Celebrating Diversity - Andrea Paola Arguelles

  • Andrea and her husband on vacation

Celebrating Diversity: Andrea Paola Arguelles

Andrea taking a selfie

Sept. 15 - Oct. 15

In the College of Engineering, all are welcome. To better share the stories of how our faculty, staff, students and alumni are diverse in their many varying forms, we are celebrating various heritage and other nationally recognized months. This recognition will include stories about those in our greater engineering community, as well as sharing events and other opportunities.

Andrea Paola Arguelles

Ph.D. 2016, Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, UNL / Assistant Professor in Engineering Science and Mechanic, Penn State University

Q: Describe a bit about your personal and/or professional background.

A: I was born and raised in Venezuela and moved to the US in 2007. I obtained my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in 2011 and 2012, respectively; and received my doctorate degree in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2016. I joined Penn State University in 2018 as an Assistant Professor in Engineering Science and Mechanics. My research interests involve analytical and experimental studies of wave propagation and scattering with the overarching objective of advancing ultrasonic testing toward cutting-edge material characterization.

Q: What is your role in the College of Engineering – and what do you enjoy (love!) about what you are doing?

A: I am a COE alumna, and currently a professor of engineering at Penn State. I love being able to interact with students on a daily basis and potentially impact their trajectory like many mentors throughout my life impacted mine.

Q: Why is your heritage meaningful to you and your family? Is there a specific example/event/tradition of how you showcase or celebrate your heritage in its many forms?

A: My heritage is an integral part of my identity. I did not realize how much until I left my home country to pursue higher education in the US. The biggest lesson I carry with me from my Hispanic upbringing is the importance of family. Growing up, we would always make sure to spend Christmas Eve together. With five siblings, many of them married and with their own families, we still coordinate to get together as a family with our parents every other year. We make Venezuelan hallacas, no matter what part of the world we are in and enjoy a traditional Venezuelan Christmas Eve dinner.

Andrea hiking in the mountains.

Q: How do you bring your own unique background to your role/responsibilities in the college or in your professional life?

A: My personal background enables me to have the necessary empathy to uplift STEM students from historically excluded groups. I am able to relate to their experiences on a personal level that allows them to open up to me and ask for the resources they need to succeed.

Q: What advice or words of wisdom could you share with others in our engineering community (staff, faculty, students, alums)?

A: Embrace your identity and find a community that will always allow you to be your full self. For me, this has meant (1) finding a group of peers that are open to listening and understanding my experience even if their own upbringing has been wildly different, and (2) building a network of mentors for the different areas of my life.