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Juan Paolo Mesa


Juan Paolo Mesa, a native of Colombia, was five years old when he moved with his family to Boston, MA and then settled in Watertown, MA, in 2005. After Juan graduated from Watertown High School in 2013, he enrolled in the automotive technology program at MassBay Community College to turn his passion for cars into a career. “I didn’t do that well in high school because, to be honest, I was headed down the wrong path,” said Juan. At MassBay, Juan turned things around and began focusing on his studies and planning his career path. He enjoyed his BMW classes and earned his Associate in Science degree in Automotive Technology in 2015. After graduation, Juan started working at Herb Chambers BMW in Boston, MA.

“I loved working at BMW in Boston, but I felt like I wasn’t making a big enough impact in the world around me. I really enjoy being outdoors, especially hiking and camping in the White Mountains in New Hampshire, and ever since I was a little kid, I’ve been interested in tinkering with technology, so I decided to return to MassBay to combine these interests by studying mechanical engineering with an emphasis on sustainable and clean energy. Mechanical engineering is not an easy field, and it challenges your technical skills. We could only live on this planet for about 80 or 90 years, so my main goal is to leave a positive impact on this world and on the people in it,” Juan added.

Juan credits his MassBay engineering professors, Marina Bograd and Laith Asfar, for their support and for helping him launch his career. “The professors at MassBay are amazing and incredibly supportive. They helped open doors for me and changed my perspective on life. I was able to participate in the Student STEM Expo, where I met Claire Duggan, Director of STEM Education at Northeastern University. She liked my engineering project and stopped to chat about the design. She told me about Northeastern University’s Student Pathways Opening World Energy Resources (S-POWER) Program, a scholarship funded by the National Science Foundation that supports transfer students from underrepresented backgrounds studying in the energy sector. It ended up being a perfect fit,” he said.

Juan transferred to Northeastern University in Boston, MA in 2017 and earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering with honors in May 2021. He was awarded a GEM Fellowship (Graduate Education for Minorities Ph.D. Engineering Fellowship) and attended Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburg, PA in fall 2021 to pursue his Ph.D. on fuel cell technologies. Juan’s future career goals include starting a company that will use new technology to bring alternative energy to developing countries, making them less dependent on fossil fuels.

“MassBay is a great opportunity for any student. It was my launchpad because from there, you really can go anywhere you want to go.”


Northeastern University | Student Pathways Opening World Energy Resources (S-POWER) Program, is a scholarship and career mentor program funded by the National Science Foundation. Funding from this grant is used towards scholarships, mentors, career development, and research experience opportunities for students who have an interest in transferring to 4-year institutions and plan to create innovations in sustainable energy.

Join the S-POWER program!

To apply and to find out more, contact MassBay engineering professor Marina Bograd:



Juan Paolo Mesa