As a new resident of Kern County and Bakersfield, and as the new dean of Cal State Bakersfield's School of Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Engineering, I have been struck by the warm community and industry support for the university.

March 15 was a textbook example of this support, with the "Science of the Dust Bowl" event and "Dust Bowl Dreams" play. The event was funded by Pacific Gas and Electric Company, planned and executed by student groups with the assistance of faculty and staff, and attended by a wide swath of community. Although aimed at elementary schools kids, they brought along their siblings, parents and grandparents.

Our goal was to provide interactive, hands-on science activities in the context of local history -- and kids' personal history, since many area families came here during the Dust Bowl era.

Scientists, engineers, mathematicians and health professionals are made, not born. We believe that they are made from events like this: when young kids see that science is fun and think, "I want to be a scientist when I grow up." (Or an engineer, or a mathematician, or a nurse.)

Thanks to PG&E for its farsighted commitment to the science and engineering professionals of the future. Thanks to our students and faculty who worked so hard the weekend before finals. And thanks to the community for coming out in force and showing that science is for everyone -- and that CSUB is your university.

Anne Houtman

Natural Sciences, Math and Engineering

Cal State Bakersfield