He hails from Socorro, New Mexico, and comes from a family passionate about the educational system. His parents encouraged an early interest in science. Zach also had a love for football and community service, and a dream of going to college.
“I was a member of New Mexico MESA (Mathematics, Engineering, and Science Achievement) in junior high and high school, so I was always motivated to go to college.” As if his life wasn’t busy enough, Zach also played high school football (quarterback and free safety) and was getting dual credits in math at New Mexico Tech and working there as an event and conference technician.
He came to UNM as an engineering major and walk-on kicker for the Lobos. However, the demanding engineering curriculum and the need to find a job focused his efforts on academics. He saw the STC link on the UNM website (“not easy to find,” he says) and applied for an internship.
“Undergrads see the academic side of science,” he explains. “It’s research oriented and not as applied. I really think there should be more of the inventor/ entrepreneur/business training early on in the engineering curriculum. I knew a job at STC would give me another point of view and insight into real-world applications of the science. I try to spread the word to my peers about the STC internship program.”
Having spent two years at STC, Zach has gained some valuable experience. He’s done lots of novelty searches (the process of finding out if somebody else has already patented your idea). “Knowing the basic science behind the technologies I was researching helped me understand the concepts and spot the prior art,” he said. “I also worked on NCS’s (non-confidential technology summaries) which were fun but hard. We used these in marketing campaigns. I learned so much about industry markets and leaders and emerging companies.”
Zach says STC helped him to decide what he wants to do next. He would now like to work in a research lab as a research assistant in his senior year to get some hands-on experience before entering a master degree program in environmental engineering. And he wants to also work in industry to gain experience. His ultimate goal? To team up with a friend who is a civil engineering major and start his own engineering firm someday, specializing in environmental purification and remediation. His experiences at STC and UNM have given him an excellent head start.