Student Profile - Isaac Alvarez

Engineering co-op opportunity inspires

Isaac AlvarezIt’s a college student’s dream to work with one of the nation’s largest companies after only a year of studies— But for Isaac Alvarez, a 19-year-old from Keller, Texas, it’s a reality.

“One of the main reasons I came to Lamar is that it has great relationships with the petrochemical industry. They’ve already helped set up (a Co-op with)  ExxonMobil, which is really excellent,” he said.

Alvarez, a chemical engineering major, was selected last spring as a freshman to co-op with ExxonMobil for the fall 2016 semester. Invited to apply after earning top scores in calculus, Alvarez underwent two rounds of interviews and was chosen as the sole hire from a group of 14 candidates. He will resume studies as a sophomore during the spring 2017 semester.

“I don’t think that with a lot of other universities you can distinguish yourself the way you can here. It was really amazing to get an interview in my first year with a top company,” said Alvarez.

When Alvarez learned he would co-op with ExxonMobil, he didn’t suspect that he would be given such a significant role. He is currently working on a number of projects that require him to explore areas of the plant that need improvement and initiate contracts with outside companies.

In one project, Alvarez will map out the coordinates of more than 7,000 steam traps at the facility then add them to a program that an outsourced company will use for tracking and maintenance. 

In another project, Alvarez will find a company who has an effective chemical product to clean the plant’s enormous “fin fans.” He will take candidates to the site to explain company needs and get estimates. Then, he will research other factors such as environmental compatibility before making his decision.

For his third project, he is working to track the total water the facility takes in— not an easy task, since there are few gauges to measure the water or steam and much is recycled by the plant or collected from rainfall.

Alvarez says he enjoys his studies and is confident he picked the right field, but he feels his personality sets him apart from many of his engineering peers.

“Some of the other engineering students are so into their homework and don’t mind staying inside all day and studying. For me, I just can’t do that. I try to get involved across campus. I love math, but I also need to get out sometimes because I like to be around people,” he said.

Isaac AlvarezAlvarez finds it easy to connect with others. After attending many mission trips abroad to underdeveloped areas with his church, he decided he wants to use his talent in math and his gift of people skills to help underrepresented students.

“I always found it easy to get along with people. I think that I could help someone impoverished or in need and teach how to put their time into studying. I could help them in an area like math, because that’s what I’m best at,” he said.

When he’s not studying, Alvarez likes to stay active. He prefers the outdoors and is known for his spontaneous adventures, such as swimming outdoors, night hikes and camping.

Alvarez is active in his fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon. He also serves as a Lamar University Ambassador and is a member of the Reaud Honors College, Honors Student Association, American Institute of Chemical Engineers and Society of Professional Hispanic Engineers.

Alvarez is the recipient of the Charles and Susan Gordon and Julia Gordon Gray Memorial Scholarship, The Mary Schlesinger Endowed Scholarship, the Cardinal Scholarship, the Sigma Phi Epsilon Balanced Man Scholarship and the Ford Motor Company Stars on the Rise Scholarship. He plans to graduate in December 2020.