Martinez Family: Generations of Javelina Engineers

by Elaine Barnes

Coordinator, Alumni and Donor Communications


Martinez Family 
Distinguished Alumni


The Martinez Family is a proud family of Javelina Engineers. Richard Martinez '85 and his wife, Nora Martinez '86, couldn't hide their love and appreciation for our university when it came time for their children, Lauren Martin '10 and Joseph '19, to earn college educations of their own. Both children decided to follow in their parents' footsteps and earn their engineering degrees from Texas A&M-Kingsville because of a combination of a quality education and a special, family-oriented legacy that Javelina Nation presented. 


Current Careers: 

Nora: Retired Teacher & Chemical Engineer; Richard: Senior Principle Engineer, Chemours Chemicals; Lauren: Production Engineer, Lyondell Bassell, Corpus Christi; Joseph: Process Engineer, Chemours Chemicals


Q: You mentioned a long family history of Javelina Engineers – did you each always want to be an engineer?




Nora: I initially thought about being a doctor but my love of chemistry steered me towards chemical engineering.



Richard: As a kid I had no real idea of what an engineer was. My high school guidance counselor was instrumental in steering me into Engineering. She knew I was technically oriented and I did well in math and science. Also, when I was a junior in HS, I had a cousin from Indiana who had graduated from Notre Dame with an ME degree. As luck had it, he was on an assignment working on a project at Citgo here in Corpus Christi.


I remember him picking me up after school one day and taking me in a Chevy Camaro car rental to look at the project he was working on. I was impressed by the vapor recovery skid project he was managing, how it worked, what it did, and why it was being installed. Also, I was very impressed with the yellow Camaro. Both had a very positive impact. I know I wanted a challenging career and my parents and big brother wanted me to get into a demanding field where I could support myself. I think it all worked out.



Lauren: It’s safe to say I did not have the conventional type of upbringing.  I grew up with a periodic table shower curtain and idolizing scientists such as Einstein, Newton and Curie.  A love for science and mathematics was instilled in me at a very young age.  My mother jokes that as a baby she would tell me, “You’re so smart… And so good at math and science!”  She credits my chemical engineering career choice to these early lines of affirmation.  The funny thing is, I caught her saying the same mantra to my five-month-old just the other day! 



Joseph: For the most part, yes. Ever since I was young, I knew that I wanted to be an engineer. Getting to hear about the work that my dad, mom, and eventually sister, did was very inspirational to me. Solving puzzles and pushing my brain has always been one of my favorite pastimes, and I consider myself very lucky that I get to do that on a much larger scale every day!



Q: Can you describe your family's relationship with TAMUK further?



Nora: For me and my husband, we graduated from Texas A&I University. Lauren and Joseph graduated from TAMUK. With either name, it is still a very well established university with an outstanding engineering college.  For all of us, it is home.


Richard: Myself, my wife, and both kids all have engineering degrees from Kingsville. The engineering programs at TAMUK/A&I are very tough. The retention rate is probably the lowest of any of the curriculums on campus because it’s that tough. Only to best make it through.

The education I got there has allowed me to compete at the same level as anyone from any school – no exceptions. Nora and I wanted our kids to experience a similar challenge to get the same, if not better, opportunities than what we’ve had. Both our kids had the chance to visit several campuses and after weighing pros and cons, both selected Kingsville.

Today I serve on several engineering committees – The Port Industries/TAMUK Consortium and the TAMUK Mechanical Engineering Industrial Advisory Board. I feel that me serving in these committees allows me to contribute and provide experience that hopefully helps the programs remain as strong as ever. As an alum and a parent of two students who have gone through the program, I had a vested interest in serving on these boards.

When my youngest graduated this past May, I thought I might lose the desire to continue to serve; however, this is not the case. I’m very passionate about the success of the engineering program and now I am trying to push that passion onto both kids. The education that I got at TAMUK opened a lot of doors for me and has allowed me to have a very satisfying career thus far. I want the same for them and future students.


Lauren: Although my mom and dad encouraged me to attend the college of my choosing, it’s no secret that TAMUK was their number one choice.  Having both attended the university and obtained their engineering degrees from there, it was only natural that they desire their kids to do the same.

When it came time for my college visit, they had called ahead and arranged for the chair of chemical engineering at the time to give me a private tour. The chair was my mom’s former professor and a great family friend. I felt like I got the royal treatment. He chauffeured us around in a  private golf cart and really went above and beyond to ensure me that TAMUK would be the perfect fit for me. And he was right.

When it came time for my brother to choose his college, my parent’s arranged for a similar type of tour and he was sold, just as I was.   
TAMUK holds a special place in all four of our hearts. It’s always fun coming back for tailgates and football games, alumni functions and career fairs.


Joseph: My mother, father, and sister all received engineering degrees from A&I/TAMUK, and we are extremely proud to say that.

This little town was a large part of my childhood. Many weekends growing up for me consisted of being in Kingsville every Saturday to watch the football games.

My parents in particular have extremely tight-knit ties with the university, and the memories and friends that they have from college are still with them today.



Q: What are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of your work?



Richard: Most rewarding would be resolving machinery issues. Especially when we are able to find the true root cause of the issue and implement an improvement.   


Lauren: I love that every single person waking up across the country is somehow impacted by what we do on a daily basis. The toothbrush used to brush your teeth, the gas used to get to and from work, the computer used to perform your daily job – this industry touches it all.

Everyday is a different challenge, which can be both rewarding and exciting, but can also give rise to long days and hours of troubleshooting. I love that we work as a team to achieve a common goal, and I love the sense of accomplishment we all feel when we get past issues. It’s a very rewarding career.


Joseph: The most rewarding aspect of my work has got to be the teamwork involved / required to keep the plant functioning smoothly. The processes that take place to create everything around us, from our shoelaces to the airplanes flying overhead, are incredibly complex, and it takes a team of many different people with solid communication between them to pull it off in a safe, efficient manner. Every single person involved has a very specific role that they fill in the grand scheme to make it all work.

The most challenging aspect of my work so far has been the shift from college to my early career. In any professional career, there are many things that cannot be taught in college, and must be learned on the job. Being the youngest / least experienced engineer at my plant, I often can feel very intimidated or stressed when everybody else knows something and I don’t. However, I am very thankful for my coworkers and managers for enabling me to feel confident enough to always ask questions when I need, and to never be afraid to ask for help if I feel overwhelmed.



Q: Would you attribute any of your success to your time at A&I/TAMUK? 



Nora: Yes absolutely.  My time at A&I was essential in expanding my knowledge and learning how things work in the real world.


Richard: I got a great education at Texas A&I.  I met some lifelong friends.  But, most importantly, I met my life partner, Nora.  We both have done well in our careers and definitely complemented each other to succeed.  At the same time we raised two brilliant kids who we are very proud of.  I would not trade where I am for anything.  


Joseph: Absolutely. Dr. Alexander, Dr. Amaya, Dr. Chisholm, Dr. Duarte, and so many other great staff members at TAMUK prepared me as best they could to become an engineer. Those professors made me excited to begin work. At Chemours, I’m surrounded by incredible engineers, and at least a third of them are TAMUK grads, which speaks to the success and prestige of the university.



Q: What does it mean to be a Javelina Engineer? 



Nora: It means that I was able to go through and succeed at one of the toughest engineering programs in the US as well as all the math, chemistry, and physics classes.  


Richard: A Javelina Engineer is practical, hard working, and ethical.  We have a proud history and heritage and we need to continue the legacy.


Lauren: I take such pride in being a second generation Javelina Engineer. I took on a very challenging field of study and am now reaping the benefits of my degree by doing something that I enjoy every day.  When I lived in Louisiana for a few years right out of college and I would tell people I went to Texas A&M, they all assumed I meant College Station.  With great pride, I would correct them and say I was NOT an Aggie – but a Javelina. 

I love that I am a short drive from Kingsville and can visit whenever I am feeling nostalgic or just craving a Texicali.  It will always be my second home.


Joseph: Being a Javelina Engineer means to strive to make worthwhile contributions to society every single day, no matter how big or small. Being a Javelina Engineer means honoring the rich and respected history of TAMUK by constantly making the world a better, cleaner, and safer place for everybody around us.