Spring 2013 Background

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College of Engineering at The University of Texas at San Antonio Online Magazine

Faster. Smarter. Stronger.

Faster. Smarter. Stronger.

Paul Martinez, the new face of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), is shattering the mold of what it means to be an engineer.

It’s not unusual for people to think engineers spend all their time solving complicated equations, reading obscure books on thermodynamics, or playing video games. You know, they’re nerds. But be careful with assumptions like that around Paul Martinez, unless you want a roundhouse kick to the face.

Actually Martinez, an engineering student who practices mixed martial arts (MMA), is pretty laid back and hardly ever kicks anyone in the face. He’s soft-spoken, always willing to help out, and generally easygoing. He just happens to be equally capable of putting an opponent in an arm bar as he is of solving an integral.

“A fight is just a test of wills at some point, and whoever can establish their dominance on the mat is the victor.”

Born and raised in Houston, Martinez was a scholarship student at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory School. That’s where he developed the solid foundation of learning he’s now building on as an engineer. Martinez isn’t just about the classroom though. He wrestled, played football, and threw discus. If that wasn’t enough to keep him busy, he also played rugby with the Houston Area Rugby Club college team, and was selected to play with The United States U-17 Eagles, a national rugby team.

After high school, Martinez set his sights on college. Originally interested in developing algae-based biofuels to improve overall green technology, Martinez quickly realized he was looking for a more hands-on experience.

“Although environmental science is a fundamental part in the movement toward a more sustainable world, the impact on the modern world I was looking for could only be achieved through engineering,” Martinez explained. “As an engineer, I felt like I could use all the science I have been learning up to now and apply it to a current, real-life problem.”

Martinez, a member of the first generation in his family to go to college, is in his third year in the UTSA civil engineering program. He was recently named one of the 2013 New Faces of Civil Engineering-College Edition by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and is one of only 10 college students across the nation to receive this recognition.

He was selected from a field of talented college students nationwide whose academic and extracurricular achievements demonstrate their promise as future engineers and leaders in their profession.

“To be recognized by ASCE as a future leader in engineering is an honor almost beyond belief for me,” said Martinez. “I credit my hard work ethic to my parents. Engineering, just like sports, requires perseverance and a never-give-up mentality.”

Becoming the face of ASCE is no easy feat. To achieve that level of recognition in engineering requires both dedication and determination, things Martinez takes with him every time he goes to the mat against an opponent. For Martinez, engineering and MMA are two sides of the same coin. They require similar characteristics in order to succeed and where one hones the mind, the other hones the body.

“For me, MMA and engineering are similar because they take the same gritty determination to win, but are just applied differently. Both require thinking, but thinking when you are completely exhausted is a little different than thinking when your grades are at stake. The mentality of being cool, calm and collected when in the most intense of fights has allowed me to develop into a student who does not panic when put under stress. Instead, I react by analyzing the situation and coming up with a plan to win,” Martinez said.

As he began studying engineering at UTSA, he felt something was missing. Martinez had been physically active in high school and now much of his life was spent learning complex equations. He needed an outlet, something to push his competitive instincts. It seemed only natural for him to turn to MMA.

“I had to channel that need for competition to prove to myself I was still capable of winning, and I found a home in mixed martial arts. I really liked the aspect of the ‘one on one’ competition. A fight is just a test of wills at some point, and whoever can establish their dominance on the mat is the victor,” Martinez said.

Whether he is succeeding in class or on the mat, Martinez has the will to keep going. So the next time you think an engineer is just a nerd fixing the problems of the world, remember that Martinez is out there, looking for his next challenger.

Current Issue: Spring 2013 | Table of Contents