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 student Luis Sotomayor is starting his senior year feeling recharged. He just came back from his annual summer trip to his native Ecuador to visit his extended family.
“It’s literally hundreds of us. Each side of the family gets together and it’s all about having fun, great food, and catching up with everyone,” Sotomayor said. “It’s the best way to refuel before coming back to school.”
The mechanical engineering major was born in the small town of Loja before his parents left everything behind in search of a better life in the United States. Sotomayor was 3 years old when his parents settled in Miami.
“They won the visa lottery and decided to leave their family and their business behind to give me a chance to live the American Dream,” he said.
To make his parents proud, Sotomayor knew from an early age he had to pursue higher education. Becoming the first in his family to go to college is a challenge he was ready to take on. His parents’ dreams for him became the ambition that drives him.
“I’m very aware of their sacrifice and it pushes me every time I feel like not giving my best,” he said.
Sotomayor decided to pursue an engineering degree and had his mind set on the University of Florida. However, that changed when a friend showed him a brochure about Florida Poly, a new university focused exclusively in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). As he researched this new option for his academic future, he said it became the obvious choice.
“I liked that it is small and with very nice resources,” said Sotomayor, who became a freshman at Florida Poly in 2016. “I also liked that it’s a bit secluded. Here I’m able to concentrate in my studies without many distractions.”
On campus, Sotomayor has been able to take on multiple projects and explore different career opportunities. Most recently, he finished a summer internship with L To L Masonry in Dundee, Florida, in which he built a wireless robot designed to smoothen concrete in small areas at construction sites.
“I built the wireless system and the laser control system of the robot,” Sotomayor said. “A robot with laser control system would cost about 80 grand. My job was to replicate it but smaller and less costly.”
His specialized robot was built for under $2,000, a savings of almost 98%.
As he expressed pride on that accomplishment, Sotomayor added that the faculty at Florida Poly has been key to every element of his success thus far.
“The help of the professors here is just incredible,” he said. “When I tell my friends that I just go to my professors’ office and they give me suggestions for jobs and help me with projects they just can’t believe it.
“I never forget how lucky we are to have that resource here.”
Director of Communications