Thursday, May 10, 2018
  Alumni, Announcements

By Amanda Taylor

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – For Priscilla Castillo, a UTRGV electrical engineering major, commencement really is the starting line, not the end of the line.

Just one month after she graduates, the McAllen resident will head to Dallas to join Texas Instruments as a quality engineer.

After internships at NASA and General Electric, Castillo is more than ready for this new career adventure.

“I’ve always loved math. I thought I wanted to pursue a medical degree, at one point, but once I found electrical engineering within the math field, I fell in love,” she said.

Castillo, a first-generation college graduate, fully realizes her career choice is commonly a male-dominated field.

“When I first started off in engineering classes, I was the only girl out of about 30 guys,” she said. “Eventually, the guys would end up coming to me for help, so that was a good feeling.”

She is one of four women who will be graduating this semester from UTRGV with a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering – out of a class of 33. During her internships, too, Castillo said, she typically was the only female.

“I think women are underrepresented in engineering because a lot of women are not aware that there are so many options within the field,” she said. “It’s also a bit intimidating, since this really is a male-dominated field, but if you’re good at what you’re doing, it won’t matter.”

She has some advice for other girls and women who want to be engineers: “Pursue a career in this field for yourself, and don’t let the men intimidate you,” she said.

During her internship at NASA in Alabama this past year, Castillo helped design an airflow valve that removes carbon dioxide from the air so astronauts can breathe inside the space station. Since design concepts are constantly changing to promote longevity and functionality, Castillo was proud to have worked on a design that eventually will make it into deep space.

“I’ve always dreamed of going to space, so it’s really cool that something I worked on will be up there,” she said.

At Texas Instruments, Castillo will be working with data converters, both analog and digital.

Texas Instruments provides most of the chips you find inside any electronic device, and Castillo will be working closely with semi-conductors. She plans to work on her master’s degree in electrical engineering through Texas Instruments, which provides the necessary programs.

Castillo said events like UTRGV’s HESTEC, and her affiliation with clubs that promote STEM awareness, helped shape her path as an engineer. She was president of the UTRGV IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) club, and focused on outreach efforts to female students.

As a first-generation graduate, Castillo said, it was important that her family helped keep her driven to succeed.

“My parents are really proud of me. They have been my biggest supporters,” she said. “I couldn’t have done it without them.”

Spring Commencement ceremonies will be held 6 p.m. Friday, May 11, on the Student Union Lawn on the Brownsville Campus; and in three ceremonies on Saturday, May 12 – 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. – at the McAllen Convention Center.


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.