As the University counts down to Commencement, UConn Today is featuring some of this year’s outstanding graduating students, nominated by their academic school or college or another University program in which they participated. For additional profiles of students in the Class of 2012, click here.
Alexander Velázquez’s passion for engineering first manifested itself when he was only 5 years old. “I told my parents I wanted to be an inventor,” he says. “I’ve always been very technically-inclined.”
Velázquez, who is graduating in May from UConn’s EuroTech program with a dual degree in computer science and engineering and German studies and a minor in mathematics, is fulfilling that childhood dream at an international level. During a four-month internship in Stuttgart, Germany in summer 2011, Velázquez contributed new code to the driving simulator, extending the traffic module that generates computer-controlled cars. His code incorporates pedestrian traffic into a virtual driving environment and helps emulate a real-life driving experience to further research in driver assistance systems. He developed this code at the High Performance Computing Center in Stuttgart, and it was also installed at Porsche AG.
Velázquez is the winner of the Department of Career Services’ Intern of the Year Award given to outstanding interns. Friedemann Weidauer, associate professor of German in the Department of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages, nominated Alex for the award. “It is truly unique for students at this stage to be able to integrate their professional knowledge and skills with work that benefits their community, and Alexander has successfully done so more than once,” he says.
A graduate of Hamden High School, Velázquez entered UConn as an honors student and a recipient of the Leadership Scholarship. He knew that UConn was a good option to pursue his undergraduate career in engineering. “As I got older, I became really interested in computers,” says Velázquez, “and when the time came for me to begin my college search, I was looking for good computer science engineering programs and UConn was very high on this list.”
Velázquez has also been active in community outreach, as a member of the Boy Scouts of America for the past 15 years and an apprentice, designer, and summer camp counselor at the Eli Whitney Museum in Hamden, Conn. since 2001. “That experience definitely fostered my creative and technical sides” he says.
Velázquez belongs to the Upsilon Pi Epsilon and Tau Beta Pi honor societies and was an active member of UConn’s Ultimate Frisbee Team before leaving for Germany. He has maintained a 3.9 GPA and has made the Dean’s List every semester since coming to UConn.
He is currently going through the interview process with potential employers, and hopes to begin working in software engineering by mid-summer. He has narrowed his choices down to Inncom in Niantic, Conn., Savant Systems in Cape Cod, Mass., or ITT Exelis in Washington, D.C.
As he prepares to move on to the next stage of his career, Velázquez is glad he made the decision to come to UConn. “I think I made the perfect choice. I love the sense of community here,” he says. “It’s never let me down.”