One to Watch: First-generation American innovator says: ‘You have to want it’

In our ongoing series, ‘One to Watch,’ we profile TIers who are making a difference through innovation or citizenship.

David Jauregui’s internal drive and relentless curiosity took root at a young age as he watched his parents pursue the American dream.

One to Watch: David Jauregui’sNow an innovator with multiple patents and new product innovations to his name, David’s natural inquisitiveness and internal drive compels him to develop critical technologies for next-generation products and solve problems for customers and the industry. His involvement in the design and development of leading-edge power semiconductors has led to the creation of industry-leading products that drive innovation and improvements in cost and size. These new technology and product developments have been instrumental in enabling high-end computers, network routers, game consoles and mobile phones.

His achievements recently were recognized by the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers with a 2016 SHPE Technical Achievement Recognition Award (STAR) for corporate achievement. The award honors key contributors in the Hispanic community in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

“David has a unique combination of talents,” said Steve Heiner, a product line manager in our Analog Power Products business. “He has a deep technical understanding. He looks at issues not only from the perspective of specific customers, but he’s also extremely strong and creative in how he thinks about solving industry-wide issues.”

David’s love for problem solving was cultivated by fixing toys as a boy and working on his car as a young man.

Today, he leads the advanced technology, system and applications, and test development teams for our Power MOSFET business. MOSFETs − metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistors – are switches on a semiconductor device.

“David is very good at problem-solving,” said Jeff Sherman, strategic marketing manager. “He provides leadership to solve problems, comes up with the right answers and develops a vision regarding the technology needed to support next-generation products.”

Read how David created opportunities for himself and overcame the odds to build a career in technology innovation:

How were you introduced to engineering?

I grew up in a family where money was spent on three things: shelter, clothing and food. Everything else was a luxury.

When I was 7, I had a small remote-control toy car that stopped working. If I wanted to keep it, I had to find a way to make it work. So I took it apart and tried to figure out what was going on inside. It was just a loose wire and I got it running again, but I was hooked. From then on, when something broke or I wanted to get something to work better, I would take it apart and try to figure out how to fix or improve it.

In high school, I bought a car for $600. It was a bucket, but it was mine. Because it broke down so often, I had to learn to fix it. I also wanted to understand computers – either fix them, update them or get them to run faster.

Although I didn’t always take school as seriously as I should have, math was a strong subject for me. It was easy. I could see the problems and understand the solution. Toward the end of high school, I realized I wanted to get into engineering.

How did your family influence your career?

My work ethic comes from my parents. I’m a first-generation American. My grandfather, my dad and other family members would go back and forth from Mexico to Southern California to work. My dad got married in Mexico and brought my mother back to the U.S. to stay. They started putting down roots here and eventually bought a house in the Los Angeles area and lived the American dream.

My dad went into the restaurant business. He started washing dishes and worked his way up to become the executive chef of a prime rib steakhouse. That was a great accomplishment for him. He has retired, but it certainly makes for good cooking when I go home. 

When I was growing up, if I needed money for something, I had to work for it. My first job – in third or fourth grade – was delivering a weekly newspaper in our community. I got paid a penny per paper. I’d deliver 700 papers and make $7. I thought it was great. I got my first real job, as a high school sophomore, at an auto-parts store.

What was your educational experience?

In school, I was on my own. My dad’s education went to eighth grade and my mom’s to third grade. They knew education was a key for future success, but if I wanted to get ahead or do well, it was up to me.

After graduating from high school, I went to ITT Technical Institute and earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. I worked full time as a test engineer at a semiconductor company during the day and went to school at night.

Over time, I got the bug to continue my education and got accepted to the University of Southern California for a master’s in engineering management. By that time, I was well into my career, had four kids and was traveling a lot. When I moved from Southern California to Pennsylvania for a new job at a startup company, I was able to complete the degree remotely.

Why is STEM important to you?

The whole point of a technology career is to utilize your strengths and know-how to drive change and innovation. The point of getting a degree is not just to do work. The objective is to be challenged mentally so you can realize your potential. A focus in STEM helps ensure that you’re always being challenged to be innovative.

The opportunities in the U.S. are endless, no matter what your background is. I’m a prime example of that. But you have to be internally driven to go out and find the opportunities. You have to want it. There’s a lot of support to help you achieve your goals, but it all starts with an internal drive.