Luis Rodriguez-Perez graduates from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte within the month with a degree in Systems Engineering. Luis found the program of study very much within his interests, his gifts.
“Systems Engineering, or Industrial Engineering, attracts those typically good at math, problem solving, critical thinking and building things,” says Luis. “I was very good at math; calculus - and I liked working on teams and working with my hands.” It has proven to be a very good fit.
A first-generation college student, Luis recalls promising his parents that he would work hard through college and that he would find a job even before graduating. He has kept his promise and is slated to begin work with Trane Technologies after graduation. He credits research, listening and asking questions as key to success. “Manufacturing wasn’t on my mind before, but after my internships I had a whole different realization of the opportunities.”
“My first internship, in my freshman year, really opened my eyes to the opportunities in engineering – and manufacturing.” Luis completed a later internship at Trane Technologies that employed a rotational assignment approach, and it cemented his interest, renewed his passion, and set his path.
Scholarships were an important enabler of achievement. A recipient of the SME Education Foundation’s Myrtle and Earl Walker Scholarship, Luis noted that hard work, financial support, and the encouragement of his family were critically important. “School requires dedication, a commitment to study. My parents accomplished so much and provided so much support and encouragement. It was a burden – but we balanced that load. I gave them my word.”
Inquisitive, exploring and problem solving, Luis also holds a welding certificate and applies his experiences and knowledge creatively. “I converted my conventional cycle into an e-bike; built and fabricated a support structure for a friend’s drum set.”
A member of SME and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Luis feels compelled to encourage and share information and counsel about opportunity and commitment. “SHPE offers a supportive, family culture, whether a student is first-gen or not: it’s about sharing knowledge and experiences.”
For his younger brother and sister, Luis has both counsel and commitment. “I tell them: ‘Do what you’re passionate about.’ I will support them no matter what. Like my parents, I want to see my family succeed.”