When Andrés Robles Sotomayor left his hometown of San Juan, Puerto Rico, to come to Hinesville, Georgia, he brought with him the determination to become an engineer. As he evaluated his college options and arrived at aerospace engineering for his career choice, Georgia Tech quickly became a top contender.
“It was one of the few universities that had an aerospace engineering program, and it was very prestigious and close to my interests,” said Robles Sotomayor. “Though, that wasn’t the only reason it was my top choice — it was also in-state, so I could stay closer to my mother.”
Receiving a Promise
Robles Sotomayor applied for admission and was accepted. However, as the son of a single mother working hard to make ends meet, he wasn’t sure what covering the cost of college would look like.
“I got in, and then my mom asked how we were going to pay for it,” he said. “And I told her ‘Well, that’s a good question. I don’t know, but I guess I’ll figure it out.’”
The solution Robles Sotomayor considered was joining the military to serve his country and support his career aspirations. The opportunity to receive pilot training drew him to consider joining the Air Force, but he knew it would mean dedicating a decade away from his mother, which Robles Sotomayor acknowledged would have been difficult.
But then he received the notification that he’d been selected for the G. Wayne Clough Georgia Tech Promise Program, a scholarship that makes it possible for qualifying low-income, in-state students to earn a degree at Tech debt
–free. The offer came as a huge relief, especially to Robles Sotomayor’s mother, who was hesitant to see her son join the military.
“My mom went berserk,” recalled Robles Sotomayor on telling his mother about the scholarship offer.
Robles Sotomayor still plans to serve his country, but he’s happy for the opportunity to pursue his education first. Ultimately, he hopes to work in the defense industry in aerodynamics or as a flight test pilot.
Time at Tech
Since coming to Tech, Robles Sotomayor has affirmed his interest in all things aerospace engineering: He is involved with Design Build Fly, a competitive aircraft design team, as well as the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE). He’s also expanded his interests to include hobbies like photography, a pursuit he fell into accidentally when SHPE needed a photographer last year. Now he’s the lead photographer for the group.
Robles Sotomayor was able to go to the National Convention for the Society of Hispanic Engineers through his work with SHPE, and secured a summer internship with Northrop Grumman, a defense and technology company. He spent the summer on-site in West Virginia, where he served as a technical intern for their Missile and Rocket Propulsion Division.
He plans to return to the convention this year, funded by Tech Promise. Now that he has manufacturing experience from Northrop Grumman, he’s excited to find an opportunity that moves him closer to his goal of aerodynamics.
Robles Sotomayor is thankful for the advantages Tech Promise has provided for him, especially when it comes to having the chance to focus solely on his education and enjoy just being a student at Tech.
“Tech Promise is a program that has helped me, and a lot of other lower-income students, have the opportunity to be here,” said Robles Sotomayor. “Students in this program have worked incredibly hard to get here, and they’ve earned a spot at a prestigious institution like Georgia Tech — without the worry of how to pay for it.”