APS Bridge Program Grad Finds Success (2024)

Fernand Torres-Davila was five years old when he first saw the world clearly. With thick lenses in his new glasses, he gazed up and spotted individual stars.

Torres-Davila was amazed not just by what the world looked like from his “fresh point of view,” but by the fact that a seemingly simple innovation — curved glass fitted in a frame — could have such a major impact. This, he says, sparked his early interest in science, an interest that would eventually lead him to enroll in an APS Bridge Program at the University of Central Florida (UCF) to pursue graduate studies in physics and, afterward, land a job as a Honeywell engineer.

Growing up in Puerto Rico, Torres-Davila was drawn to astronomy because of the stunning night sky, he says. Then, in high school, he took a physics class. “[My teacher] was eccentric — very passionate about the field,” he says. “It was a very fun class.” Torres-Davila realized he had a passion for the broader field of physics, not just astronomy. Around the same time, he developed an interest in electronics, robotics, and chemistry; picking one would be tough.

When it came time to plan for college, Torres-Davila made a list of “must-haves.” It included good physics and chemistry programs, as well as an observatory, he says. The Universidad de Puerto Rico, Humacao (UPRH) fit the bill, and it was only an hour’s drive from his family’s town, Bayamón.

In 2011, the summer before starting his undergraduate studies, Torres-Davila enrolled in advanced math courses, which catapulted him ahead in his first year of college. Once at UPRH, he enrolled in the Physics Applied to Electronics program, which allowed him to combine his interests.

His science classes used English textbooks, but class conversation and homework assignments were in Spanish — typical for undergraduate science courses in Puerto Rico, he says.

As the semesters progressed, Torres-Davila’s adviser, Luis G. Rosa, became one of his champions. Rosa guided him toward research experiences, first at UPRH, funded through the NIH-RISE program, and then at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. These experiences helped put Torres-Davila on track to a doctorate in the field.

But at the end of college, Torres-Davila still wasn’t sure. Was a doctoral program in physics for him? Rosa chimed in with words of encouragement. “He said, ‘you should definitely apply to grad school … You’ll have what it takes to get through,’” Torres-Davila explains.

Torres-Davila chose to enroll in the APS Bridge Program at UCF. He felt that a bridge program would offer more security and support, and UCF was an easy plane ride home to Puerto Rico. He also had extended family in Orlando. His aunt and uncle there “played a huge part in getting me through that transition,” he says. “They made me feel right at home.”

Still, “that first semester was really challenging,” he says. He reasoned that taking extra undergraduate courses at UCF might help him establish a “baseline.”

“I felt having the opportunity to take the undergrad courses ahead of the actual grad courses would make me feel more comfortable in pursuing [my master’s],” he says. “It definitely helped,” he says. When he enrolled in graduate physics courses in his second year, he felt better prepared.

The physics department was much larger at UCF than at UPRH, which had a “small but united feel.” His coursework changed, too: Now everything was in English, and group work in class wasn’t the same.

But Torres-Davila received encouragement from his family, as well as staff and faculty at UCF — especially his advisor, Laurene Tetard. And his aunt and uncle in Orlando “always made sure to say how proud they were,” he says.

For his master’s research, Torres-Davila studied how two-dimensional materials could drive catalytic reactions, like the hydrogenation of carbon dioxide into water and other useful chemical products. This work served as the basis for his doctoral research.

After passing his candidacy exam to continue in the UCF doctoral program, Torres-Davila sailed through the rest of his program. His research group was one of the best aspects of graduate school, he says.

“I always tried to keep track of what everyone was working on, so I could help out, and they did the same,” says Torres-Davila. And Tetard, his adviser, was “always looking out for what was best for us,” he says. “I have nothing but gratitude for her.”

After graduating with his doctorate in August 2021, he decided to take a short break. “I prioritized spending some time off to cool down my brain and see relatives I hadn’t seen in a while,” he says — including his new baby niece in Wisconsin.

After several months, Torres-Davila felt ready to tackle job applications head on. He landed a position as an Advanced Hardware Engineer at Honeywell, a Fortune 500 company that creates and manufactures technologies. “I was a lot more confident in my own abilities” going into the job than into grad school, he says, in part because, at Honeywell, he was building off the lab skills he’d been cultivating since college — over a decade of experience.

As a Honeywell hardware engineer, Torres-Davila works in electronics failure analysis for a division based out of Florida. “We’re given something that isn’t working, that should be,” he says, and “we have to figure out why.” He uses an array of lab techniques and equipment to chase down the root cause behind the failure in a single component, device, or circuit. It’s admittedly more complicated than the technology that first sparked his interest in science: eyeglasses.

What advice does Torres-Davila have for other young physicists? “Don’t be discouraged when stuff doesn’t go according to plan,” he says. “Everyone’s path is unique.”

APS Bridge Program Grad Finds Success (2024)


How much is the aps bridge program stipend? ›

Students who are selected by our APS Bridge Program will receive a Google Bridge fellowship for two years, $10,000 each year. Out-of-state students are eligible to apply for a reduction of their tuition from out-of-state to in-state tuition.

What is the ApS bridge program? ›

The APS Bridge Program addresses diversity gaps in graduate programs by providing a pathway to acceptance for students from underrepresented groups. Only a fraction of students from underrepresented groups with physics bachelors degrees go on to graduate programs.

What does bridge mean in college? ›

Bridge programs are offered to upper-level students in high school soon to be entering their first year of college. Bridge programs are also transitional programs for students who typically hold a two-year college degree and seek to obtain a four-year or graduate degree.

What is a bridge program in pharmaceutical? ›

When patients are unable to get their prescription covered due to an expired prior authorization (PA), lack of formulary placement or change in insurance coverage, a manufacturer-sponsored bridge or quickstart program provides a lifeline to patients to help them get started on a therapy that can improve their quality ...

How much is the bridge program at Clemson? ›

The program fee covers academic success programs, health care services, Orientation, campus recreation, student activities and overall administrative costs of the program by Clemson and Tri-County. The program fee is $2,384 ($1,217 in the Fall and $1,167 in the Spring semester).

Does College of Charleston have a bridge program? ›

Charleston Bridge is a partnership between the College of Charleston and Trident Technical College (TTC) in Charleston, SC. This opportunity is an invitation-only program for first year students who are residents of South Carolina.

What is a bridge master's degree? ›

Bridge Programs invite promising senior undergraduates or bachelor degree recipients in the physical sciences (astronomy, chemical engineering, chemistry, geoscience, physics, or closely related fields) to participate in one-to-two year transitional graduate programs or traditional graduate programs.

What is the bridge to Phd program at UCLA? ›

Program description

The Competitive Edge program is an intensive, six-week, full-time bridge program for newly admitted, entering doctoral students from underrepresented backgrounds. Each Competitive Edge Fellow will work on a summer research project under the guidance of a faculty mentor.

Does Penn State have a bridge program? ›

The Nittany Scholars Summer Bridge Program's goal is to increase the likelihood that you will graduate and earn your Penn State degree on time with the potential for significant savings in tuition and fees. Nittany Scholars Summer Bridge orientation will be held on Monday, June 24, 2024.

How many stages are in college Bridge? ›

The English curriculum for the Texas College Bridge course is broken down into two parts: Stage 1 and Stage 2.

What happens in bridge course? ›

A bridging course is a university-preparation course with an academic curriculum that is offered to mature students as a means of preparing for the intellectual challenges of a university education, successful completion of which is recognized as a basis of admission to the University.

What are the most important and unique elements of the Bridge program? ›

Bridge programs assist students in obtaining the necessary academic, employability, and technical skills through three required components—contextualized instruction, career development, and support services.

What is bridge in healthcare? ›

The Bridge Model improves transitions of care by utilizing master's-educated social workers in a care-coordinator role. The model emphasizes care continuity and interdisciplinary teamwork.

Who is eligible for the CDC Bridge Program? ›

The Bridge Access Program will cover adults 18 years or older without health insurance and adults whose health insurance does not fully cover COVID-19 vaccines from providers in their network.

What is patient bridge? ›

Patient Bridge is a cloud-based patient engagement platform. Bridging the gap between you and your patients through smarter communications. Available for R4+ and Sensei Cloud.

What is the bridge program at Clemson? ›

Bridge to Clemson offers a challenging academic experience for first-year students and a plethora of resources to help you succeed. Supplemental Instruction, professional advising and a comprehensive Orientation weekend are program-specific academic benefits you will enjoy in the Bridge Program.

What is the bridge program at Iupui? ›

Bridge helps you transition from being a high school student to a freshman university student. All international freshman undergraduates admitted for fall semesters are expected to attend (Summer Bridge Program is not offered for spring admission).

Where is the Clemson Bridge Program? ›

Please Note: The Bridge to Clemson program is located on our Pendleton Campus: 7900 Hwy 76, Pendleton, SC 29670.

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