Valley native reflects on NASA achievements

6 months 2 weeks 4 days ago Thursday, March 04 2021 Mar 4, 2021 March 04, 2021 9:13 PM March 04, 2021 in News - Local

For Carlos Villalpando, a native from Edcouch-Elsa, getting to work at NASA’s jet propulsion laboratory as a senior engineer in California for 28 years and counting has been a blessing.

Villalpando graduated from Edcouch-Elsa High School in 1991. He also graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 1996, then graduated from the University of Southern California with a master's degree in electrical engineering.

And just recently, years of his hard work,  paid off in a big way.

“Finally, when the Mars 2020 project came around, they picked up something that I started working on 18 years ago,” Villalpando said. "Technology development for space has a long tail on it."

Viillalpando built computers that help the Mars Rover not bump into anything while it’s in space.

Through all the hard work and determination, Villalpando thanks his parents for believing in him. Villalpando's parents remember what it was like for him growing up when Edcouch-Elsa was known as one of the poorest school districts per capita in the state. 

Villalpando’s father, Alberto, says at the time, Edcouch-Elsa wasn't able to participate in statewide competitions.  But the love of a father, and the determination of a son, persevered.

“When he was 11, he knew what he was going to do in life," Alberto said. “The other students, other people stated that Carlos did as well as he did because I was on the school board. But let me tell you, that kid did it all on his own."

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