People of Lockheed Martin: Meet Luis
Years at Lockheed Martin: 5
Current Position: Circuit Design Engineer
Day-to-day Responsibilities: Designs and develops circuits used in electronic modules of high-level systems. This included schematic capture, analysis, layout, fabrication and integration & test of assemblies.
Can you tell us about your journey?
Over the past 5 years, I have been serving in the Hispanic Organization for Leadership and Awareness (HOLA) business resource group in many different capacities across different business areas. In my current role, I serve as the President of HOLA in one of our Orlando sites. My main area of focus is Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) outreach. Throughout my many roles, I’ve donated hundreds of hours to inspire thousands of students to pursue a career in STEM. And why am I so passionate about doing all this you may ask? Well, that’s because my biggest failure has been spending $225K to become an Engineer!
As a first-generation immigrant college student, my parents did not have the wisdom to provide me with the proper guidance. So, with a recommendation from a professor, I decided to apply for college to become an engineer. Little did I know that my lack of focus on school work during high school would have so many consequences.
I proceeded to apply for college with lackluster grades, abysmal SAT scores, and with little guidance. After many rejection letters, I received a letter of acceptance and started my academic career in Electronics Engineering. With very little money, I was off to college in pursuit of my career.
With a new-found freedom and terrible study habits, I began my college career and at the end of four years, I managed to graduate with a 2.9 GPA, very little retained knowledge, and $120K in student loans! Upon graduation, I started to seek employment. That’s when a family friend, Al, managed to get me an interview at his employer. After a terrible interview process, I was not offered the job and was given feedback of “It’s almost as if you didn’t learn anything in 4 years”.
With my naïve mindset, I decided to pursue a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering thinking that I would finally learn something this time around! Little did I know that this decision would be a turning point in my life. After two semesters, I found myself struggling academically and spent an additional $20K in student loans. While in the office of my academic advisor, I was given the advice to go back to undergrad and learn what I needed to learn and come back. I had also signed a letter of academic disqualification. If I did not get my GPA above a 3.0 by the next semester, I would be disqualified and would not be able to return to grad school.
At this point, I had found myself in a position where I was going to be barred from my Master’s program with $140K in student loans and no way to pay it back! That’s when I called my girlfriend (who is now my wife), Yesenia, in tears asking for her advice. She told me “you got yourself into this mess and now you are going to get yourself out of it. Just know, that I’ll be here to support you every step of the way”. And from that day forward, I spent 12 to 15 hours a day at school with 1 ½ hour commute each way relearning my courses from undergrad while completing my graduate level courses. I was so focused and determined that I was able to graduate with a 3.1 GPA, but, with $187K in student loans!
After completing my Master’s degree, I decided to pursue a career a with Lockheed Martin and was offered an opportunity in Moorestown NJ. During my first couple of weeks, my mentor Larry, gave me a piece of advice, “Luis, you need to understand what it means to make the income that you are making today. Be wise with this new-found income”. With that advice and a bit more, I started tackling my mountain of student loans.
This new goal of being debt free, drove me to pursue any and every opportunity that was available to me. That’s when I decided to participate in the Engineering Leadership Development Program (ELDP). During my time in the program, I sought every opportunity to grow personally and professionally. This led me to working overtime in order to generate additional income and even led to the pursuit of my second Master’s degree in Computer Engineering with a focus in Security and Networks.
As of December 2019, I can proudly say that I have graduated with my second Master’s degree with a 3.71 GPA. This was accomplished while paying off both my wife’s and my student loan debt totaling over $337K. After five years, we are now DEBT FREE!
To celebrate this major achievement, we decided to invite our biggest cheerleaders to a two weeks Panama Canal cruise with all expenses paid!! So, while my biggest failure was spending 225k to become an engineer, it has also served as my biggest teacher. I hit rock bottom, bounced right back up not only to make things right in my life, but to help others not make the same mistakes.
My journey is one of adversities, but it’s also one of possibilities! That’s why I’m passionate about my involvement with HOLA. It provides me with a platform to give back, to share my message, and motivate students to avoid the mistakes I made while in pursuit of a STEM career.
Do you have a will to succeed and a passion to share your lessons with others? If so, think about joining the Lockheed Martin team.