Tell us about your research project and why it is important to you.
My research and thesis project is about hardware security. You could say I am a computer architect who analyzes how the internal components of microprocessors can be used to steal information in both computer processors and mobile devices. Given the nature of such attacks, this issue evolves very fast. For example, the computer program that implements my latest proposals takes milliseconds to run, and yet involves a complete publication.
Even so, I cannot deny that I love this subject. What makes it so interesting is the way in which you have to use both creativity and logic. How you have to devise “hacks” to make your ideas work, and how your ideas may have significant impact.
Have you submitted or published your research somewhere? Tell us about the experience.
Yes, during the summer of 2019, I presented my first publication in Dallas, Texas in the 39th annual International Conference on Distributed Computing Systems (ICDCS). The truth is that it was a very pleasant experience, but at the same time a bit discouraging. I was pleased to meet people from my field; many of them were young, like me, but they still had very interesting ideas. However, at the same time I was a little sad to see that I was the only Mexican in the conference.
What would you say is something interesting about your area of study that most people don't know?
The high impact of the proposals in this area. The truth is that any weakness that is discovered affects pretty much all modern computers and cell phones.
Tell us about your academic or professional collaborations with Mexico.
After finishing my degree in mechatronic engineering at the Technological Institute of Saltillo, I worked for a while in the automotive industry. For about a year, I worked as a programmer of automotive controllers, and despite the fact that my previous experience was in computers, I realized that I had a good sense of logic and programming. At that time, I completed the integration of a new sand molding line, in which aluminum parts were cast. I was fortunate to work with people from Germany and Austria.
What attracted you to Texas and UT San Antonio?
I think the proximity to Saltillo. Apart from that, I was already familiar with San Antonio and I always thought it would be nice to live here.
What have been some good things you did not expect from Texas or UT San Antonio?
All the support from ConTex. The truth is that they have helped me a lot with all the paperwork related to CONACYT and have made my stay here very pleasant. Also, my classmates and research team—I have made many close friends with whom I have shared very good experiences.
What have been the biggest challenges of studying at UT San Antonio and living in the United States?
Changing my lifestyle to use a car more. In Saltillo, I lived downtown and could walk everywhere and use public transport. I think that little detail has been the most challenging part of adapting to San Antonio.
How has the support of ConTex and CONACYT impacted you?
In the best way possible. I have had very good experiences with ConTex, and I have a lot to thank CONACYT for. Together, they are great at handling funding, which allows me to concentrate on my research topic.
What kind of work do you expect to do in the future? How do you expect your research to benefit people in the United States and Mexico?
I am considering if I should continue my research and do postdoctoral work, since my friends say that I am very passionate about research. I would also like to work at a technology firm for a while to gain some more practical experience. But deep down, I would also like to go back to Saltillo for a while and teach at my alma mater. I have so many fond memories of the Technological Institute of Saltillo that I feel the need to give something back to young
What advice would you give to other Mexican students who are considering studying in Texas?
Consider buying a car from the beginning—it is absolutely essential. Prepare for the summer heat, and if you come to San Antonio, keep in mind that it rains a lot during the rest of the year.