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MAE graduate research assistant receives 2022 HENAAC award

Jose Colon-Rodriquez

Mechanical and aerospace engineering graduate student and graduate research assistant, Jose J. Colon-Rodriguez.

The Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources is proud to congratulate Jose J. Colon-Rodriguez, a mechanical and aerospace engineering graduate student and graduate research assistant from Puerto Rico, for receiving the Most Promising Scientist or Engineer Award from the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Conference (HENAAC).

Story by Tara Heffernan, Multi-Media Specialist
Submitted Photo


As a graduate assistant, Colon-Rodriguez's research focuses on creating reliable power generating systems. His interest in the field came about after experiencing the devastation caused by hurricane Maria in 2017.

“Maria impacted the Caribbean affecting thousands of families, including me and my family. Due to the devastating force of the hurricane and the poor electrical infrastructure, more than 3.4 million people lost power leading to the biggest blackout in history,” said Colon-Rodriguez. “Because of this life changing event, I decided to focus my carrier on Mechanical Engineering which provides me with the necessary skills to design reliable, flexible, and novel power generation systems that could help us avoid a tragedy similar to hurricane Maria.”

The research Colon-Rodriguez contributed to focuses on extending the life of solid oxide fuel cells in a hybrid energy system by as much as 10 times. The initial results of his research showed statistical significance, which led to his nomination for the Most Promising Scientist or Engineer Award.

“This award represents the outcome of all the hard work, hardships and growth on my educational and professional career,” said Colon-Rodriguez. “It is a wonderful reward that reminds me that my efforts are not in vain.”

The HENAAC awards are distributed by Great Minds in STEM (GMiS), an organization that seeks to highlight and honor the achievements of the nation’s best and brightest Hispanic engineers, scientists, mathematicians, computer scientists and technology experts. Over 50 STEM professionals came together in a peer-reviewed selection process to award 23 Great Minds in STEM awards for 2022. These awardees, and everyone considered, were nominated by companies, government agencies, academic institutions and our Nation’s uniformed services.

“Our department is so proud of Jose’s accomplishment and thrilled to see him be recognized on a national stage for his work,” said Jason Gross, interim chair, associate professor and associate chair for research of mechanical and aerospace engineering. “This is a great testament to his promising career, and we are so glad to have students like Jose in our graduate programs."

Honorees will be recognized during the 34th Annual GMiS Conference in October. The conference will be attended by over 3,000 STEM students and professionals and is the premiere event of the organization.

After graduation, Colon-Rodriguez will pursue a career in research and development focused on solving energy challenges.



Contact: Paige Nesbit
Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
304.293.4135, Paige Nesbit

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Phone: 304-293-4135