Alumni Focus: Pedro De La Torre, Ph.D. 2014 - Marine Science

Pedro De La Torre describes himself as someone who is proactive and enjoys working in science and sharing what he learns. De La Torre, an autonomous marine operations engineer, graduated from KAUST in 2014 with a Ph.D. in marine science, and currently works at the applied Underwater Robotics Laboratory (AURlab) at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and the University of Tromsø (UiT) in Norway.

“I joined KAUST for the adventure of living in Saudi Arabia because the University has the Red Sea next to it and it is a new, modern university with many opportunities to learn,” De La Torre said of joining KAUST from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education in Mexico City in January of 2010.

“KAUST helped in shaping my current life in almost all aspects. I had the opportunity to learn about different fields in marine science and choose the one I liked best. I learned about a niche for developing technology to assist scientists to make discoveries. It was a five-year, intense learning lifestyle. I had excellent professors at KAUST and their teachings have been a key help in the field that I currently work in,” he continued.

In his current role, De La Torre takes care of marine research vehicles and assists in the design and manufacture of new marine equipment. His skills have allowed him to participate in research projects such as Kon-Tiki2—the goal of which was to show that primitive balsa wood rafts loaded with modern equipment can be sailed across long distances (from Peru to Easter Island) and to collect scientific data in the southeast Pacific.

He is currently involved in a project called Arctic ABC with the University of Tromsø, where he works with colleagues to monitor ice layers in the North Pole.

“My time at KAUST helped me to develop communication skills useful to link scientists that study the Arctic region and engineers that build machines,” he said.

De La Torre’s advice to current KAUST students is to have a plan for what you do after you are finished at KAUST and to be ready for what comes after it.

“You have to be patient and constant when applying for what you want,” he said.

- By David Murphy, KAUST News