Editor’s Note: This story is part of a series of feature stories that highlight diversity on Florida Poly’s campus and celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.
Florida Polytechnic University senior Andres Regalado is following in his father’s footsteps, though he’s doing it in his own determined way.
“Dad did a little bit of everything,” Regalado said of his retired father, who moved the family from Guanajuato, Mexico, to Lehigh Acres, Florida when Regalado was 8.
“Everything” included working as a mechanic’s assistant, building ships, and a variety of other hands-on jobs.
“I want to be a jack of all trades, just like my dad,” the mechanical engineering major said. “He and my mother are always putting their best foot forward.”
When Regalado graduated from high school, his father suggested he consider a career in construction. Instead, the first-generation college student chose a path that still allowed him to build and create, but in a much different way.
As lead lab technician in the Rapid Application Development MakerSpace lab, Regalado is heading a team of students building a 3D printer from scratch to add to the lab’s capabilities. Joining him in this effort are lab technician Djuan Gayle, volunteer Matthew Lydon, and interns Michael Webb, Wenheng Lu, and Nikki Burgess.
The new printer will print medium-sized projects without using a much larger printer or scaling down a design. Regalado said the project’s main purpose is to provide an opportunity for his lab’s interns and other students to take on a significant challenge and show them they can do much more than they may think.
“We’re not all going to be the next Elon Musk, but we can be in our own little way,” Regalado said.
The project is also allowing Regalado to use the leadership and collaboration skills he’s gained at Florida Poly.
“Once you know what your limits are, you can do anything,” Regalado said. “You need to know what you’re good at and play to your strengths and get help from people who know more than you for the other things.”
This newfound philosophy has enabled Regalado to embrace new challenges and take risks he once would have shied away from, like building the $600 3D printer.
“I don’t think I’ll always be the smartest person in the room, but I know that when I’m a more mature engineer, I’ll be able to do big things that benefit a lot of people,” Regalado said.
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