Faculty Highlight: José Santos | College of Information Science & Technology – University of Nebraska Omaha

Name: José Santos
Research Areas: Biomedical Feature-Preserving Signal Compression, Wireless Area Sensor Networks, Machine Learning, Robotics and Computer Architectures
Hometown/State (Provence)/Country: San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Welcome to IS&T! Can you tell us a little bit about your area of expertise and the classes you’ll be teaching?

My current research interests reside in Biomedical Feature-Preserving Signal Processing and Compression in Wireless (Body) Area Sensor Networks (WBASNs) and combining that with Machine-Learning Applications.  I’ve also done work for an educational robotics platform homegrown here in Nebraska called the CEENBoT, which has had a significant impact in STEM education in many of our K-12 schools, also in Nebraska.  Currently I’m either teaching, or slated to teach Digital Design and Computer Organization, C Programming, Communication Networks, Operating Systems and Computer Architectures, which are all subjects I love to ‘geek out’ about.

When did you realize what you wanted to do? Any role models help you on your path?

I’ve always known what I wanted to do since I was very little, since I’ve always been attracted to STEM-related topics—particularly in electronics.  My grandfather, whom was a self-thought electronics hobbyist and my uncle also a self-thought technician were my role models during that time.  My parents, of course, are also my role models as they’ve made great sacrifices that have ultimately allowed me to reach the point where I am today in life.

As an undergrad/graduate student, what were your major stepping stones to guide your career trajectory to where you are now?

As an adult when I started with my undergraduate degree here at the Omaha campus, I’ve come in contact with many people responsible for guiding my career choices to where it is today.  I fell in love with teaching, in particular, when my Calculus 1 teacher set me aside and suggested I visit the MathLab department under the direction of MaryRita Dennison at the North Campus’ Durham Science Center.  Within a short time I was allowed to teach and after that I knew precisely what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.  Many of the ‘stepping stones’ have turned out to be wonderful people I’ve met and worked with exclusively during my undergraduate and graduate career right here at this University.

Tell us a little bit about IS&T! What’s a typical day look like for you?

Because I was hired during the Covid-19 era, most of my time is spent in my home office, where I keep busy creating class materials, planning and preparing for lectures and project-based activities for my students, meeting with and checking on my students from time to time to make sure they’re ok, given these difficult times we currently live in.  As a new faculty member I’m working to foster new relationships with colleagues here at IS&T and create bridges with my fellow colleagues next door from UNL’s ECE department.

What major advice do you have for students as they navigate their own career paths?

Don’t give up on your goals and on your dreams.  Don’t let the problems that you are facing now distract you from your ultimate objectives.  You will face difficulties no matter what career path you choose to pursue.  Temporary defeat reaches most of us from time to time, but those that succeed never choose to give up.  Learn from your mistakes and realize it’s human to fail from time to time.  To remember that things are never ‘over’ until either they are in actuality, or until you say they’re over.  Never take your eyes away from what you’re after and you’ll be able to weather any storm.

Anything else you want us to know about you?

I like to draw (in Japanese Manga style), and I am a passionate film score ‘afficionado’.  I also can’t believe I’m part of the IS&T family and I’m very excited to be here.  I’m very grateful to be given this remarkable opportunity.  Everyone here has been really amazing.

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