Helping Young Engineers Grow

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Alumnus Paul Lara (B.S. ’01) has had a big impact on engineering. As the head of a ship design and build team for the U.S. Navy, Lara has been a mentor and a role model to numerous engineers. “Mentoring new engineers is a great way to help them grow and find their career path,” says Lara, who is pursuing a Ph.D. at UMD focused on the fatigue failure of materials. “Being an engineer includes being in service to others and mentoring them provides that service.”

After completing his bachelor’s degree at UMD, he served 4 years in the Navy, where he now works, but as a civilian. According to Lara, new engineers need autonomy to do things on their own and need to feel empowered to tackle challenges. They also need to be able to help and support others. “There isn’t a class for that, you have to build that,” he says. “As a leader, I try to take care of things for my engineers so they can concentrate on their job and their growth. I like to empower new engineers to do things and have ownership of their tasks and responsibilities.”

Lara expects to defend his dissertation next fall and graduate in December 2019. And there’s more: “He’s a fantastic father to our 12-year old daughter, Olive, and our sweet dog, Jedi,” says his wife, Jen. “He’s also a big Star Wars fan and an avid mountain and road biker.”

Published December 17, 2018