Computer Engineering alum on track to take over New Mexico automation company
Felix Diaz ’19 stepped into the restaurant with no idea that he was heading into a job interview. He didn’t have a resume. He barely knew the people he was meeting. He had never even heard of the company that he would soon be asked to take over.
As a senior at York College of Pennsylvania, Diaz made a lot of connections. He was involved in everything from YCP Hacks to pitch competitions and even gave tours in the Kinsley Engineering Center. He didn’t remember giving Keith Marshall ’77 a tour of the building his sophomore year, but Marshall hadn’t forgotten Diaz.
The Computer Engineering major had left an impression on the businessman. Later, as Diaz prepared to graduate, Marshall reached out through York College’s Advancement Office to get connected with the bright student he met two years prior. Marshall invited Diaz to dinner at The Left Bank in downtown York. When Diaz stepped into the restaurant that evening, grateful he had worn a suit, he was stepping into an exciting future.
‘A unique opportunity’
Today, Diaz lives and works in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It’s a lot different from York, Pennsylvania, he admits, but he can’t help but think of his hometown and his alma mater. When Diaz came to York College as a York College Community Opportunity Scholarship Program (YCCOSP) student, he was given a chance he didn’t want to waste.
As a YCCOSP student, Diaz had a full scholarship, the opportunity to develop a broad network, and the goal to become a leader in his community. “That program changed my life,” Diaz says. “I look back on that time and it’s obvious that it guided me to where I am today.”
Marshall recruited Diaz as an Research and Development Engineer for his automation company that helps farmers with water irrigation, but he had bigger plans for the young man. The founder of the company, who had run it for years as a one-man operation, was ready to grow the business.
Within his first year at the company, Diaz was promoted several times, and the intention became clear that within five years, he’d be running the business.
“I went from learning about the product to trying to create a sustainable business in a short period of time,” Diaz says. “Now, I’m hiring people, working on marketing and sales, creating strategic partnerships, and figuring out new business operations. It’s a mad dash and a full schedule.”
Diaz says, in its simplest form, the company is bringing the internet to farmers. Irrigation and water delivery is a centuries-old business that with the introduction of automation is saving farmers tens of thousands of gallons of water simply by introducing technology. It’s an essential need for a struggling industry.
“This is absolutely what I’ve wanted to do,” Diaz says, but he’s not talking about the technology aspect. “I want to put people in positions to succeed. I’m given a unique opportunity here to influence something bigger than myself.”
Finding success after school
Diaz looks back on the opportunities he was given at York College, and he believes he’s proof that you don’t need an Ivy League education to succeed. From the Engineering Department to the J.D. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship, he was put in a position to try new things, get comfortable with risk, and push himself.
“Everyone I’ve seen come out of this program and out of this school has found success,” Diaz says. “Seeing people like me, who come from a similar background, the programs that York College offered changed our lives. I know there are other people who are going to see that and wonder if it’s possible for themselves. And it is. We’re proof that York College sets the foundation for an incredible future.”
York College supports students as they work to turn career dreams into reality. Some 99% of new, full-time students receive financial assistance or scholarships. A variety of scholarships and grants are available, based on both merit and financial need.