM Endowment scholarship,” said Dr. Brandi Odom-Lucas, chief academic officer at Verbum Dei High School. “It is a testament to his hard work and dedication to his vision of becoming an aerospace engineer, as well as the support of our incredible STEM teachers at Verbum Dei.”

The Aerospace Corporation established the Dr. Wanda M. Austin STEM Endowment fund in 2015. The fund provides financial assistance to underrepresented and underprivileged high school students who demonstrate academic excellence, strong leadership skills, and intend to pursue undergraduate study in a STEM field at a four-year college or university. The fund is sustained through employee donations, charitable organizations, and estate gifts. More information about the STEM Endowment program can be found at

Aerospace has also been a sponsor of the Verbum Dei High School Corporate Work Study Program for the past 10 years. Every year, four students are given the opportunity to work one day a week as part of their school curriculum.