UTEP Grads Push Three-Pronged Bottom Line
JENNIFER CLAMPET | January 31, 2012 | UNIVERSITY COMMUNICATIONS
Disenchanted with a corporate structure commanded by the almighty dollar, three UTEP graduates are using the region's oldest educational degree to usher in a new approach to the bottom line.
For Eduardo Andrade, Arturo Romero and Isaac Pabon – graduates of UTEP's undergraduate metallurgical and materials engineering degree program – business is not just about making money.
"It's a triple bottom line," Romero said. "Economics, social, environmental."
And when everything is based on the accumulation of profits, Pabon said, that's when resources get exhausted.
The trio's newest business venture, Pasolus, aims to change that mentality and replace it with more sustainable practices. Those practices include more than just installation of the most energy-efficient technologies and advanced renewable energy technology.
The business uses educational movements explaining to clients exactly where their energy consumptions are going and then provides options for preventing waste.
"It's about solving the energy consumption needs of our clients," Pabon said in describing the goal of the group's consulting business. "Saving energy. Saving money. Saving the environment."
While the El Paso area has businesses focused on energy-efficient practices and technology installations, Andrade said none provide a service similar in scope to Pasolus.
"The environment is very important to us as metallurgists. We're responsible for producing materials in safe and clean ways. Everybody else does not necessarily share in that," Pabon said.
The entrepreneurs can recall looking around at their peers in the UTEP metallurgical and materials undergraduate degree program.
"Take a good look," their instructors noted, "because by the end of this program most of you will be gone."
The trio pushed through the rigors of a major that explores the intricacies of extraction, refinement, processing, testing and evaluating metals, minerals, ceramics, polymers, electronic materials, composites and nanomaterials.
And knowing the history of their degree program – rooted in the very first programs offered at the Texas State School of Mines and Metallurgy, now known as UTEP – Andrade, Pabon and Romero said the quality of their education has shined in their employment opportunities.
Today the University has the third largest traditional metallurgical engineering program in the country.
"We can compete with grads from MIT. We can compete with grads from anywhere," said Romero, who after graduation took a job with the Department of Energy and later a consulting firm.
Pabon and Andrade took jobs with Texas Steel Conversion and Alcoa/NASA respectively. But they soon found themselves back in El Paso. Pabon and Andrade are now pursuing their master's degrees in metallurgy at UTEP.
Reconnecting after graduation and sharing their stories of working for firms displaying tunnel-vision on the bottom line, the three friends reassessed their own priorities.
"It's just an incredible story how quickly they came together and are going ahead," said Gary Williams, Ph.D., director of UTEP's Center for Research Entrepreneurship and Innovative Enterprises (CREIE).
Pasolus was established in late December 2011. And the new business already has its first client – Texas Custom Body and Paint.
Andrade, Pabon and Romero stressed the importance of getting established and making contacts with the help of Williams and CREIE.
CREIE is designed to be the vehicle for commercializing research and technology at UTEP and the engine for economic development in the Paso del Norte region. Formed in 2009, CREIE offers workshops and assistance with market research, creating a business plan and developing a marketing strategy.
"(Williams) opened the doors, and we made the moves once we were in," Romero said.
And the trio hopes to leave sustainable marks on more than just their clients.
They intend to use only American-made products, to employ only local El Paso installers for projects and to encourage clients to pursue waste prevention that in the end could create more jobs in the El Paso region.
As metallurgists and engineers, Pabon said he wants to be a part of a movement that creates more engineering jobs for UTEP graduates so they can stay in the region.
"We can honestly say we love the El Paso area," said Andrade. "We want to influence El Paso in a positive way. We want El Paso city to be the model city for the future so the nation can look at us as the foundation for sustainability."