Alejandro De La Mora tackles the future
In December 2010, Alejandro De La Mora, a former Blue Knights soccer star, graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering. In February of this year, De La Mora packed up his belongings at his apartment near Lake Calhoun and headed east to start a new job as a civil engineer at the new $30 million, 500,000-square-foot Schlumberger facility in Horseheads, N.Y.
The world’s leading supplier of technology, information and project management solutions to the oil and gas industry, Schlumberger employs more than 105,000 people in roughly 80 countries around the globe. Schlumberger is also renowned for its innovative approach to oil field services, investing more than $800 million in research and development in 2009. Alejandro De La Mora is no stranger to innovation.
“DCTC and Coach Stoltz gave me the support I needed. I was part of an amazing soccer program and a great academic environment.”
De La Mora was born 26 years ago in Los Angeles, Calif. He soon moved with his mother to Cancún, the ultra famous resort city on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. Even though he grew up on the Mayan Riviera, he was all business with a work ethic that drove him to always finish number one in his class. Also a gifted athlete, he started playing pro soccer by the age of 15, excelling as a defender for teams like Serpientes, Tucanes, Tecos and Inter Playa del Carmen.
Not only would De La Mora’s mother deflect her son from venturing into downtown Cancún during spring break, but she also persuaded him to pursue higher education as the means to a career beyond soccer. “When I was twenty years old, she told me to go to the U.S., learn English and get my degree,” De La Mora said.
In 2005, that advice brought him to Dakota County Technical College where he met Cam Stoltz, head coach of Blue Knights soccer. Stoltz recruited De La Mora to play midfielder for the Knights. Perhaps of equal significance, De La Mora enrolled in English as a Second Language (today English for Speakers of Other Languages) at DCTC , a move that basically electrified his academic career.
“I first saw Alejandro walking down the hallway toward my classroom and the expression on his face made quite an impression on me,” said Claudia Rose, an ESOL instructor at the college. “His broad smile and bright eyes seemed to be outward indications of the energy and enthusiasm he would bring to the coming semester.”
Rose soon learned that De La Mora had exceptionally clear educational objectives and the motivation to reach his goals quickly. In no time, he was fluent enough in English to take other general education courses at DCTC, including Interpersonal Communications and Intro to Chemistry.
De La Mora played the 2005–2006 season with the Knights, starting all 22 games and making the NJCAA Region XI All-Region First Team. He remembers his time at DCTC as pivotal to his development as a college-level student.
“DCTC and Coach Stoltz gave me the support I needed,” he said. “I was part of an amazing soccer program and a great academic environment. Susan Farmer and Claudia Rose, my ESL instructors, really helped me learn discipline in the classroom and realize my true abilities.
Fueled by a love for math, calculus, chemistry and physics, De La Mora eventually found the College of Science & Engineering at the U of M. At the same time, De La Mora signed with the Minnesota Thunder, a former pro soccer team in the USL First Division.
A grueling schedule of two daily practices combined with travel for away games began interfering with De La Mora’s studies, prompting him to give up pro soccer in favor of his academic career. He played in the USL for only the 2007 season, but former Thunder Head Coach Amos Agee thought highly of his skill on the field.
“Alejandro is a very good, young defender,” Agee said at the time. “He is outstanding defending one on one and is absolutely fearless in tackles and in the air. His work rate and tenacity are unmatched.”
“We started Innovative Engineers after attending an international seminar on alternative energy in Scandinavia. The organization’s goal is bringing reliable, efficient and cost-effective renewable energy solutions to developing countries throughout the world.”
De La Mora delivered that same work rate and tenacity at the U of M. In 2009, he cofounded an official student organization called Innovative Engineers with Josh Durand, a fellow student. Today, Innovative Engineers, one of De La Mora’s proudest achievements, has more than 100 members and a chapter at the Universidad Ibero Americana in Mexico City and plans for one at the University of Miami.
“We started Innovative Engineers after attending an international seminar on alternative energy in Scandinavia,” said De La Mora, who credits Dr. Paul Imberton, a U of M electrical and computer engineering professor, with helping get IE off the ground. “The organization’s goal is bringing reliable, efficient and cost-effective renewable energy solutions to developing countries throughout the world.”
One such solution involves installing a 1-kilowatt wind turbine at La Hermita, a tiny village in Nicaragua. In the summer of 2010, De La Mora, then IE president, and fellow IE members trekked south to La Hermita, which depends on car batteries for electricity to power lights and radios. Once the turbine project is completed, village residents will no longer lose a whole day of work riding on horseback to the nearest city to recharge their batteries. They will have their own power supply—one they will be able to maintain and repair thanks to training from IE volunteers.
“Innovative Engineers is like a sandbox for students from programs all across the university⎯not just engineering programs,” De La Mora said. “IE is experienced in wind power, but the group also has projects focused on hydropower and ocean wave energy.”
De La Mora’s innovative force is still at work at DCTC. IE students are in the planning stages of a project that will install a 10-kilowatt wind turbine at the college’s Rosemount campus. “The new turbine will be used for testing and research,” said De La Mora, who will be busy at Schlumberger in the Well Services division. “I won’t be actively working on the turbine, but I definitely will be keeping track of the project.”
U of M 2011 President’s Student Leadership and Service Award
Alejandro De La Mora won the 2011 President’s Student Leadership and Service Award, one of the most prestigious honors at the University of Minnesota. Presented annually to one-half of one percent of all U of M students, the award recognizes the leadership and community service contributions of the university’s most outstanding students.
For more information about Blue Knights Men’s Soccer, please contact:
- Cam Stoltz
DCTC Men and Women’s Head Soccer Coach
For more information about ESOL at DCTC, please contact:
- Claudia Rose
Developmental Education Instructor