How They Got Here: 4 Engineers Reflect on Their Career Paths

    We asked some of our innovators and leaders involved with the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) to share their advice for building a meaningful career.

    Want to help organizations operate more sustainably? Or design technology to help astronauts breathe in space?

    Those are just some of the many ways Honeywell’s engineers are making an impact – and an example of the ideas that you, too, could bring to life in a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) career.

    Getting involved with organizations like the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) is one way to explore and develop career paths in STEM, and that’s why at Honeywell, we’re proud to partner with SHPE to empower the next generation of innovators in the Hispanic community.

    Meet some of our #Futureshapers who have been involved with SHPE at various points in their careers.

    Maria Dillard

    (Pictured above)

    Then: Environmental engineering student at Louisiana State University

    Now: Process and Safety Management Engineer

    What do you do?

    I design engineering solutions to ensure the safety of our process, our personnel and the environment. I work with experts to get creative and find solutions.

    How has SHPE played a role in your career development?

    SHPE gave me a perspective on talent and opportunities at each stage in my engineering career. Getting to talk to so many talented candidates reminded me of all the support that my family, friends, professors, teachers and mentors gave me, which meant so much for my development.

    What’s your top piece of advice for aspiring engineers?

    Remember that every learning style is different, and you shouldn’t compare yourself to a previous version of yourself. Don’t forget to celebrate your own progress. Engineering is about working hard and staying positive and resilient for what doesn’t come easy.

    Delia Contreras

    Then: Chemical engineering student at Universidad Industrial de Santander

    Now: Vice President of Engineering and Functional Excellence

    What do you do?

    I lead an organization that is accountable for the proper planning, scoping and execution of capital projects for the Performance Materials and Technologies business. Projects include improvements to our sites as part of our continuous improvement culture; increasing capacity; introduction of new products; consolidating facilities, building new sites and more. I am also accountable for functional excellence, which includes maintenance excellence (governance and improvements of our maintenance & reliability work processes), process engineering for chemical sites, and for advance manufacturing engineers for discrete manufacturing sites.

    How has SHPE played a role in your career development?

    I have been a member of SHPE over the course of more than 20 years and have participated in several conferences either as a speaker, panelist or recruiter. It has provided a venue for networking and development.

    What’s your top advice for aspiring engineers?

    Deliver on results, ask for more responsibility but be strategic about it, have fun and network with purpose.  You never know who will put your name in the hat for the next opportunity.

    Raúl Alarcón

    Then: Electronics Science student at Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla

    Now: Director of Engineering

    What do you do?

    I lead the mechanical engineering department at Honeywell Intelligrated. We enable the fast growth of e-commerce in North America, designing advanced material handling solutions to make warehouses and distribution centers more efficient and productive. In few words, we enable items you buy online to be delivered more efficiently.

    How has SHPE played a role in your career development?

    I’ve joined SHPE this year, and I consider it a great opportunity to create a network and connect with a diverse group of professionals who are leading in STEM and inspiring coming generations to follow in a similar path.

    What’s your top piece of advice for aspiring engineers?

    Most of the top engineering leaders I’ve met excel not only in technical expertise but also in interacting with other areas of the ecosystem, such as finance, sales, marketing and legal. Take every opportunity you have to collaborate with diverse teams beyond engineering to build a broader view of the challenge you are trying to solve.

    Mercedes Valladares

    Then: Industrial and systems engineering student at the University of Florida

    Now: Senior Director of Engineering

    What do you do?

    I lead our space engineering organization within our aerospace business. We design and make products for use on all types of spacecraft and have products on every single NASA human space mission.  For example, we make products that help astronauts breathe on the International Space Station. We also designed a Fine Guidance Sensor that is currently helping guide the James Webb Telescope and point it precisely, so it can focus on specific objects and capture incredibly amazing images of stars and galaxies to send back to earth.   

    How has SHPE played a role in your career development?

    I helped inaugurate a Hispanic engineering society in college which later became the University of Florida’s SHPE student organization, enabling me at the time to practice my leadership skills. SHPE recently partnered with the Southern Methodist University Cox School of Business to develop a leadership development program for SHPE members, and in 2020, I was fortunate enough to be selected to attend the five-day course, which was beyond impactful.

    What’s your top advice for aspiring engineers?

    The decisions and choices you make today help shape the rest of your life, therefore choose wisely. 

    Become a lifelong learner. Learn about the industry in which you decide to work through industry journals and technical publications, not just the college coursework.

    Be open to different career options, such that you can identify what you are truly passionate about. 


    Ready to make an impact? Explore our career opportunities and learn more about what it's like to work at Honeywell.