Alumni Spotlight (2021)
Dariush Seif did not have a lot of direction coming out of Corona High School. Unsure what he wanted to do in life, he enrolled at Norco College as a Computer Science major, but after a couple years of increased exposure to math, physics, and computer science, he realized his passion for physics and engineering.
He recalls working part-time while taking six-week night and weekend classes.
“The atmosphere at Norco College was surprisingly relaxed, and the diversity of students, both in age, race, and background was truly unique, and added to the experience,” he said. “It was crazy to me, having just come out of high school, and now taking classes alongside older, experienced professionals furthering their education. The classes were engaging and well-paced, and the counselors were helpful in making sure I stayed on the transfer path.”
Seif recalls having great teachers and memorable classes, and credits Norco College for playing an important part in transitioning him from being a somewhat uninspired high school kid with no direction and few interests, to a more confident, driven student, eager to learn more about the world, and ready to hit the ground running.
“It was at Norco College where I grew to love learning, and my attitude was always that as long as I was enjoying what I was learning, the career stuff would eventually fall into place,” Seif said.
Seif fondly remembers Dr. Terry O’Neill, his favorite Physics professor.
“With a clear passion for the subject matter, and very dry sense of humor, he made learning come to life,” Seif said. “I still think about those days, and the privilege I had in discovering how the physical world works through Dr. O’Neill’s lectures.”
His newfound passion for learning landed him at UCLA, where he earned a bachelor’s, masters and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering. He studied the nano-scale behavior of materials exposed to extreme conditions such as fusion reactor environments and explosive impacts. His graduate research opened opportunities to give talks at conferences around the world and led to a two-year postdoctoral position at a research institute in Germany.
His educational journey guided him to working in the field of intellectual property as a Primary Patent Examiner with the US Patent & Trademark office. He analyzes applications for patent protection in the latest technologies. He researches different technologies and works with inventors and their attorneys on securing patents for their inventions.
“In my experience, community colleges allowed access to higher education in a unique and non-traditional way,” Seif said. “In high school, I had not positioned myself in a way to be ready for university (studies). With low fees and no barrier for entry, Norco College allowed me — and others like me — to quickly make up for time lost and prepared me to enter UCLA. And it made financial sense. It was a bonus that some of the classes I took at Norco College were among the best I have taken anywhere.”
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