First-Generation ENMU EET Greyhound Grad Works on Cutting-Edge Technology at Sandia National Laboratories

Roberto Jimenez
Roberto Jimenez

First-Generation ENMU EET Greyhound Grad Works on Cutting-Edge Technology at Sandia National Laboratories

Roberto Jimenez is using the Bachelor of Science in Electronics Engineering he earned at Eastern New Mexico University in 2012 in his prestigious role as principle electronics technologist at the acclaimed Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The Greyhound Grad, who also holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from ENMU and an Associate of Applied Science in Automotive Technology from Clovis Community College (CCC), shares how Eastern prepared him to make a difference in the world through the field of EET.

roberto jimenez with mother
Roberto with his mother.

Tell us about your job and what inspired you to work in that role.

I am a principle electronics technologist, and I work for Sandia National Laboratories. The opportunity to be able to use all of my degrees in one job really got my attention. I have been told many times that I am irreplaceable! Not only that but being able to work alongside brilliant individuals from around the world has been both rewarding and exciting.

What inspired me the most is to work with new cutting-edge technology that can one day revolutionize the way we do things in the future; after all, who wouldn't want to work at the same place where Albert Einstein left his legacy for those after him to expand on his efforts?

Which aspect of your career is the most rewarding?

Being able to work on a project and be involved in the entire life cycle of the project has been the most rewarding experience for me. To see an idea in the beginning stages and working through the details to get the idea developed into a fully functional product is a reward in itself.

Working in a research and development environment such as Sandia National Laboratories has definitely challenged me mentally and given me plenty of opportunities to grow in my knowledge and understanding of electronics.

What are your career goals?

My short-term goal is to continue my education and get my master's degree in electrical engineering and eventually continue my career as an electrical engineer.

Where did you work previously?

I worked as a flight simulator technician for Lockheed Martin. I was a teacher's assistant to both my EET professors and ENMU.

I also worked at both McDonald's and Burger King. I even worked hoeing fields with my family around Portales, New Mexico, in order to buy my clothes and shoes for school.

Tell us about your family and background.

I was a first-generation college student. Both of my parents did not get past a middle school education. I am the youngest of six siblings; there are four girls and two boys.

Both of my parents did not speak English, including myself, when I started elementary school. I quickly picked up English while in elementary and English soon became my dominant language.

I was born in Belen, New Mexico, and raised in Portales. I grew up in poverty in a small home full of family members that loved one another and where it never felt like we lacked anything as long as we had each other.

Due to my parents' work ethic and dedication, all six of us grew up learning how to do many tasks around the house, such as laying tile, doing household repairs, construction, automotive repairs, plumbing, cooking, cleaning, making tortillas, etc. The list can go on for a while.

Being raised this way taught me a lot about life and how difficult life can be without a solid education. At a very young age, I was determined to make America's Dream a reality for myself. I ended up graduating class valedictorian from my high school and received lots of scholarships and awards. I began my college career at ENMU and worked at Burger King and McDonald's while receiving my college education.

My mother was a custodian for ENMU while I was attending. I remember many times being in the lab, and she would walk in quietly and would clean the whiteboards and throw out the trash. It was always a pleasure to see her working at ENMU, and getting to have dinner with the one person I love with all my heart every day for her lunch break was an experience I wouldn't mind reliving.

The hardest part during my college years was trying to balance two jobs and attend ENMU full time, but by God's good grace, I was able to push through and come out of college with three degrees and an excellent career ahead of me.

I now reside in Albuquerque but still miss my parents' home in Portales. I'm always looking forward to the opportunity to just sneak back to my humble beginnings and spend time with my loving family and all my friends who so wonderfully supported me over the years.

Why did you choose to attend ENMU?

I chose ENMU for several reasons. The most important reason was because of its unique Electronics Engineering Technology Program. The program is very diverse and offers its graduating students a very versatile background in the many different areas of electronics.

Another reason why I chose ENMU is that it's located in my hometown and allowed me to get a very solid education and still not be far from home.

How did you choose your field of study?

I chose my field of study while attending CCC and began to study the electronic aspects within a vehicle. The small exposure I had to electronics within the Automotive Program at CCC was enough to spark an interest into electronics for me to decide to attend ENMU's Electronics Engineering Technology Program to further increase my knowledge and understanding of electronic circuitry. 

roberto jimenez selfie

Which activities were you involved in at Eastern?

I had work-study available to me while I attended ENMU and worked at the University's gym and also as a teacher's assistant to Dr. Hamid Allamehzadeh and Dr. Mohammad Ahmadian. I was also on the dean's list serval times while attending ENMU.

One thing that I really enjoyed while attending ENMU was working on projects throughout the years that I was at Eastern through a program hosted by the Western Alliance to Expand Student Opportunities (WAESO).

I was completely dedicated and committed. I think I spent more of my free time at the University's lab than anywhere else. I would spend evenings and weekends at the University working on these projects.

I also worked on a magnetic levitation project the entire time I attended ENMU. I finally got a magnetic ball to levitate using control theory which is a class taught at ENMU. The project was presented in Washington, D.C., and won national recognition with a first-place prize honor.

I'm really happy to have been part of all the projects I worked on over the years there and loved spending time putting everything I learned from my classes into practice.

Tell us about your experience at ENMU.

My favorite professors were, hands down, Dr. Hamid Allamehzadeh and Dr. Mohammad Ahmadian from the Electronics Engineering Technology Program. I really enjoyed all the classes that they taught.

Each class was unique in its own way to challenge the student and have the student think outside the box. The best class out of all of them has got to be the Capstone course. I really got to put into practice all the theories that I learned over my years there and implement them in my Capstone project.

The most memorable activities definitely had to be the time spent on the many WAESO projects I worked on throughout the years at ENMU. We worked on a solar panel that would track the sun as it moved throughout the day, the ball and beam project, wind turbine control theory, and last but not least, the magnetic levitation project, which you can see in action on YouTube.

How did ENMU prepare you for your career?

The EET Program provided me with all the education that I needed in order to perform my everyday duties in my career.

The theories and principles taught in the classroom prepared me as well to be able to troubleshoot, analyze and interpret schematics. Without these theories and principles taught at ENMU, it would be very difficult to do my day-to-day responsibilities.

I think I speak for many past graduates when I say that ENMU has an excellent EET Program due to Dr. Hamid Allamehzadeh's passion for teaching and desire to see students succeed in their careers after college. It's because of Dr. Allamehzadeh's teaching that I'm 100% sure many other students have graduated and have created a successful career just like myself.

If there is one quote that I believe reflects Dr. Allamehzadeh's mentality and passion for teaching every student he has taught in the past I believe it has to be this: "The teacher has not taught until the student has learned." - Howard G. Hendricks.

What advice would you give to a student interested in working in your career field?

The advice that I would give a student is: Learn as much as you can while in school. Absorb all the knowledge you can, like a sponge absorbs water. Everything taught is for your own benefit. It will prepare you for the opportunity to go out and be very marketable and compete with other students graduating from other universities. 

Above all, be open-minded, ready to learn, possibly fail along the way but get back up… chin up and push forward to become a great leader in your career field.

"The measure of you as a leader is not what you do, but what others do because of what you do." - Howard G. Hendricks

Are you involved with any organizations or causes?

I do biblical discipleship for Calvary Albuquerque, which allows me to help mentor people of all ages who are currently going through difficulties in their personal lives. This also allows me to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Who is your role model?

My role model is Jesus Christ. There's nobody else in this world that I put my trust in like the way I do with Him. My life has had many ups and downs, and I believe there are more downs than ups; however, regardless of the circumstance, I can always rely on Him to be there for me no matter what.

There are so many aspects of His character that I cannot express in words how perfect of a role model He is to me. His ability to demonstrate his character first and then teach me about how I should conduct myself according to His teaching is breathtaking.

For every situation in my life, He has set standards and principles upon which I should live by in order to live a good quality life.

The best way to explain my role model is by using an example. Everyone knows that gravity has never been seen or heard physically or audibly, but we have all felt the effect of gravity when we simply trip and fall. It's quite painful, as we all know. I myself have not seen Jesus with my own two eyes or heard Jesus's voice with my own two ears. But I have felt and seen the effects he has had in my life since I met Him and established a personal relationship with Him.

I have felt his joy and grace for me when I execute His standards and principles in my life, but I have also felt his sadness, discipline and distance from me when I refuse to not follow His commandments, and most importantly, I have felt His Love for me when He died upon a cross for me to give me my salvation and my eternal life.

Nobody will ever take his place as my one and only true role model.

Tell us about your accomplishments and awards.

I have had lots of accomplishments and awards in my schooling, whether it was in middle school, junior high, high school, college or my job. I'm thankful for all of them and thank each and every person that took the time and effort to recognize me for them.

roberto jimenez fishing

What are your hobbies?

Some of my hobbies include fishing, playing basketball, playing golf, playing board games, spending time with family, drawing, photography, reading anything and everything and, most importantly, teaching the Bible.

Share some interesting facts about yourself.

Every year the state of New Mexico selects one senior high school athlete to receive a sportsmanship award for playing sports and demonstrating the principles of true sportsmanship. In my senior year of high school, I was selected as the person that received that award.

I was on the front page of the local newspaper at the end of my fourth-grade year for having read over 175 books from the school library. The program at the time was called "Book it." I ate lots of personalized pizzas from Pizza Hut for every book I read that year. I guess that makes me a real book worm; at least, that's what the title of the article in the newspaper said.

I had a chapter in a book written about my life by my third-grade teacher, Joan Clayton of the Portales News Tribune, where she talked about my upbringing in poverty and my success all the way into college.

Is there any additional information you would like to share?

I would just like to thank all of my family, friends, teachers and, most importantly, Jesus Christ for giving me the patience, strength and, above all, courage on my journey to take on the challenge of pursuing a career that in and of itself has had a major impact in my life and I look forward to my growth in Christ. God Bless every single one of you that took the time to read this article.

roberto jimenez e n m u sign photo