After graduating from the LSU College of Engineering in May with a bachelor’s in electrical engineering, Marlou de Guzman received a phone call that resulted in a dream come true.
The 23-year-old was called to Houston for a job interview at MRI Technologies, a small business contractor specializing in various engineering services.
MRI, along with other companies, had been subcontracted to provide support services to the NASA Johnson Space Center’s Engineering Directorate and Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science Directorate.
de Guzman soon found himself in his current role of helping to design the electronics for NASA’s portable life support system, PLSS. It functions as a backpack and provides an astronaut with a livable atmosphere inside his or her space suit.
Not bad for one’s first job out of college.
Although this is his first step into an engineering career, de Guzman is no stranger to having a remarkable life. He was born and raised in Baton Rouge. His parents, who are first-generation Americans, came to the United States because his mother wanted to obtain her PhD in Entomology at LSU.
While minoring in robotic engineering, digital media and Chinese, de Guzman participated in a number of extracurricular activities that tested his time management skills.
“I want to balance it all and I set myself to do it,” de Guzman said. “Whatever I want out of life, I am going to get it.”
He was also a member of LSU’s Distinguished Communicators program, an initiative that provides students the opportunity to refine their communication skills and learn discipline-specific approaches to communication that enable them to excel in their chosen profession.
As a member of the program, de Guzman had the opportunity to meet with Renee Horton before she spoke at LSU’s Spring 2017 Commencement. Horton, an LSU alumna and spacelaunch system lead metallic/weld engineer at the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, immediately connected with de Guzman and his passion for robotics.
That passion shined when his senior design team placed second in the national University Student Design and Applied Solutions Competition. It was the first time the team competed and the experience helped shape him into the person he is today.
As a child, de Guzman dreamed of being an electrical engineer and working in robotics, but the thought of becoming an engineer for NASA felt out of reach.
“I clearly underestimated myself,” Guzman joked.
His advice to someone hesitant of pursing his or her dreams is to be patient.
“Nobody, including myself, thought I would be doing what I am doing now,” de Guzman said.
de Guzman added that developing a passion for robotics and making it evident to everyone around him was the key to his success. In the meantime, he is optimistic for what the future holds.
“This is just one contract,” de Guzman said. “Maybe when this contract is up, I will move onto an actual robotics contract and that I look forward to.”
Raven Nichols, communications intern, LSU College of Engineering