Mercedes-Based Company Spurs Interest In Robotics & Engineering
Heriberto Reynoso built his first robot when he was 14.
The Brownsville native always had a fascination with tinkering and figuring out how to make things work. In college, he majored in computer science with an emphasis on artificial intelligence. Reynoso landed a coveted internship one summer during his college years at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in California.
He could have gone anywhere after graduating from the University of Texas-Brownsville. Reynoso decided to stay in the Rio Grande Valley and start his own business, with an eye on what he calls “community outreach.’’
Reynoso started on a shoestring in Brownsville, but realized he needed his fledgling Reybotics to have a more central location. He chose Mercedes. The Economic Development Corporation of Mercedes helped Reynoso set up his business at the city’s industrial park.
Reybotics location in the heart of the Valley proved to be ideal. Reynoso would use his Mercedes location as a staging point to set up robotic camps and student workshops in 32 school districts from Laredo to Port Isabel to Raymondville.
“I can cater to the entire Valley from Mercedes,’’ he said. “Being right next to the expressway in the middle of the Valley gives me quick access west to Hidalgo (County), or going the other direction to Cameron County.’’
Reynoso would partner with the Region One Education Service Center and its GEAR UP program to reach thousands of students across South Texas in encouraging them to develop an interest in mathematics, physics, science and engineering. Careers are plentiful in all of those fields, he tells students, ranging from engineering to computer programing to an array of technical fields. Companies like Google, Yahoo and NASA are looking for employees with high-level skills in all of those areas, he said.
“There’s thousands of students doing what I did years ago in high school,’’ Reynoso said. “There’s lots more opportunities now. We need to prepare our kids for the high levels of skills that are required in today’s world.’’
Reynoso makes all of those points and more during the robotic camps he holds at 55 middle schools across South Texas. He emphasizes the practicality of what he’s teaching in the areas of robotics and technology. Those fields, he tells students, can be used to solve real world problems.
He cites the example of how Reybotics worked with the city of Weslaco to use robotics to identify and repair blockages in drainage pipes. He also points to Reybotics work with officials in Cameron and Hidalgo counties to improve outdoor lighting at colonias. It’s a project that utilizes electrical engineering and programming to set up lighting that is solar powered with Reybotics working to extend the battery life of those units.
Reynoso and Reybotics took on real world issues in a major way recently when the Mercedes-based company began manufacturing and selling face shield masks for medical professionals. The shortage in personal protection equipment has become dire nationwide as doctors and nurses work to treat patients who are infected with the coronavirus.
“As a company, we’re heavily investing into our machines to increase productivity and running them, at times, 24 hours a day,’’ Reynoso said. “The support from the local (medical) community has been overwhelmingly positive. They are the real heroes who day in and day out are testing and treating patients.’’
- Ricardo D. Cavazos