“What do you want to be when you grow up? A classic. So simple, yet so complex, and curiously so often asked when we are just kids… when perhaps we should ask this question ourselves every day (but we will talk about that another day). In my case, as a kid, I was pretty clear, I wanted to be a “painter, like Picasso”. Although it is true that, in general, I was always curious about any subject and I enjoyed telling my parents and my brother what I had learnt. I even played at being a teacher and made-up exercises, I would say it was one of my favourite games. I never gave it much more thought and I didn’t do wrong, after all I was a kid, the important thing was to play.
Then one day, my parents bought a computer. I was fascinated. I was especially captivated by a certain application that allowed you to make infinite drawings, colouring with a simple “click” and making shapes, and of course typing and writing infinite letters on a screen. And of course, video games (and playing them).
I didn’t think much more about it, until it was time to decide what to study: would I then fulfil my childhood idea of being a painter or a teacher? Although I wasn‘t totally sure, I thought that studying engineering might be fun, especially if it was related to computers. Actually, I didn’t know what kind of job I would have afterwards (hands up if you knew), but I made my bet (Telecommunications Engineering) and I think I was right. I enjoyed doing the degree, but at the end I wondered if I could go further, it was hard to think that the road had ended up there. I went through several jobs… and that’s when I started to fit the pieces together and decided that what I would really enjoy was being an engineering teacher (2 in 1). Although the road towards this was particularly tough, I decided to go back to university again, this time to do my PhD. And I finished it, but not before travelling to many countries for conferences and research stays, meeting a lot of people, and continuing to learn (and play). I made it! I am now a professor of engineering at the University of Alcalá. But no, this is not yet the end, it is just another stage in my journey. And for now, in engineering I have found a motivating landscape, full of logic games and challenges, full of tears some days, but big smiles on others. But above all I have discovered that engineering is not only computers, chips and cables… it is also creativity and imagination, it is to be able to solve problems of any kind: technological, economic, social… it is still playing! I am lucky enough to feel like a “painter” even though my tools are not brushes, and I am excited to help, to the best of my ability, to solve the problems and great challenges of the future of society. The only problem is that I will need some help, are you up for it?