Engineering Technology student wins coveted Siemens design award

By Cheryl Taylor

BROWNSVILLE & EDINBURG, TEXAS – OCT. 12, 2015 – Mario Castillo, a junior engineering technology student at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, did not spend his summer lounging on the beach or playing video games.

Instead, he took two difficult classes, simultaneously, with one of his favorite professors, Dr. Immanuel Edinbarough, professor in the Department of Manufacturing and Industrial Engineering, College of Engineering and Computer Science.

In his Robots in Manufacturing class, Castillo was on a team that made an autonomous mobile robot. And in his Engineering Design Graphics II class, he designed a futuristic all-terrain vehicle, which he entered in a design contest sponsored by the Siemens Corp.

The end of the summer brought good news: Castillo had been named a Siemens 2015 Student Design Contest Winner.

The award was made official when Dr. Juan Iglesias – interim associate dean for intercampus coordination, College of Engineering and Computer Science, and professor in the Department of Computer Science – presented Castillo with his Siemens certificate and prize, an iPad mini, on Friday, Oct. 2 at the Science and Engineering Technology Building on the Brownsville Campus.

“This makes all that hard work worthwhile, being recognized by a global company that is known for its engineering excellence,” Castillo said.

Castillo got the idea for his competition design vehicle from his hobby – customizing lights on cars, trucks and ATVs for family and friends.

The competition specified use of the Siemens NX Product Lifecycle Management (NXPLM) computer program – a new CAD (Computer-Aided Design) program for Castillo.

“I would learn and apply, and that way progressed through my project design from concept to components to finished product,” he said. “I even designed the ballbearings, brake discs, the dashboard and tires. The NXPLM is amazing. It allows engineers to complete all design and testing aspects of a project, including the ability to test performance and analysis on stress, force and tolerance.”

Edinbarough said the challenge as a teacher is to motivate his students in a way that they become passionate about a subject, and then to push them to seek and hone their skills in and out of the classroom.

“I got the full satisfaction of generating Mario’s interest so that he would push himself to do challenging projects,” Edinbarough said. “He has put many hours of work beyond the class requirement and hence, he was able to win this prestigious award.”

Edinbarough commends Siemens’ role in motivating future engineers by recognizing and rewarding their creative and engineering problem-solving abilities through a global design contest.

This is the second consecutive year one of Edinbarough’s students has been named a Siemens Student Design Contest Winner. Last year, Michael Barrera, who will graduate in December 2015, won with his design of a hydraulic rocket.

Castillo said he initially was interested in mechanical engineering.

“Then I learned about the engineering technology program, and when I tried it, I knew it was the one for me,” he said. “We study all aspects of engineering. That’s what I like – being able to use my creativity more.”

Castillo has taken classes with Dr. Edinbarough every semester since joining the engineering technology program.

“Dr. Edinbarough is such an inspirational professor – he pushes us to do better all the time,” Castillo said. “He makes us look at the big picture, to see how and why things work. He is generous with his time and he opens the door for his students, bringing in representatives from companies and helping students find internships.”

Castillo also credits one of his sisters, Janie, for being his college role model. After dropping out for a few years, she returned to The University of Texas at Brownsville / Texas Southmost College to obtain her bachelor’s degree in education, and now teaches bilingual kindergarten at El Jardin Elementary School in Brownsville.

“I remember seeing her up late, working hard, studying, and now she is a teacher,” Castillo said. “Her support and the support of my parents has been very helpful and important to me.”