“I grew up in Linda Vista, in the Upward Bound program in high school and I was here during the summer,” he said. “I knew all the workers at USD and I was very familiar with the soccer fields. It was all very natural to me. When I came here for college, one of the perks was that I didn’t get lost on campus my freshman year.”
Rubi’s relationship with the university, where he’s spent the last five years earning a dual BA/BS degree in mechanical engineering, will have a new title on May 22 — USD alumnus.
“Five years went by really quick,” said Rubi, 23. “I’ve grown and developed a lot here. Mechanical engineering has been a challenge, but I’m ready to apply what I’ve learned in the real world, the engineering world.”
He and classmates Brandon Blom, Anthony Toops and David Cardinale gave their senior engineering project presentation at the May 6 Engineering Spring Open House, completing their biggest task prior to graduation. Their project was developing a computer-controlled CNC plasma cutter that does precise and complex cuts for a variety of metals.
“It was a full-time job for us in that it took twice the amount of time, but our project wasn’t like some of the other ones that were manufactured. We built ours from the ground up,” Rubi said.
Hands-on work is the norm for mechanical engineering students. Rubi’s work over the years includes learning how to manufacture injection molding, building a single-cylinder engine, a writing pen and a teardrop guitar. It’s all tangible work that gives a student a broad sense of accomplishment.
Another accomplishment is Rubi’s role in the Hahn University Center. He’s been a highly valued student worker who has handled several tasks. He’s sold tickets in the UC Box Office, set up countless rooms for hundreds of events, handled all kinds of technology issues and worked with student organizations on campus scheduling issues. Tuesdays and Thursdays, always the busiest days at USD because of its mandatory “dead hours” between 12:15-2 p.m. and plethora of events, is Rubi’s time to shine. “I don’t get to sit down for more than 10 minutes,” he said.
Balancing engineering and UC work commitments keep Rubi busy, but he still finds time for social activities. He participates in USD’s Filipino Student Ugnayan Organization (FUSO), USD’s American Society of Mechanical Engineers chapter, and he plays for Epic Proportions, an intramural basketball team. He’s also an avid fisherman — a 35-pound yellowfin tuna is his biggest catch — and has worked for Point Loma’s Grande Sportfishing.
His experiences at USD are many, but the assistance of the federally funded TRiO Student Support Services (SSS) program has been huge for Rubi. SSS works specifically with students from low-income families, underrepresented groups, first-generation college students and students with documented disabilities.
Rubi, who came to the United States at age 11 with five of six siblings and his parents from the Philippines, got involved in TRiO’s Upward Bound while attending Kearny High School. He received academic tutoring, mentoring and more to prepare him for college. He was introduced to engineering through a separate organization, the ACE Mentor Program. When Rubi chose USD, it was a good fit because of location, its engineering program and one sibling, Eduardo Rubi Jr., was here as an accounting major.
Edmon Rubi’s arrival at USD in the fall of 2006 coincided with the SSS launch of its Summer Bridge orientation program that helps students make the adjustment from high school to college. He moved into his residence hall early, met other students, did some San Diego-based activities and met faculty who conducted a mini-college class. It let Rubi and other SSS students know there was a strong support system in place.
“They were always there for me, especially that first year,” Rubi said. Used to getting A’s and B’s in high school, Rubi got a C grade in a calculus course and it was tough for him to accept. SSS staff members wouldn’t let him get down, showing him support and motivating him to work through it. He befriended upper-division mechanical engineering students who also provided encouragement. “The moral support was huge,” he said.
As his academic success grew, so, too, did his vision of what USD should be. Through the United Front Multicultural Center, he got involved in a “Wake Up” diversity movement that started December 2007. This event, and others like it to address the need for more inclusion and diversity on campus, prompted the President’s Advisory Board on Inclusion and Diversity (PABID) to approved the creation of the Center for Inclusion and Diversity (CID), which opened last September with an office in the UC.
“It was really big for me to see that happen,” Rubi said.
But now, with only two final exams left, Rubi’s time as an undergraduate student is drawing to a close. He’s relieved to be wrapping up his academic requirements, pursuing an engineering job and ready to celebrate graduation with his family and relatives. He said his graduation party already has nearly 70 guests. Each USD student gets 10 tickets to the 2 p.m. ceremony on May 22, but he’s been asking friends if they have extras because he has aunts and uncles who also want to savor his big day — one that has been worth the wait.
— Ryan T. Blystone