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Spotlight

Janna Rodriguez

MS ’14, PhD candidate
Mechanical Engineering
Story originally published on Aug 2021
Every paper I’ve written as a graduate student has gone through the Technical Communication Program (TCP).

One of my best research ideas actually came from sitting down at the TCP center during one of the tutoring sessions with Mary, the director of the program. She helped me polish my rough idea into a clear, cohesive, compelling story. Eventually I was able to turn the outcome of this meeting into a research paper. To me, this experience was a testament to the power of good communication. While it’s important to understand what makes for good sentence structure and to know where a comma or semicolon goes, ultimately good writing is about learning how to clearly communicate big ideas and make an impact.

I’m from Merced, California, and as I was approaching high school graduation, UC Merced opened and I had a mentor, Ms. Guerra, who encouraged me to apply. I did and I got in. I took a class in statics and dynamics and was fascinated. I did my Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering with an emphasis in heat transfer. Professor Christopher Viney encouraged me to apply to graduate school, and so I did, and I got in. I completed my master’s in mechanical engineering with an emphasis in manufacturing and design. Today, I am working toward my PhD. My doctoral research is in the world of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS); for example, gyroscopes and accelerometers. These are the sensors that allow our phones, our laptops and satellites to work, just to mention a few. As a PhD student, I have to be able to communicate complex ideas in order to further my research efforts. 

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