Why I love problem solving and teamwork - Braulio Reyes

I was a little embarrassed at first to not start off at a four-year university like many of my friends in high school, but I can honestly say it paid off both financially and academically. I started off my academic journey out of high school at San Antonio Community College (SAC) where I studied general engineering from 2012-2014. I choose to start at a community college to both save money and because I wanted to take advantage of smaller class sizes. During my time at the community college I was introduced to the idea that pre-professional experiences like internships, academic research, and student organization would be valuable for my career long-term. Once I realized this, gaining as much experience as I could became a major priority for me.

During my second semester I became chapter president of a student organization on campus and then was able to gain a co-op during the third semester at NASA: Johnson Space center. This internship opened my eyes to what it was like to work on a high performing team that had a vision bigger than themselves. After, SAC I transferred to The University of Texas at El Paso where I pursued Industrial and Systems Engineering from 2014-2018. During this time, I continued to seek opportunities by continuing to be involved in student organizations in various leadership roles, and pursued academic research opportunities in additive manufacturing and material characterization. In addition, I also began internships at United Technologies and Lockheed Martin where I gained even more hands-on experiences.

"This internship opened my eyes to what it was like to work on a high performing team that had a vision bigger than themselves".

Such experiences through the years have helped me tremendously. Currently, I am part of Caterpillar Inc. Leadership and Technical Development Program (LTDP) Operations Leadership Track. Since beginning my career at Caterpillar I’ve quickly learned that the advice and skills my mentors emphasized were incredibly valuable. For example, I learned that pursuing a technical degree is the key to open doors, but once you get past that door your soft skills are what keep you moving forward. Pre-professional experience like being involved in student organizations taught me how to work with people and work through difficult or frustrating situations. Soft skills can help you gain valuable skills that will help you succeed as a technical professional. After all we are still working alongside other people and within dynamic teams.

"Pre-professional experience like being involved in student organizations taught me how to work with people and work through difficult or frustrating situations. Soft skills can help you gain valuable skills that will help you succeed as a technical professional".

You can have the most brilliant idea in the world, but if you cannot communicate it to a team then it will not matter because it won’t happen. The ultimate goal is to execute an idea, but much planning, organization, and ongoing updates are necessary for desired results. This is why soft skills are an important element to all styles of leadership. I strongly believe that soft skills give you the opportunity to show others your capabilities. Projects run smoothly because team members understand their roles and responsibilities. Such skills provide a sense of competence and opportunities to make the most out of your potential as a growing or experienced professional.

"You can have the most brilliant idea in the world, but if you cannot communicate it to a team then it will not matter because it won’t happen. The ultimate goal is to execute an idea, but much planning, organization, and ongoing updates are necessary for desired results".

Personally, seeing the value of soft skills is a passion of mine. It has led me to help others develop and further enhance their skills. For some reason, such important skills are not discussed often enough. Because of this I am often involved with doing presentations about soft skills to college students through organization like The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), through their regional, and national programs. Additionally, over the past year I’ve utilized social media like Instagram, LinkedIn, twitter, and TikTok to publish content related to professional development with a focus on soft skills. The cumulation of all of this though has been starting my own podcast called “The Braulio Reyes Podcast” where we discuss topics I’ve learned through experiences or have guests that share their own life experiences as STEM professionals. Personally, it’s been very rewarding for me to hear stories from incredibly young professionals who have a lot of great insights and tips on what they’ve learned along the way.

Personally, seeing the value of soft skills is a passion of mine. It has led me to help others develop and further enhance their skills. For some reason, such important skills are not discussed often enough.

Something I am passionate about is wanting to help others in the Latino/Hispanic community. The best way I’ve been able to do this is through community outreach and engaging with The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE). As a professional it’s given me the best gift, which is an organization that aligns with my values. My goal is to pay it forward by sharing my knowledge and experience with my community. Such outreach brings so much meaning to my life because it gives me the opportunity to help others like I was helped along the way. The most impactful voices that gave me advice and feedback weren’t 30+ year engineers but often people a few years ahead of me that could relate to me and understand my perspective. Always remember, it’s never too early to give back!