Engineering graduate battling health issues overcomes obstacles

Stephanie Castro/Staff Writer

Jorge Cisternas, a recent graduate from the University, became interested in engineering through his father, a computer engineer.

“I always found engineering to be interesting because it solves real world problems through the use of critical thinking, math and science,” he said. “Since I was a little kid, I was good with math and science, therefore I knew that I wanted to become an engineer since I was in middle school.”

Cisternas co-founded and became president of the Aerospace Engineering Club which led him to his interest in aerospace engineering – a field that offers hands-on experience in working with aircrafts in the professional world.  

Andres Tremante, Cisternas’ professor from the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University and his Aerospace Engineering Club co-founder, said that Cisternas has been a strong leader during his  student life, especially for his organization.

“His leadership is unique and he has been not only one of my best students, but a very mature and professional one as well,” said Tremante.   

However, it wasn’t always easy for Cisternas. Throughout his academic career, he faced many health challenges, namely stomach problems and ulcers that had him bedridden for months. He also suffered from a paroxysm of depression and anxiety attacks.

“I learned that no matter how dark or obscure the path may look, one needs to learn how to push through obstacles in life,” he said.

Like many students, Cisternas also struggled with his career choice.

“I had my doubts about studying engineering because I knew how hard the classes would be, and I was considering other majors. However, I decided that I wanted to become an engineer in that moment and stuck with it ever since.”

A wise decision on Cisternas’ part, who through an internship at Lockheed Martin, a global aerospace, defense and security company, secured a full-time job.

Cisternas attributes many of his opportunities to the networking events he attended.

“[I recommend students] attend many conferences such as Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers … That was one of the ways I was able to get multiple job offers: … attend these conferences and get better at networking,” he said.

Cisternas received his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering on Tuesday, Dec. 13. He hopes that with his degree, he can help defend and protect the country by working with the latest simulators and training future pilots.

He also hopes to one day come back to FIU as a recruiter and enlist the future generation of engineers at his alma mater.


Photo Credit: Jorge Cisternas

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