Student Spotlight: Juan Tovar, an Engineer in the Making

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ISyE undergraduate Juan Tovar has known at a young age that he wanted to become an engineer. He cites his parents as his main influencers, as they saw that as a child, Juan not only loved playing with Legos and other creative toys but science and math were his strong subjects. Hence, they stirred the idea that he should be an engineer ever since he was in elementary school.

As he went through high school, Juan participated in the engineering club and practiced thinking outside the box. He enjoyed creating something out of nothing and solving problems. “I fell in love with working with such a blank canvas for creativity and innovation, and I felt that as an engineer I could do that again,” says Juan.

Now a sophomore in ISyE, Juan is interning this summer as a manufacturing operations intern with Eaton.

Out of all the fields you could have chosen in engineering, why did you choose industrial engineering?

I went to a summer program at Duke University where we were tasked with creating an "Innovation" for a future scenario. As much as I felt like I liked the idea of working on the prototype and the idea of our device, what I truly enjoyed was the logistics of how it would work, what the business model would be and so on. I was accepted to Tech as a civil engineer but after learning more about industrial engineering, I felt that it was the best suit for me and switched majors even before my first semester. I love the fact that IE is a broad field and that I could apply my thought process across a variety of careers.


I understand you are focusing your studies on operations research. What is it that draws you to this concentration?

I feel that operations research gives me the opportunity to further develop my technical skills that the other tracks might not. As a proud industrial engineer, I want to be as comfortable as possible with the technical aspect of my career as much as the soft skills. Combining an operations research concentration with the depth and breadth of the courses will allow me to do that.

You obviously love sports. You play every intramural sport including basketball, volleyball, flag football and kickball. How do you balance your academic and free time to accommodate so many sporting activities? How does sports help in your academic studies?

Having an intramural game about every day forces me to schedule my time effectively. I know I cannot leave my assignments for later because my evenings are occupied with something else. So rather than taking away time from my schedule I would say it further forces me to dedicate time to the right things. It's also the best stress reliever. I wouldn't be as calm as I am were it not for the relief which participating in these sports brings me. College is tough, and I feel we need time for ourselves in order to avoid it from entirely consuming us.

Tell me about your involvement with the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE)?

When I first came to visit Georgia Tech, I was received by the Hispanic community on campus; all of them involved with SHPE. They were the big reason I decided to enroll here and thus I knew I wanted to be involved since day one. During my first year, I was freshman liaison where my job was to integrate the freshmen into everything SHPE did. I later joined the Eboard this year as SHPE Jr. Coordinator where I was in charge of the community outreach of our chapter into local high schools and primary school. Moving forward, next year I will continue in the Eboard as External VP; being in charge of the corporate relations of the organization. 

Saying I am passionate about SHPE would be a huge understatement. I continue to push for SHPE to grow in its impact to the Hispanic community and the rest of campus. 

What accomplishment are you most proud of since you’ve been at ISyE?

Many of my highlights of GT have come from intramurals. Winning four championships this year has been amazing but just being able to share those moments with my best friends is what really makes it a great accomplishment. 

Tell us something few people know about you that you are willing to share.

I dream of one day being the owner of the Miami Dolphins. 



  • Workflow Status:Published
  • Created By:Lizzie Millman
  • Created:05/06/2015
  • Modified By:Fletcher Moore
  • Modified:10/07/2016