February 2016, Volume 20, Number 1

Making Their Mark

A Conductor of Innovation

José Estabil
José Estabil

MDC alumnus José Estabil is sought the world over for his visionary acumen for converting technologies into innovative, marketable applications. An engineer by trade, the director of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Skoltech Initiative holds 10 patents in semiconductor technology, as well as numerous titles including thought leader, Brown University trustee and MDC Idea Center founding advisor – none of which, he said, would have been possible without his experience as a dual enrollment student at Miami Dade College.

“I had always been a good student, but I never thought I would be competitive because I was Latino: I didn’t look like the smart kids on TV or in honors programs at school,” Estabil said. “MDC was the first place I felt highly competitive. I became the kid to beat.”

Estabil’s impressive trajectory wasn’t mapped from a place of privilege. Though educated, his parents were middle-class workers who moved the family from Cuba to the U.S. when José was 4.

Estabil’s intellect was apparent from an early age, and he earned straight A’s in academics all through school. But, “I was a huge disciplinary problem,” he said – a textbook case of a highly gifted, under-stimulated youngster.

Lacking adequate academic advising, Estabil had taken regular classes in junior and senior high, only to find out that he wouldn’t be able to go to college without a sequence of higher-level math and science courses. That’s when MDC entered the picture.

“MDC’s was the first real lab I worked in,” he said.

It also ignited a lifelong passion for physics thanks to Professor Joseph Boyle, who “created an environment where physics was fun and cool.”

From MDC, Estabil went on to major in physics at Brown University. After graduating, he began working at IBM, where he developed industry-changing technologies. After years in research and development, he would move on to hold high-level administrative positions at KLA-Tencor, Schlumberger and tau-Metrix, where he served as president before taking on his current position at MIT.

Estabil credits his success to his first college classes. “I would not be where I am now if it were not for my experience at MDC.”

— MR


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