By Allison McLellan
Why study materials science and engineering? According to senior Jorge Paz-Soldan, “Materials explain many aspects of nature and life; to me, it is the study of existence.”
Majoring in both MSE and biomedical engineering, Jorge currently divides his time among three labs. For his senior design project, he studies the hydroxyapatite coating and titanium alloys in order to discover how to quantitatively measure the adhesion force between the coating and substrate. In the laboratory of Dr. Yu Lei, Castleman Distinguished Associate Professor in both chemical and biomolecular engineering, Jorge works at implementing copper chloride as a colorimetric humidity sensor. Jorge also collaborates under the guidance of Dr. Rainer Hebert, Associate Professor in MSE and in the Institute of Materials Science, Director of Additive Manufacturing Innovation Center, and the Director for Undergraduate Studies. In Dr. Hebert’s research lab, Jorge assists in studying metallography by examining powder flow for various companies, studying images, and additionally has helped test out the professor’s newly developed humidity glove box.
Amidst this heavy course load, Jorge manages to find ways to stay active around campus. In the five years he has spent at UConn, he has held multiple roles in UConn’s Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), including freshman representative, treasurer, and senior advisor. In addition, he has helped organize outreach projects promoting involvement in STEM related fields to the children at Windham High School. He has continued mentoring students through Engineering Your Future (EYF), an organization that brings together eighth grade boys from all over Connecticut for STEM promotional activities in order to increase diversity in the field. His volunteer work expands into his contributions to the Northeast Regional Science Bowl.
To work so hard at shaping young minds, Jorge takes after those that have long inspired him. From a child, he was mesmerized by Bruce Lee’s raw determination and energy, which also can describe Jorge’s own motivation. As he became more scientifically involved over the years, he recognized his parents’ huge efforts and time put into supporting his educational pursuits, endorsing his academic accomplishments. In the realm of academic heroes, Jorge looks up to those such as the American astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, and science communicator Neil Degrasse Tyson, the English ethologist, evolutionary biologist and writer Richard Dawkins, and world-renown English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author, and researcher Stephen Hawking.
Jorge says, “From them, I realized how important it is to be scientifically literate and to spread your passion for science. It is a large portion of life that should not be ignored in the population. [Their] infectious and charismatic personalities have driven me to actively show people why I love doing what I do, and the interesting things that come of it.”
For now, Jorge is dedicated to furthering his education in materials science and refining his research tools; his main goal is to make a difference in his field, as well as society’s understanding of it. After graduating in May, he looks forward to the adventures in his next endeavor; his acceptance of a research position at Pennsylvania State University while in pursuit of his Ph.D.