Joseph Schmidt

Joseph Schmidt

Name: Joseph Schmidt
Age: 21
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: McAllen 

I chose UTRGV because it’s close to home. It was a 15-minute drive from home, but more than that, it represented what I stood for - a community of individuals who strive for success by the grit of their work. It allowed me the opportunity to be in a class setting of 15 to 30 other students who could talk with the professor, not just about academics, but relate to them on a personal level. For me, UTRGV represents the Valley’s untouched potential that will propel the Hispanic community into the spotlight. South Texas won’t just be the place south of San Antonio or Austin, it will be known by the name of UTRGV.

What made you decide on your current major?
As a child, I decided I wanted to become a scientist, so I could build with my hands. It wasn’t until early in high school I narrowed it down to engineering and decided on mechanical engineering. That decision may have slightly been influenced by wanting to join my best friend in mechanical engineering at UTRGV, but a big part was the notion that mechanical engineers can work in several different industries. With this diversity in choice of industry, I’ve decided to focus on the aerospace industry to work on propulsion systems for spacecraft. I figured if I can’t make cars go faster, at least I can make a spacecraft go faster.

What do you like most about UTRGV?
I love the groups on campus! I’m heavily involved with the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) and have found a lot of friends and opportunities through this organization. I also am a part of the Filipino Student Association (FSA) and their dance team! The best part about these clubs on campus is the diversity each student brings and the unity of interest that each club promotes.

What are some of your favorite study spots on campus?
My go-to spot for studying must be the library third floor. I always feel less distracted there and can get into “the zone.” Every now and then I’ll meet up with friends at the Student Union to talk and catch up with them or just get some food. Every time I go to the library, I always see members of FSA in the first-floor lobby area and love to hang out with them too!

What does being a Vaquero mean to you?
For me, being a Vaquero means sticking to my roots and always working hard to see my goals come to fruition. As a child, my family traveled lived in three different continents. However, living in Mexico always felt like home for me. As a UTRGV student, I remember my Hispanic heritage and use it to inspire me to work harder every day to promote STEM for Hispanics throughout the U.S.

What opportunities has UTRGV helped you find throughout your community?
Through UTRGV’s C-Stem program offered by through the math department, I was able to intern at UT Austin and work alongside Sandia National Labs! Moreover, through the SHPE National Conference, I was able to intern this past summer at MIT at their MIT Summer Research Program (MSRP)! I have no doubt these opportunities will become more frequent for students in the Valley and will demonstrate that the Valley has enormous potential. Many of the professors, including Dr. Crown and Professor Al-Shalash, have pushed me beyond the limits I placed on myself allowing me to work with coding and applied robotics projects that I only thought I could do in graduate school.

What are a few of your favorite books?
I’d have to go with some sci-fi classics. My top book is “Ender’s Game” because it has a plausible view of humanity’s progress as an interstellar species. It details the problems we may eventually experience and some of the outcomes of becoming an interstellar species. My second pick would have to go to “I-robot” by Isaac Asimov. In it, he details a world of artificially intelligent robots restricted by design only to help humanity; however, certain misunderstandings in the robot’s code cause them to behave unexpectedly! It’s a nice exercise for the brain to follow the nuances in logic that eventually we might have to iron out with artificially intelligent systems like self-driving cars and automation.

What’s in your playlist right now?
A good artist I always love to sing along to is Josean Log. One of his songs, “Chachacha,” was so good I’m determined to learn it on the ukulele and I’ve never played any musical instrument besides a recorder! I also like electronic music that has a good beat, so I can perfect my dancing skills!