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Drivers of Innovation: Success Stories Key to STEM Diversity

To help celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, engineer Jose Bonilla talks about his Mexican heritage and the need for STEM role models.

Headshot of Jose Bonilla

October 7, 2021

Jose Bonilla has been with UL since 2003 and is currently a field business manager with the Field Engineering team. He studied at Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (also known at ITESM or Tecnológico de Monterrey) in his hometown and graduated with a Bachelors of Science in electronic engineering. Bonilla spent most of his life in Mexico but moved to the Denver area with his family several years ago.

How did you choose a career in engineering?

My dad is a mechanical engineer — he designed and manufactured machines that he used in his business. So, I’ve always viewed engineering as an intelligent way to be creative. I’ve also always liked building and creating. My motivation for becoming an electronic engineer was to create something new that no one had thought of before.

How did you come to join UL?

UL’s safety mission appealed to me, as I used to work with not-for-profits. I’ve always believed in the company’s safety mission. I enjoy people, so being a field engineer was a good position for me. I liked the idea of being out of the office, driving to different places and seeing other people.

What do you like about your job and working for UL?

Even though I have a specific role as a business manager, I have the flexibility and the support to get involved in projects I feel passionate about. I can decide which projects I want to join, which is not common in the industry. For example, being a people manager, I miss the technical side of things. So, I am involved in transformation projects, working on software testing and programming.

What are you proud of about your Mexican heritage?

My parents are Mexican, and although I was born in El Paso, Texas, I spent most of my life in Mexico. So, I have not given a lot of thought to what being Hispanic means. However, I do believe that we are the things that we value and prioritize. I love our family-oriented culture and how anything is a good excuse to get together and socialize. I believe that we are happy, friendly and hard-working people who enjoy life.

I enjoy going to Mexico, spending time with friends and family. Of course, I love our incredibly diverse cuisine, too. You name a region in Mexico, and I’ll tell you a few typical dishes from that area. Name a Mexican tradition or holiday, and I can name a couple of dishes cooked for that festivity.

What do you think about National Hispanic Heritage Month?

For me, National Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity to showcase who we are. I feel that the more you know about someone else, the easier it is to understand them and relate with them. So, this is a great opportunity to bring people and communities closer together.

Having moved to the U.S. in the last few years, it’s been interesting to have friends from Latin America and Europe in addition to people from Colorado. I did not have access to an experience like this in Mexico, and it has been fantastic meeting people from all over.

How can we encourage more Hispanic students to pursue STEM careers?

A good start is making sure that they know that a STEM career is a possibility. This can be achieved by sharing successful STEM professionals' stories and having them serve as role models.

I also believe that science-based companies should have more presence in schools and do everything they can to promote STEM careers. And the younger we can start, the better. That is why I love UL’s Safety Smart Program, as well as UL’s participation in events like FIRST. 

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