Mateo Garcia

Mateo Garcia

The School of Engineering is #PNWEngineeringProud of Mateo Garcia. He received his BSCmpE in May 2022 and will graduate in December 2023 with his master’s in electrical and computer engineering.

February 2, 2023

Name: Mateo Garcia

Hometown: I am from “the Harbor” side of East Chicago, Indiana

High School: Mount Carmel High School (Chicago), Class of 2018

PNW Degree: Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering, May 2022 and Master of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering, December 2023

Why did you choose your field of study?

Like most kids, I had difficulty deciding what I wanted to do after high school. I always excelled in my coursework when I applied myself, but I was never the biggest fan of school. I had an older cousin by the name of Frankie Garcia (“Pacito”), who had just graduated from Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) around the time I was finishing high school.

That was my first introduction to engineering. I just remember thinking about how cool it is to apply STEM to solve real-world problems, and I would be lying if I said that engineering salaries weren’t especially attractive in 18-year-old-me’s eyes. I was always a fan of technology, and I did well in my math and science classes, so in my mind, it seemed all the more reason to become a computer engineer. Fortunately, that seemingly simple-minded decision is paying off.

Why did you choose PNW?

After deciding to become an engineer, I needed to determine where I would attend college. I knew I wanted to go somewhere that would prepare me for a successful professional career, but I also wanted to avoid the horrors of student loan debt. Ultimately, I chose PNW because it offered a renowned engineering curriculum at an affordable price. I am proud to say that thanks to this decision to attend PNW, I will finish college debt-free.

Studying at PNW has been a great experience. I have met so many wonderful people and learned so much. I am happy I made the decision to attend PNW.

Mateo Garcia, BSCmpE, ‘22, MSECE, '23

What has been your most rewarding academic experience at PNW?

My most rewarding academic experience at PNW has been connecting with international students. I enjoy interacting with people that are different from me, and I have had an abundance of this during my time at PNW.

Any specific classroom projects/learning experiences that have been beneficial?

I have two favorite projects that I worked on during my time as an undergrad: my Senior Design project and a project that I worked on as a student worker at the Center for Innovation through Visualization and Simulation (CIVS). For my Senior Design project, I enjoyed working with my partner (Jacob Tietz) and project advisors (Dr. Quamar Niyaz and Dr. Xiaoli Yang) toward a single goal over the course of two semesters. This was how I imagined real-world engineering projects to be, a collection of high-level efforts applied over an extended period of time.

During my time at CIVS, I was able to work on the NSF-sponsored “DREAM STEM” project, in which I developed a VR Reef Visual Census training tool for the College of the Florida Keys (CFK). It involved weekly meetings, where I would present my work to our collaborators at CFK and receive feedback to make updates to the project. It was my first hands-on experience of what working as an engineer will be like after I finish college, an experience I am very grateful for.

Judges and Participants in the 2022 Three-Minute Thesis Competition at Purdue University Northwest

Congrats to Mateo Garcia (center) for earning second place in the undergraduate category for PNW’s 2022 Three-Minute Thesis competition. From left to right: workshop presenter Erin Protsman, judge Tony Sindone, Garcia, judge Carin Chuang, judge Jean Jiang and Director of Graduate Studies Joy Colwell.

PNW activities/organizations/teams

  • I recently got to participate in a STEM on the Road event at my city’s local high school: East Chicago Central.
  • I have been involved in PNW’s Society of Hispanic Engineers (SHPE) chapter since my freshman year, and currently serve as the graduate chair.
  • I am a member of the R.O.A.R Cyber Club, and I got to participate in the 2022 CyberForce competition.
  • This past summer I served as Dr. Quamar Niyaz’s teaching assistant for the NSF-sponsored InviteCYBER Summer Camp, where I helped educate high school students about cybersecurity.

Faculty and/or staff members who have helped you along your journey at PNW

Quamar Niyaz

Quamar Niyaz, Assistant Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering

I have nothing but good things to say about PNW’s Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) faculty, but there is one faculty member in particular that I would like to give special recognition: Dr. Quamar Niyaz, whom I met during my senior year of undergrad, has mentored me and served as a seemingly endless source of knowledge, and is the reason I am currently pursuing my master’s degree. I would like to thank him for all the time and effort that he has put towards my education.

Awards received at PNW

What are your plans after graduation?

I am very excited to start my professional career after graduation. Computer Engineers have the luxury of being able to work in a variety of fields, so I plan on taking advantage of that and having a diverse career. I recently received a job offer from Cisco, where I will intern as a Security Consulting Engineer at their location in Chicago. As a Security Consulting Engineer, I will be doing penetration testing (“ethical hacking”) on systems provided by clients and inform them of any vulnerabilities that are discovered.

I remember having a mini celebration with Dr. Niyaz after I shared the news right before he started the lecture for his “Big Data” course that I am taking this semester. I was especially happy to receive this offer because Dr. Niyaz told me that Cisco was his “dream company”. He jokingly told me that I will be teaching him after I finish my summer internship.

Fun Fact: Cisco’s Chicago location, which serves as their Midwest region’s headquarters, is Chicago’s Old Main Post Office located on 433 West Van Buren Street.

Final thoughts about your PNW education

Studying at PNW has been a great experience. I have met so many wonderful people and learned so much. I am happy I made the decision to attend PNW.

I would like to thank my friends, family, and especially my parents for always giving me the encouragement I needed to chase my dreams. In addition, I would like to share something I have lived my life by: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

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