Erik Venegas '95, Mechanical Engineering
He didn't know it at the time, but taking apart his skateboard and parents' lawnmower at a young age gave Erik Venegas the skills he needed to one day have any child's dream job -- playing with toys for a living.
On the surface it may seem like Venegas' career is all fun and games. However, as a project engineer for Mattel, he makes sure the company's products meet worldwide safety standards.
Yes, he gets to play with toys. But, he does so in order to develop test methods to determine if they are safe for children.
Venegas looks forward to helping Cal Poly Pomona students achieve their goals through the Bronco Mentoring Program.
“When I was in school I benefited from the minority engineering mentoring program,” he said. “I would love to now give back and help others.”
Venegas credits his “tough” experience at Cal Poly Pomona for his ability to make critical day-to-day decisions.
“The instructors at Cal Poly were always adding unique twists to problems,” said Venegas, who graduated in 1995 with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering. “This training helped keep us on our toes and looking for many solutions and pitfalls. Because I work in safety, I need to be confident of my decision-making abilities and technical skills, all of which I got from Cal Poly Pomona.”
Venegas is happy where his career has led him, though he did not always envision a career in the toy industry. Coming out of college he wanted to become an energy consultant where he hoped to work with fluid dynamics, a joy of his. Venegas worked at a sprinkler company for a short while, but eventually was drawn into the toy business.