Sebastian Cisneros is an undergraduate student in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. He is also the president of the UB chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), which was founded in 1973 and is the nation’s largest association dedicated to fostering Hispanic leadership in STEM. At UB, the club coordinates MentorSHPE, an undergraduate mentoring program.
Where are you from?
I am from Jackson Heights in Queens, New York.
Why did you choose to go into engineering?
Since I was little I was interested in how machines and computers worked. That interest developed over time, but I would say that learning about robotics in my high school really solidified my decision to go into engineering.
What do you like most about engineering at UB?
I like that there are many opportunities to improve your skills and work on projects. Participating in BattleBots and hackathons were very rewarding experiences for me.
Tell us about your involvement in the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE).
I initially got involved with SHPE because my older relative was in SHPE and told me I should check it out. It was nice to be around others who shared similar interests with me, and came from a similar culture as well. What motivated me to become president was the ability to help others, just like previous members helped me.
What's your favorite part of being in SHPE?
My favorite part about SHPE is the amount of career opportunities that come with being involved with the club. It’s always an exciting moment when a member receives an internship or full-time job offer after all their hard work.
Is there anything new or particularly exciting that your organization is working on?
At the moment we have been talking about the possibility of working on a BattleBot. This bot would be for our own learning experience, and not necessarily for use in the UB BattleBot competition.
What are you working on righrt now?
Currently I am trying to learn a bit more about front end development in order to work on a few personal projects with my peers.
What are you passionate about?
Since working with robots in high school, I’ve had an interest in robotics and artificial intelligence. However, outside of school work I’ve always been passionate about skateboarding.
Has there been a particular faculty or staff member that has been formative during your time at UB?
There have been a few moments when certain professors have said something that has really stuck with me. One such moment that comes to mind is when Professor Ethan Blanton took a moment to talk to us about how imposter syndrome can affect anyone, and we are all capable of being successful.
What are your future plans?
Ideally, I want land a full-time offer that lets me work right after graduation. I want to be able to support my parents so they can finally rest after all the hard work they’ve done to get me where I am now.
What is your advice for prospective students?
My advice to prospective students would be to try and not fall into the trap of not needing to study because your first semester or two are easy. Aside from that I think it’s important to try and get involved with clubs that interest you at UB, as they could one day lead to career opportunities.
Learn more about UB's chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) here.
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