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HESTEC QUICK HIT: Dr. Karen Lozano shares some experiments, and stories of her journey

Dr. Karen Lozano, UTRGV professor of Mechanical Engineering, launches an inflated tube into the audience during HESTEC Latina Day on Oct. 5, following an experiment she had students do to illustrate a scientific principle that enables airplanes to fly. (UTRGV Photo by Paul Chouy)

By Gail Fagan

EDINBURG, TEXAS – OCT. 5, 2016 – Female students from the Region One ESC and their mothers were teamed against each other to see who could inflate a 5-foot-long tubular balloon the fastest, during a breakout session led by UTRGV mechanical engineering professor Dr. Karen Lozano, during HESTEC’s Latina Day on Oct. 5.

Directed by Lozano, the winning team – standing a foot away and with one breath, rather than blowing into it like a regular balloon – inflated the tube within seconds, demonstrating Bernoulli’s principle of air pressure, which relates to how airplanes fly.

“It is important to know the science behind this experiment. But also, what can you do with that knowledge?” she said, noting that some type of engineering is behind almost everything you see or use every day.

Lozano told her audience of 75 that she was reluctant, at first, to enter her field of mechanical engineering because she saw only boys in the college classrooms she toured.

But her mom told her, “Do something you like.”

Describing her life’s journey, Lozano said hard work and self-responsibility was key to becoming the first female to receive a mechanical engineering degree from Rice University, and later, the inventor of a more efficient way to produce nanofibers that was turned into a successful company.

Her accomplishments even have landed her at the White House, giving President Obama her advice on fostering Latina entrepreneurship.

“Hard work – it is going to hurt,” she said. “But the only way to go up is to climb the stairs.”

Before leaving, Lozano invited the possible budding engineers and their mothers to visit her YouTube site, Karen's Lab, to ask about the engineering behind anything – even their lipstick or hair conditioner.

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