Cipriano Santos, a distinguished professor at Tecnológico de Monterrey, will encourage top students to undertake internships at Google, LinkedIn, and other companies in California.
Cipriano Santos was the first Mexican to work for Hewlett-Packard (HP) laboratories in Palo Alto, California, where he registered 18 patents and started an internship program for Mexicans who trained and gained experience in solving the needs of the industry.
In 2017, after 23 years with the company, he retired as a distinguished technologist, a recognition given to him by HP for his contributions and leadership.
Now a distinguished professor at Tec de Monterrey’s School of Engineering and Sciences, he will lead the Operations Artificial Intelligence project, which aims to create a stream of top young people to train at Silicon Valley startups in Artificial Intelligence, Computer Science, and Optimization.
Tec Review interviewed this Mexican technologist who succeeded in such a competitive world and now seeks to lead the way for more young people.
Cipriano Santos was born in Mexico City. At the age of three, he contracted polio, a disease that paralyzed his legs, but it did not hinder his social or professional development.
Like thousands of children of his generation, he watched the exploits of NASA’s Apollo program on television and dreamed of being an astronaut like Neil Armstrong and going to the Moon.
A cousin told him he had to become a nuclear physicist to achieve that. He laughs at this now because his cousin was wrong, but these words were enough encouragement to keep him from being “average” in mathematics.
“My biggest role model was Albert Einstein. I imagined myself solving equations, but as I advanced in my studies, I realized that I wanted to become more involved in industry,” he said.
Because of this, he studied actuarial science at the Faculty of Sciences of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). He met Mexican professors there who had received their doctorate degrees from the University of Waterloo, Canada. They inspired him so much that he went to that university to do his master’s and doctorate degrees in Management Sciences.
Thanks to his thesis on production programming models, HP Labs contacted him to offer him a job, so he moved to San Francisco, California, where he now lives.
He is an enthusiastic person who breaks the stereotype of a scientist who spends his time locked up in his laboratory solving equations.
When he travels to Mexico City, he jams with his old friends in a rock band they formed years ago, just like in the old days.
He now really enjoys giving talks and inspiring young people. His topic is artificial intelligence applications that address challenging business, engineering, and scientific problems with a high level of uncertainty.
Cipriano Santos is very proud to talk about the internship program he created at HP Labs with his colleague Francisco Andrade.
“Of all the things I’ve done in my life, that’s the most beautiful.” One of his great motivations in life is helping people use complex mathematics to solve complex problems.
Teresa González, Christopher Mejía, Iván López, and Claudia Márquez are some of the talented young people who took advantage of the opportunity to get jobs at companies in the United States and Mexico.
As a distinguished professor in advanced logistics and mathematical modeling at the Tec de Monterrey’s School of Engineering and Science, he intends to take up that initiative and make it bigger, taking advantage of his contacts at HP, Google, Microsoft, LinkedIn, and other large and small Silicon Valley companies.
“The work I’m doing at the Tec is my dream job. The idea is to create enough critical mass so we can link companies with top students who can solve problems.”
His project is called Operations Artificial Intelligence, and his goal is for the Tec to be the leading institution that establishes partnerships with national and foreign universities from Canada, the United States, Chile, Bogotá, and elsewhere.
Students will learn about Artificial Intelligence, Computer Science, and Optimization and may benefit from research stays or as research assistants.
The competition is global. There are people from Japan, France, and India looking for the same opportunity, and it’s very difficult for companies to interview you, but it isn’t impossible.
Cipriano Santos will put into practice everything he has learned from his experience in the industry to help students solve problems without necessarily being mathematicians.
“Applied mathematics and computer science are trending. As important as it is for children to learn to read and write, they should also learn different programming languages to develop skills such as problem-solving,” he said.