In celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, the Department of Aerospace Engineering is highlighting some of our talented and diverse alumni through a series of stories sharing their journeys and advice for aspiring aerospace engineers.

University of Maryland Department of Aerospace Engineering alumnus Oliver Ortiz (‘14, M.S. ‘16) is currently with Northrop Grumman working as the Lead Systems Engineer for the Co-Manifested Vehicle (CMV), the integration of the HALO and power and propulsion element (PPE) for NASA’s Artemis mission. He is  also a manager of Systems Engineering, where he helps with career development for mid-career engineers.

“I get to go to work and build habitats for the Moon, which is what I did in my work at UMD,” said Ortiz. “It’s a dream come true.”

Where/How did you get started on your Aerospace Engineering journey?           

I was always fascinated with space and the universe as a child. I thought I wanted to be an astronomer until I met one in college and realized I didn’t. They pointed me to aerospace engineering, and it was a perfect fit.

Who/what inspires you?            

My dad has always been a source of inspiration. He came from El Salvador and worked hard to give me and my siblings an opportunity to succeed. He adopted me when I was young, so he showed me how selfless, caring, and driven someone can be despite their background or circumstances.

What has helped you succeed in your Aero journey?     

Support from my family and friends. I didn’t have a traditional path to college, nor did I have a traditional experience during college. I was a commuter and never lived on campus, so it was very helpful to experience that with others like me.

What advice would you offer current students?               

Every single person, even in the highest positions, has started where you are, and they probably never believed they’d be where they are. So go for it, you’ll be pleasantly surprised how far you make it.

What have been some of your greatest personal/professional successes?           

I was able to go to a RASC-AL competition as an industry participant and a recruiting manager. This was about eight years after I was a student competitor and got hired for an internship position. It was surreal to return and see how far I’d come. And I want others to experience the same things I have.

Ortiz with Family

Ortiz with his family during the department's honors convocation, from left to right: his father David, mother Claudia, wife Jessica, Ortiz and his sister Elizabeth.


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September 14, 2023

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