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Enhancing Affordability: Robert Torres, BS '92

For more than 20 years, donor has supported high-need students

Robert Torres
“I want to be able to contribute so a student can afford to go to Wash U and so, once they arrive on campus, they can have the opportunities I had.”

As a high school student, Robert Torres, BS ’92, searched for a university that excelled in his chosen field of engineering and was also highly competitive in other academic areas. Washington University fit that bill, and the warm welcome of students and faculty during a campus visit confirmed his decision. A generous financial aid package “brought a Wash U education within my reach,” says Torres.

When he arrived on campus as a freshman in the fall of 1988, Torres found a school where he could pursue a wide variety of interests while still receiving a solid engineering education. “I was all over the place with my classes, and the chance to do that was pretty special,” he recalls, remembering courses in guitar, psychology, and social work.

“At the end of the day,” Torres says, “my education wasn’t about a specific course or subject. It was about learning how to learn, and at Washington University, I simply learned to think incredibly well.”

Torres was surrounded by classmates who studied subjects on an equally wide spectrum, which enriched his education greatly. In addition to their diverse interests, his fellow students came from many backgrounds, regions, and socioeconomic groups. “Having people from all over had a great impact on me,” Torres says. “It provided great diversity of thought and culture, and it opened my mind.”

As a senior, Torres had the opportunity to take a graduate-level course that inspired in him a passion for algorithms and system design. He went on to become a system engineer with a career in internet connectivity. “I learned that what I love about engineering is being able to break down a complex problem and understand it,” Torres says. “I love the simplicity on the other side of complexity.” Torres designs systems and creates algorithms for hardware and software at Hughes Network Systems, a company that creates internet connectivity in rural areas and developing countries. Bringing internet access to these places creates new opportunities for entrepreneurship and increases access to outside education. “Engineering is especially neat when you do it in an industry where you can benefit people’s lives,” Torres says. “That’s when it becomes very powerful for me.”

Torres has been a donor to the Annual Fund for the School of Engineering & Applied Science since his graduation in 1992. As a former scholarship student, he finds value in contributing to scholarships for students who, like him, could not otherwise attend Washington University. He also values the diversity this creates.

“I want to be able to contribute so that a student can afford to go to Wash U,” he says, “and so that, once they arrive on campus, they can have the opportunities I had.”

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