Cal State LA engineering graduate dedicated to serving community
The civil engineering major hopes to tackle California’s toughest problems through a public sector career.
By Jillian Beck | Cal State LA News Service
Cal State LA student Kenny Khov started studying civil engineering because he loved to build. He stayed in the major because he wants to serve the public.
“I think the best part is being able to help out the community,” Khov says.
The 26-year-old Rosemead resident graduated on May 24 with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and a 3.7 GPA in the College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology. He hopes to work on projects that tackle the state’s toughest water problems.
At first, Khov thought he wanted to be an architect. Growing up, he loved putting things together, like broken mechanical pencils in elementary school or woodshop projects in middle school. But he later gravitated toward civil engineering because he was drawn to the intensive math and science involved in the discipline.
After high school, Khov worked part-time to make ends meet and help support his family while enrolled in classes at Pasadena City College.
A first generation college student, Khov felt hesitant and insecure socially and academically when he first transferred to Cal State LA. But the professors he had and the friends he made pushed him to grow. He wants other students after him to know they can succeed, too.
“Don’t doubt yourself, if someone believes you can do it, then you really can do it,” Khov says.
Professors Sonya Lopez and Wing Shun Kwan inspired Khov to stretch himself in classes and through research, and served as role models for the kind of person he wants to become, he says.
Khov assisted Kwan with geotechnical engineering research through Cal State LA’s Naval Seafloor Research Laboratory. The research explored non-destructive methods for determining soil properties for underwater missions. The findings were published and presented at the American Society of Civil Engineers 2019 Geo-Congress in March.
Khov, along with fellow engineering students, also restarted a campus chapter of the Structural Engineers Association.
As chapter president, Khov brought real-world experiences to campus for himself and his fellow students. Visiting engineers spoke to students about topics including city retrofitting ordinances and precast concrete. Khov organized a tour of the headquarters of the Los Angeles Football Club, on the northern gateway of Cal State LA, while it was still under construction.
A Dean’s List student, Khov served as a speaker at the College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology’s Honors Convocation. He embodies Cal State LA’s mission of engagement, service, and the public good.
“I always have wanted to help people somehow or someway,” Khov says.
With this ethos in mind, Khov has sought out opportunities in the public sector, interning with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works.
Through his internships, he has worked on sidewalk expansion projects to improve pedestrian and bike safety at intersections and underground tunnels to transport water from Northern to Southern California. “It opened my eyes to the impact engineers can have on society,” Khov says.
After graduation, he will start a job with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works as a civil engineering assistant. He could be working in a variety of areas, including on groundwater filtration and stormwater recycling projects.
Khov wants to use his degree to make the city, county and state a better place.
“I want to be working somewhere where I am actually making an impact on the community,” Khov says.