Huy Le earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Arizona in 2015. In his work as a systems engineer at Raytheon Missiles & Defense, he has sponsored several Interdisciplinary Capstone projects. This is his first year serving as a mentor for the program.
What inspired you to become a mentor?
Throughout my time as a sponsor, I really enjoyed working with the students and watching their growth throughout the year. This summer, I saw an open position and decided to reach out to a mentor I once worked with to get their take. I was sold instantly. Working on this type of development project and working with students are both things I’m very passionate about, so the mentor role fit perfectly. It’s incredibly gratifying to be a part of someone’s growth and development.
Have you benefited from the experience of having a mentor in your own life?
There is no way I would’ve gotten to where I am without the mentors in my life. Having a mentor is an extremely valuable resource. No matter how smart or prepared you think you are, there are just things you can never 100% know. Having someone who has walked that path before you really helps provide that guidance we all need sometimes.
How does being on a mentored design team help students in the professional world?
The design program is an amazing way for students to get a dress rehearsal for the real world. While their college coursework provides them with the knowledge they’ll need one day, nothing quite prepares students for the rigors of professional engineering like this program. Students really get a taste of what it’s like to take a design from inception all the way through to finished product, while following the same steps that engineers in the real world use. On top of this, the students from all the various degree programs within engineering work together for the first time. This gives them a grasp of how to work with complementary skill sets and effectively deploy a diverse team.
What advice would you offer to others considering mentoring a design team?
Absolutely do it! Mentorship of a design team is an incredible opportunity rarely found in the corporate world. Being a mentor has been one of the most gratifying experiences of my career, and my only regret is that I didn’t become a mentor sooner.
How do employers benefit when they hire students who have been on a mentored senior design team?
The value in hiring students from senior design teams is incalculable. You’re getting a student that has had a yearlong exposure to life in a professional engineering environment and is ready to hit the ground running. Rather than needing to be trained from zero, students from senior design already know what to expect, and, most importantly, already have that professional engineering mindset. I’d also strongly encourage employers to sponsor a team and hire from that team. It’s really a unique opportunity to have a yearlong interview with a group of people and see what they would be like to work with. When I sponsored projects for Raytheon, we would go in with the goal of hiring students from our teams. We consistently noticed how much better it was to hire in this manner rather than to hire a total stranger.
Tell us something about yourself that people might be surprised to learn.
Whenever I travel, the number one priority is to find the best places to go eat – especially when I’m traveling abroad. I would much rather go to a local restaurant than see a touristy sight that I could look at on a postcard. In fact, there have been many times on my work travels where I’ve forgone seeing a famous monument or museum in favor of eating at an amazing restaurant. My view is that eating how locals eat gives me much more exposure to someone’s culture than visiting a spot the tour agencies cram people into like sardines. I mean, think about it: What defines you more? Your favorite restaurant or the Grand Canyon?