In Tucson, Arizona – some 2,700 miles southwest of Lawrence – Patrick Pinder-Newton, a junior at the University of Arizona in Tucson, was having doubts about his career path. "I was really struggling with my classes," he said. He wanted to be an engineer, but he just wasn't sure he'd make it.
But those doubts soon went away after he was matched with a mentor, Carlos Hurtado, a senior mechanical engineer at Raytheon Missiles & Defense. “He reassured me that, even if I’m not doing the best in my math or physics classes, I still have the capabilities to be an amazing engineer,” Pinder-Newton said.
Starting June 2021, Hurtado mentored Pinder-Newton through the university's Summer TRACK program, where students enroll in extra classes, develop their professional skills and spend time at participating companies in and around Tucson.
Pinder-Newton has completed Summer TRACK, but his mentorship with Hurtado continues. As well as coursework, they strategize networking, mock interviews and how to navigate a professional environment.
“The biggest thing that Carlos has offered me is his engineering expertise, breaking it down in a very digestible manner that I’m able to apply in many of my classes,” said Pinder-Newton, who likes the collaborative design aspects of engineering. He credited that guidance with his decision to stick with his engineering major. And he’s accepted a summer internship opportunity at Raytheon Missiles & Defense.
For his part, Hurtado said the mentorship’s benefits are mutual: “The biggest thing I learned from Patrick is to keep a positive outlook. He’s so full of energy and life, and he’s super excited about accomplishing his goals, both academically and professionally, that it gives me a good breath of fresh air.”
“As I grew up without a father, Carlos has really shown me the ropes when my mother couldn’t,” Pinder-Newton said. “I call Carlos my ‘bonus’ dad, as anytime I need help with something, he is there.”
Hurtado said he’s happy to step in whenever he can.
“We talk about personal and professional things but, outside of that, we hang out,” Hurtado added. “I have a barbecue, he comes over. He was looking to buy a car, so I helped him out based on my own skills and experiences with cars.”