Scholar Spotlight: Jose Ignacio de Alvear Cardenas

Jose Ignacio de Alvear Cardenas is a visiting scholar from Delft University of Technology and is an Aerospace Engineering Master’s Graduate. Read more about Jose below!

By: Lena Meadows - October 11, 2023

Jose Ignacio de Alvear CardenasWhich SJSU department/college are you affiliated with?

SJSU Human Factors Program – NASA Ames Research Center

What is your role here at SJSU? What do you hope to accomplish during your time here?

SJSURF Project Associate working at NASA Ames.

I would like to contribute to a project of national or worldwide impact in the fields of aircraft operations, robotics and/or AI with the ambition of positively impacting millions within years reach, while being supervised by world-class experts in the field.

Fortunately, I am working for SJSURF at NASA Ames as part of the Airspace Operations Lab, and our work is focused on the integration of new vehicles in the current airspace, such as drones, Urban Air Mobility or air taxis, balloons and High Altitude Long Endurance (HALEs) vehicles.

In my case, I am mostly focused on drones. Nowadays, one of the main reasons why we do not see drones flying in urban areas is that they are constrained to the visual line of sight of the pilot. So, during my time here, I am excited to be working on a project in collaboration with the FAA and industry that will help realize scalable Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) drone operations such that vehicles can be piloted from a distance or fly autonomously. This will enable the introduction of new services and vehicle types at a national level in the years to come.

What do you enjoy most about SJSU or your time here in the U.S.?

Jose Ignacio de Alvear CardenasBeyond the academic and professional sphere, my time in the U.S. has allowed me to explore some of the most astonishing natural landscapes in the world. From the crystal-clear waters of Lake Tahoe to the breathtaking vistas of Yosemite National Park, I’ve been fortunate to witness the sheer majesty of nature. In Lake Tahoe, I also traded my hiking boots for skis and embraced the thrill of downhill skiing amidst the picturesque snow-capped mountains. Stinson Beach provided scenic hiking trails that led to a refreshing plunge into the cool waters. And in Santa Cruz, I embraced the California surfing culture and caught waves in the Pacific Ocean. These remarkable destinations not only provided moments of tranquility but also filled my time in the U.S. with thrilling outdoor adventures and unforgettable memories.

Moreover, my time in the U.S. has been instrumental in expanding my professional network. The Bay Area, known for its innovation and entrepreneurship, has provided abundant opportunities for networking. I’ve had the privilege of attending multiple networking events organized by incubators, start-ups, and embassies, where I could connect with like-minded individuals, explore potential collaborations and learn about branches of knowledge that are very distant from my area of expertise. Additionally, I was honored to be invited as a panelist at an event hosted by the Spanish Chamber of Commerce, where I had the unique opportunity to share my expertise in AI and its societal impacts.

Jose Ignacio de Alvear CardenasWe delved not only into the future potential of AI and its associated risks but also explored the essence of what it means to be human.

Finally, one of the things I have enjoyed the most is to learn about the diverse American culture. The region of California, particularly the Bay Area, is a melting pot of cultures, traditions, and cuisines, providing a rich tapestry of experiences. The hospitality of the American people has been a constant throughout my journey, making me feel welcome and at home. Despite being far from my family, the genuine kindness of strangers has left a lasting impression, making my time in the U.S. not only professionally rewarding but also incredibly enriching on a personal level.

What is something you want others to know about your hometown, home country, or culture?

Spain is a country that thrives on diversity. From the food we savor to the landscapes we explore, there’s an astonishing array of experiences awaiting anyone who visits or gets to know my homeland. One thing I want others to understand about Spain is that there are not two places in the country that are exactly the same, making it a truly unique and captivating destination.

When it comes to Spanish cuisine, the diversity is astounding. Each region boasts its own culinary traditions and specialties, resulting in a food lover’s paradise. From the iconic paella of Valencia to the hearty stews of Castilla y León, and the fresh seafood of Galicia, you can embark on a gastronomic journey that will leave you in awe. Tapas vary from one corner of Spain to another, showcasing local flavors and ingredients.

Spain is not a monolithic culture; each region has its own language or dialect, traditions, and unique cultural practices. From the ancient Basque traditions in the North to the lively flamenco traditions of Andalusia in the South, Spain is a patchwork of rich regional identities.

If you’re a nature enthusiast, Spain offers an astonishing range of landscapes. In the North, you’ll find lush, green hills and dramatic coastlines along the Cantabrian Sea, while the South boasts the arid beauty of Andalusia’s deserts and the pristine beaches of the Mediterranean. Spain also features the snowy peaks of the Pyrenees and Sierra Nevada mountains, as well as the volcanic landscapes of the Canary Islands. The country’s diverse geography leads to an equally diverse climate, from the sunny beaches of the Costa del Sol to the snowy slopes of the Sierra de Guadarrama near Madrid.

In summary, similar to the US, Spain is a land of diversity, where culinary delights, regional customs, and natural wonders come together to create an enchanting mosaic. So, when you think of Spain, think of a place where there are not two spots alike, where every corner is a new adventure waiting to be discovered.

What do you wish you would have known sooner about life in the U.S. or SJSU?

Firstly, the American way of life often revolves around personal vehicles, which came as a surprise after living in the Netherlands for seven years, where public transportation and bicycles are more common. In the U.S., a car is indispensable for everyday tasks, from grocery shopping to accessing healthcare services. Furthermore, having a car is vital to fully experience the breathtaking natural landscapes that the U.S. offers, as many of these locations are not easily reachable without personal transportation. If you don’t already have a driver’s license, obtaining one can significantly enhance your mobility and overall quality of life during your stay in the U.S. In my case, I am now in the process of obtaining mine.

Secondly, the U.S. visa process is a complex and time-consuming endeavor, and it’s essential to be well-informed about the requirements and potential challenges that can arise before and during your stay. It’s vital to stay on top of the subject and to work closely with your sponsoring institution, seeking expert guidance from immigration professionals when needed.

What message do you have for our Global Spartan community?

Studying or working abroad is an incredible journey of growth, learning, and exploration that will leave an indelible mark on your life and career. For those of us that yearn to explore the world, with luck our lives span as little as 100 years, so seize every opportunity you have to burst the bubble you live in, get out of your comfort zone and discover how other parts of the world think and what makes them tick; their goals and dreams.

Given the extremely polarized world we are witnessing, it’s now more crucial than ever to bridge gaps, build connections, and foster a global perspective. By immersing yourself in different cultures, you not only expand your horizons but also become a catalyst for positive change. You become a bridge between nations, a unifier of ideas, and a champion of understanding. Let curiosity be your compass, and let the world be your classroom; the world is waiting for you to make your mark!

Back to Top