Thursday, March 17, 2022

UTSA Klesse Scholar hopes to change the future of carbon emissions

UTSA Klesse Scholar hopes to change the future of carbon emissions

JANUARY 26, 2022 — San Antonio native and University of Texas at San Antonio student, Elijah Garcia ‘22, is a senior chemical engineering major and Klesse Scholar — receiving an endowed scholarship in chemical engineering that has benefitted 10 top-performing students.

Garcia will graduate in the first class of UTSA students who have become scholars through the Margie and Bill Klesse Endowed Scholarship in Chemical Engineering. The generous scholarship provided by the Klesses allows students to expand their research and academic opportunities, ultimately preparing UTSA’s graduates to go out into the workforce and create positive change in the world.


“My scholarship provides me with the time to place the majority of my focus on my studies and research projects like this that will help further my career.”



Garcia is studying chemical engineering in the Margie and Bill Klesse College of Engineering and Integrated Design. He is now conducting his third semester of undergraduate research in the field of applied catalytic chemistry where he is working under one of his mentors and professors, Gary Jacobs.

The pair also work with Southwest Research Institute, which has partnered with UTSA since 2019 to understand the susceptibility of additively manufactured materials to hydrogen embrittlement— a common problem that can lead to mechanical hardware degrading and losing functionality. Garcia and Jacobs are preparing the catalysts that will be furthered characterized and used in a reactor that SwRI is currently developing.

“It’s amazing that we get to work with organizations like Southwest Research Institute. I never thought I would be able to do something like that as an undergraduate in a young engineering program,” said Garcia. “Though I have a busy schedule, my scholarship provides me with the time to place the majority of my focus on my studies and research projects like this that will help further my career.”

The Margie and Bill Klesse Endowed Scholarship in Chemical Engineering has allowed Garcia to cut back on working outside the classroom to pay for school and hone in on his passion for the field. With more personalized guidance from his professors and mentors, Garcia has found an interest in processes related to the extraction of crude oil. To understand the real-world applications and operating procedures of distillation as it applies to petroleum refinement, he uses the college’s distillation column, which was also funded by the Klesses.

“I am incredibly grateful for this scholarship from Bill and Margie Klesse. It allows me to work more closely with my professors and gives me the opportunity to connect with the deans, associate deans, and outside mentors including Bill himself. This access to additional mentorship has helped enormously in my studies. Having more guidance from professionals in my field has helped me find clarity on what I want to pursue in my future career,” said Garcia.

Garcia ultimately hopes to pursue turning biomass and plants into fuel to lessen carbon emissions in the environment and mitigate off-shore drilling. Garcia was recently accepted into the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering Ph.D. Program at the University of Texas at Austin. Both talented and multifaceted, Garcia also hopes to pursue an additional degree in Music Theory/Composition at UT Austin.

Jordan Allen



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UTSA Today is produced by University Communications and Marketing, the official news source of The University of Texas at San Antonio. Send your feedback to news@utsa.edu. Keep up-to-date on UTSA news by visiting UTSA Today. Connect with UTSA online at Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram.


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