Mauricio Salinas may have launched his career at Raytheon, but his foundation was built at The University of Texas-Pan American where he received his bachelor's in mechanical engineering in 1996. Today, Salinas, a state registered professional engineer, is a principle mechanical engineer in the Thermal Design Group at Raytheon's Network Centric Systems Company in McKinney, Texas.
Even though he no longer resides in the Rio Grande Valley, Salinas always returns to the Edinburg campus to encourage College of Science and Engineering students to pursue graduate degrees as well as share with them his latest research and projects. Salinas is the first UTPA mechanical engineering alumnus to receive a Ph.D. (The University of Texas at Arlington) and master's (Stanford University) in mechanical engineering after graduating from the University program.
Most recently, Salinas, who grew up four blocks away from the University, was invited by the UTPA chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) and other engineering organizations on campus to talk about his engineering ventures with Raytheon, an innovative global technology company specializing in defense, homeland security, government and commercial markets. At Raytheon Salinas' focus is in the thermal design, analysis, and evaluation of electro-optic and airborne radar systems.
Salinas is part of the thermal design group that works extensively with the space and airborne systems (night vision and radars) on manned aircrafts for the military.
When meeting with students Salinas discussed one of his assignments that was to figure out how to keep ice from forming on the protective cover of a radar, known as a radome, on the V-22 Osprey, a terrain tracking, tiltrotor aircraft developed for multi-service combat operational requirements. Salinas' anti-ice radome design, which took three years to develop, was tested using two different heat application methods - heated air that re-circulated between the inner/outer radome shell and a heated wire approach that used a nichrome wire within the shell. After years of testing his design, Salinas found the heated wire approach worked best in tackling the problem, which now keeps ice from building on the radome 100 percent of the time.
To add to his stellar résumé Salinas, who is one of 40,000 engineers employed at Raytheon and one of more than 25 UTPA alumni working in the McKinney facility, has written for 12 technical publications and has presented extensively in his field, and he currently has one U.S. patent pending.
Why is it important for you to return to UTPA and share your story?
I enjoy coming back and encouraging students to get their graduate degrees and just giving them examples of what they can do in the field. It is a pleasure for me to do this and I will continue to do it. It is always great to be back in the Valley. Really, I just want to encourage students here to stay in school because I know mechanical engineering is a really tough degree. It took me five tough years to earn my bachelor's, one year at Stanford for my master's, and five years working toward a Ph.D. I just want to give them the motivation to keep going because at the end there will be some reward for them. For those who want to work in the area of thermal analysis I would definitely recommend getting a Ph.D. or at least a master's.
Tell us about your pending U.S. patent?
It came about when I was working on my Ph.D. dissertation and it deals with a two-phase heat transfer. It is actually a cooling method for cooling high heat source electronics.
What did you enjoy most about your time at UTPA?
When I was here the classes I enjoyed the most were in thermal sciences and that is what I do today, I solve heat transfer problems.
While at UTPA you completed four internships with NASA, how important is it for UTPA students to participate in internships?
I did four internships at the NASA Lewis Research Center, now the John H. Glenn Research Center, as an undergraduate. I believe internships are very important because they expose you to the kind of work that goes on in your field of study and might also help you discover whether you like or dislike the work. Internships can really point you in the right direction.
To learn more about the UTPA Department of Mechanical Engineering, visit http://www.mece.utpa.edu/.