As I sit to write this new missive, it’s the end of Thanksgiving 2019. The pie has been eaten, the dishes have been washed and put away. The well-wishing and words of thanks and encouragement have been exchanged. The family and friends have dispersed. This time, environment, and moment invite reflection and consideration of blessings, gratitude, and joy.
8 years, 7 months, and 28 days ago I was first invited to consider becoming a part of the UPAEP family. 99 days later, it was my honor to accept the final job offer to begin creating change in Mexico through the Graduate Biomedical Engineering graduate programs. From the very first conversation I had with the Program Chair, Dr. Manuel González Pérez, I was completely convinced that these programs were a very special place and represented an opportunity and potential I had not seen anywhere else. When I met the first groups of students in the summer and fall of 2011, I knew unequivocally that my assessment had been correct. With the help of amazing coaching, mentoring, and support, I assumed the role of Program Chair in 2014. By then, the ongoing work of training leaders capable of changing their industries and workplaces was so well established that the transition was painless to a degree I cannot claim to have earned for myself. The tremendous joy and fulfillment on both a personal and professional level this journey have brought is difficult to put into words, and on this day of giving thanks, my cornucopia truly overflows with those bounties.
We have grown, changed, collaborated, internationalized, performed outreach, and generated new science, technology, and thinking. Problems have been solved in creative, innovative, and transformative ways. People have been served, lives have been improved, the world has been made a better place. Throughout, our students have been at the heart of this entire story. I know that I speak from an absolutely biased perspective, but it has been utterly unsurprising that we have been graced with such a great student body. I knew this place and program were special when I was interviewing for a job – I did not expect it to be different when it came to our students. In an informal poll among the student body over a single day, I am tremendously proud to report that among ~75 students over the past 10 years, we have had:
- 3 Cum Laude (Mención Honorífica)
- 2 Cum Laude for Research (Mención Honorífica Por Investigación)
- 6 Magna Cum Laude for Research (Mención Honorífica Por Investigación)
- 6 Summa Cum Laude Prizes (Premio Abelardo)
- 2 Student Achievement Prizes (Cruz Forjada)
- 2 Awards and Fellowships for International Congresses
- 5 Winners of National and State Distinctions/li>
- 1 International Innovation Prize
- 2 State Engineering Prizes
- 1 Utility Model Property Title
- 10 Intellectual Property Applications
- 2 National Research Fellows (SNI)
- Multiple Startup Founders
- Multiple Company Owners
These numbers only begin to scratch the surface of the incredible work done by our amazing students and their faculty advisors. Hopefully, soon we’ll have an even more accurate accounting of all the work done by our incredible students and alumni.
So, as this day of reflection upon our blessings is drawing to a close, I want to say to UPAEP’s entire Biomedical Engineering Community:
On this day in which I reflect on what brings us to a place of gratitude, I send you my thanks.
Thank you for being a group of incredible professionals that I’m proud to call colleagues.
Thank you for the sweat, effort, dedication, and commitment you bring to bear on your opportunity to bring truly transformative solutions to this world.
Thank you for being students who have been willing to give the best of yourselves to this program, never forgetting that your work has living beings as the beneficiaries.
Thank you for being a community that has been worth fighting to maintain, nurture, and grow.
Thank you to the creative, innovative, dedicated, world-class faculty who have been with us all these years and given so much of yourselves to these incredible students.
Thank you all for your patience and understanding in any of my own mistakes, failures, faults, and delays.
Thank you for having built a community within UPAEP of which I can be so proud to be a member.
Addressing the elephant in the room, a year ago, the University decided to sunset its Biomedical Engineering graduate programs and re-focus resources, faculty, and efforts into other areas of opportunity that could also serve the region. With Dr. Gonzalez retiring this summer, and the paperwork filed in the past week for the program chair position to be phased out into a research faculty position, we have come to a somewhat bittersweet transitional moment of moving the support of the Biomedical Engineering programs form a full-time focus to a collaborative effort among the various engineering faculty.
Counterbalancing this news, we received word a few hours ago that one of the major collaborative efforts among the entire engineering faculty has received federal approval to operate as a new engineering program and will begin serving Mexico in innovative and exciting ways very soon. The pride I feel in seeing this truly collaborative effort bring a new dawn of innovation prowess and transformative engineering is hard to overstate. As the upcoming launch of the AzTechSat-1 demonstrates, UPAEP has amazing things to offer Mexico and the region in engineering and innovation. I look forward to seeing the magnificent work that our students and faculty will continue to pour into making Mexico the country we all see when we look through our hope, faith, commitment, and work into that near and far future.
However administrative structures or reporting lines may look, I am left with the infinite satisfaction that our Biomedical Engineering Sciences community will continue to be a major part of UPAEP’s impact in the world. It is my tremendous, unending, unwavering, unflagging honor to stand by you all as we continue to write this next chapter of UPAEP’s success together.
So I say this again because I will never be able to have said it enough: My friends, my colleagues, my mentors, my coaches, my wonderful students…Thank You. We have so much more to do, and I’m grateful we are here to do it together.
Dr. Juan Manuel López Oglesby
Director, Posgrados en Ciencias de la Ingeniería Biomédica