I was born in Houston, Texas, spent my elementary years in Murrieta, California, and then moved back to Houston for junior high and haven’t left Texas since. I never really had aspirations to go to college, much less graduate school, because no one in my family has received a college degree. I had big dreams of being a professional gamer, streaming on Twitch back in 2011 and 2012, but I knew I needed to work “a real job” to support my family.
I started going to community college (Lonestar) because of the cost associated with universities. While at Lonestar, I also worked full-time at HEB in the dairy department, spending 40 hours a week in a fridge, stocking milk products. After two years, I made the transfer to Texas A&M University for Industrial Engineering and juggled part time jobs while a full time student. On top of the 15-18 credit hour semesters, I worked 30+ hours a week at Best Buy as an installer for automotive accessories (sound systems, alarms, etc.), I worked as a machinist on campus 20+ hours a week (EDM, lathe, mill), and I worked as an undergraduate research assistant 20+ hours a week. As an undergraduate researcher, I felt extremely motivated to do a good job and represent myself and mentors the best I could. This did not go unnoticed, as I was asked to help with other students on many different projects. My senior year, I was offered a position as a doctoral student in materials science and engineering at Texas A&M.
As a doctoral student, my focus has always been on high throughput experiments and utilizing artificial intelligence in materials discovery. I spent 4 years developing a materials database (so far) and then implemented various machine learning techniques to analyze said database. In my research, it is critical that I take note of every detail during an experiment for tabulation into the database. Thus, nearly all steps of material synthesis and characterization is done myself.
Over the years, I have learned many different types of skills, but I value one skill I acquired more than others, perspective. Handling milk products in a fridge for a living was not fun, but someone had to do it. I thought of it as if I was helping feed hundreds of people a day, and it was my job to make sure no one went hungry, so I need to stock this milk and do my part. Looking at work this way has changed the way I think about many different positions I have held over the years. I have received a college diploma, I have had research projects with NASA, Boeing, ARL, LANL, an internship at NASA, and eventually I will receive my doctoral degree. I am extremely grateful for all the opportunities I have had, but I am most grateful for my position as a dairy worker, because none of these opportunities would have been possible without it. This is why I would rather be called “Former milkman William” instead of “Dr. Trehern” after receiving my doctoral degree. Perspective.
My hard skills set I have acquired over the years can be best broken down as seen below:
-Martensitic transformations in shape memory alloys
-Predicting material properties in shape memory alloys using machine learning
-Material database development and management
-Heat treatments and sealing
-Sample preparation (polishing, etching, etc)
-Tension and compression
Informatics and Statistics:
-Python, R, VBA
-Machine learning (XGB, ANN, SVM, GPR, etc.)
-Optimization (Bayesian, NSGA)
-Six-sigma, quality control