2 students in yellow shirts are coding root robots
The K-12 STEM Center follows all University guidelines for protecting students, families, teachers, and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn More.
The K-12 STEM Center develops strategies and builds initiatives to meet the needs of a diverse population, specifically in efforts to increase the representation of female students and African American/Black, Hispanic/LatinX/Latine, Native/Indigenous students in its STEM programs, such as Engineering Transformer. Some of those efforts include outreach, mentorship, and scholarships. However, all STEM Center programs are open to all students in compliance with Federal and State law, as well as University policy.

At Engineering Transformer we aim to increase:

Increase student interest, confidence, and motivation/ engagement in STEM through hands-on projects and activities that utilize various technological tools to solve real-world issues or problems.

Collaborate and enhance LAUSD teachers and staff's confidence, and understanding of STEM through teacher training in best practices that include technology and curricula.
Cultivate and engage families and communities in STEM experiences.
  • Once a week after school program.
  • 60-minute lessons.
  • Monthly training for teachers on curriculum and technology.
  • USC student assistants are available as technical support.
  • Fall and Spring Cohorts of 24 students.
  • Family STEM Nights to engage families.
  • End-of-year student showcase to highlight student projects.

Each unit is stand-alone, encompassing 3-4 introductory activities and projects. At the end of each unit there is an open-ended, creative challenge. At the end of the year, students are challenged to create or recreate a project from the year to highlight at a student showcase. 

  • Computer Science
  • Coding
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • 3D Printing
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Drones
  • Laptops
  • Makey Makey
  • VEX GO kits
  • Root Robots
  • Codrones
  • 3D Printer

Penuelas is a former classroom teacher who uses her experience and background in STEM education to develop cross-curricular and responsive teaching strategies. "I encourage students to learn through their own cultural and experiential filters. I want students to know that no matter where you come from, you can do and be anything you want."

Mary is the Associate Director at the USC Viterbi K-12 STEM Center, leading the Center's Assessment and Evaluation activities and Elementary-Level programs. "My goal with my programs is for students to develop a new way of thinking and viewing the world around them. Having a scientist and engineer's mindset opens a whole new world of opportunities."

Niharika is a graduate student pursuing MS in Aerospace Engineering at USC with a focus on sustainable materials and manufacturing. "As part of the Engineering Transformer Team, I want to help students discover and continue their passion for STEM and help provide equal opportunities for all students no matter their background". She moved to California from India in 2022, and in her free time, she enjoys reading, playing the guitar, and listening to music.

Zareen is an undergraduate student studying Cybersecurity- learning how to protect against cyber threats in a world with technology all around us. Having a work history in mentoring and working with kids, the Engineering Transformers program allows her to continue making an impact on youth. Aside from school, she enjoys traveling, trying new foods, and going to concerts.

Mahita is a graduate student working towards a Master's in Electrical and Computer engineering at USC, with a focus on Machine learning and data science. “ As a member of the Engineering Transformer Team, I aim to introduce K-12 students to the marvels of STEM and engineering, thus contributing to the creation of a more promising and equitable future”. She moved to California from Mumbai, India and enjoys cooking, reading and travelling in her free time.

How do I learn more?
Reach out to Engineering Transformer Program Manager, Mary Bonaparte- Saller at
As we grow, we are often looking to connect with local school/district partners

A USC Viterbi K-12 STEM Center program
supported by The John Branca Family.

Published on August 15th, 2022

Last updated on November 14th, 2023