Engineer Carries on Family Traditions

Home Means Nevada for Mechanical Engineer

Alex Hartman’s all about carrying on family traditions. Not only is he a University of Nevada, Reno graduate, like his father and brother, but he followed them into engineering, too.

That said, Alex likes to shake things up. So, he chose mechanical engineering as his profession instead of civil engineering—like his father and brother. And, boy, has his career in aerospace been a blast… literally!

Working as a Mechanical Engineer

Alex works for Valley Tech Systems, an aerospace engineering company that specializes in C4ISR systems, aeronautics and propulsion, and engineering services and consulting. Alex gets to work on the cutting edge of solid-state rocket propulsion: “We use propulsion in positioning devices. A satellite in space needs to orient itself in a certain way. Thrusters apply the needed force.”

How did he get started in the cutthroat aerospace industry? His path was definitely circuitous. After working on-campus for UNR athletic ticket sales, Alex was ready for a change.

He moved into undergraduate research in the Composite and Intelligent Materials Lab in the mechanical engineering department. Still feeling restless, he searched UNR’s career blog for opportunities more attuned to his interests. He found an internship with Valley Tech six months before graduating, fell in love with the research they conduct and was officially brought on board following graduation.

Nevada Born and Bred

Best of all? Valley Tech is located in the heart of Reno. After graduating from UNR, Alex considered many locations for employment. But he quickly realized that life in Northern Nevada comes with benefits unknown in cities of comparable size.

As he explains, “When I was interviewing in other places, I didn’t like the thought of a 45-minute commute. Or, a two to three-hour drive just to get to a snowboarding spot. Here, I can drive across all of Reno and Sparks in 25 minutes. I can basically get anywhere in 30 minutes, including a ski resort!”

Why does Alex love Reno so much? While it’s hard for him to name just one thing, his answers revolve around the long list of outdoor activities afforded by the Truckee Meadows. “I love Reno because it offers so many types of activities. There’s plenty of outdoor stuff in the summer—hanging out at lakes, boating, camping… In the winter, I get a season pass and go snowboarding every other weekend.”

Loving Life in Reno

But there’s more to the area than just its outdoor offerings. The Reno-Sparks area boasts countless hotspots for sampling top-notch cuisine and grabbing a handcrafted cocktail or locally brewed beer. Alex enjoys a drink with friends at the Eddy Beer Garden, next to the gorgeous Truckee River. And he’s a huge fan of Food Truck Friday at Idlewild Park, where delectable eats and a chill park vibe make for the perfect summer destination.

Besides food and drinks, Alex loves catching a film with friends at the Galaxy Theater at Legends in Sparks. And he gets his fill of sports with regular trips to area golf courses and Reno Aces baseball games. He has yet to kayak or raft the Truckee, but he’s still got time.

When asked why a mechanical engineer should consider Reno/Sparks, he replies, “Reno is a great place for engineers to live because the technology industry is expanding and growing, providing the area with many different opportunities. For example, several years ago, Nevada was selected as a top test area for drones, which then brought in new companies looking to expand their unmanned systems. Similar reasons brought the Propulsion Division of Valley Tech Systems to the area from California.”

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