Scholar of the Week

Driany Alfonso      
Georgia Institute of Technology

Driany Alfonso, recipient of a 2016 HENAAC Scholarship sponsored by Dow Chemical, in the amount of $1,275.00, is currently a junior pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology, after having transferred from Florida International University. A highly intelligent and motivated student, Driany is constantly challenging himself and those around him to reach new heights of academic and personal excellence.

As the son of Cuban immigrant parents, Driany is keenly aware of the sacrifices his family has made for his future and is the driving force behind his work ethic and maturity and actively seeks leadership opportunities where he can give back to the Hispanic community. In 2016, he was inducted into the national engineering honor society, Tau Beta Pi at Florida International University and decided to run for an executive position responsible for engineering outreach. Reaching out to predominantly Hispanic middle and high schools in the Miami area, Driany was able to inform hundreds of students why they should study engineering. Engaging them in simple group activities that involved simplified engineering problems that allowed them to view engineering as a fun and exciting option for themselves.

While at Florida International University, Driany demonstrated an intense interest in advanced engineering materials-related research beyond simply taking courses for his education in Mechanical Engineering and approached his professor about the possibility of conducting research. His professor explained to Driany that the application and scope of potential research work related to advanced ceramic materials, the time and intellectual commitment required for good research, and the typical procedure for getting started, which is often routine tasks such as safety training, reading papers, and conducting simple experiments. Driany grasped those and enthusiastically and diligently pushed through all the routine training and paper work in a timely manner during the winter break. Beyond gaining research experience, Driany also had the opportunity of working alongside PhD students from China, Iraq and Egypt. As the only Hispanic student in the group, this was a unique experience for Driany because it was the first time he interacted within a truly diverse group and it was interesting to him to see how individual backgrounds allowed them all to bring something new the table.

Driany’s professional aspirations are to gain a position within the automotive or aerospace industries. He is fascinated by new developments in energy efficient and autonomous transportation and feels that advances in these fields can interconnect and globalize the world in a whole new way. He wants to be at the forefront of the technology used to move around the world and hopes to one day give the people of Cuba a means of transportation that they have never previously experienced. “To become a leader, you have to be willing to abandon comfort and always try new things.”

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