Alex Torres-Soto

6/2/2020 4:05:42 PM

Alex Torres-Soto is the 2021 recipient of the William R. Schowalter Award.

The junior in the Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering has spent much of his Grainger Engineering career involved in the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) and immersing himself in research opportunities. 

Alex’s record of leadership includes his participation in the Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities Leader-in-Residence Program. In this role he serves as a resource for other students on campus and participates in leadership development programs.

Alex is serving a term as the SHPE Vice-Regional Student Representative for the midwest region. In this role he is responsible for supporting, promoting, and tracking national membership and retention efforts through the Midwest states, as well as coordinating events throughout the region. He is also serving on the SHPE 2021 National Convention Planning Committee. As the Undergraduate Track member on the committee he will help plan the organization’s next conference over the coming months.

For his involvement in STEM outreach activities and his efforts to increase the representation of Hispanic students in higher educational institutions Alex has received the following awards at the national level; ASME Scholarship for a Hispanic Engineer by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Northrop Grumman Scholarship by the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and the AfterCollege Engineering & Technology Student Scholarship by AfterCollege. He has been designated as an HSF Scholar by the Hispanic Scholarship Fund and an SHPE Undergraduate Scholar by the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers.

“As a first-generation Hispanic student, I believe it is my duty to aid the following generation to achieve higher education as we need to lift as we climb,” Alex said. “I willlike to encourage incoming and continuing students to find something they are truly passionate about and make an impact on it during their time at the university.”

For his contributions to research in aerospace and engineering, I have been awarded the Illinois Space Grant Consortium Scholarship by The Illinois Space Grant Consortium two years in a row. 

He credits his time in SHPE with helping him get a clearer understanding of how to reach his career goals in a highly competitive field.

To reach his goals, Alex has taken part in a number of research opportunities. He is an Undergraduate Research Assistant in the Combustion Laboratory, and took part in the NASA Proposal Writing and Evaluating Experience, which gave him the perspective of a NASA proposalreviewer.

In summer of 2020 he was a Design Engineering Intern at Caterpillar and will work in Northrop Grumman’s Space Sector as a Manufacturing Engineering Intern in 2021.

“As I have learned, research is the fundamental block to developing new technology for space exploration which has been my dream for as long as I can remember,” Alex said. 

Receiving the William R. Schowalter Award has relieved some of the financial burden on Alex. It has also motivated him to keep up his academic success, research work, and commitment to helping others now and into the future.

“When I was younger, I did not have a mentor to guide me through my curiosity and now as a first-generation Hispanic student, I must undergo the college process for my family,” Alex said. “I hope that by completing my degree, I can one day give back to the STEM community by helping the next generation realize their potential in the field of engineering.”

In the more immediate future, Alex hopes to pursue a Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering and focus on performing research in propulsion.