My Engineer's Notebook: Ruander Cardenas


Ruander Cardenas received the B.S, M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical engineering from Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, in 2007, 2009, and 2012, respectively. His graduate research work was primarily focused on multiphase and multicomponent mini- and microscale heat and mass transport.  He is currently a senior engineer with the Printhead Research and Development Group at Xerox Corp. in Wilsonville, OR, where he works in the development and fabrication of printhead subsystems using laser micromachining equipment. For ASME, Ruander has been a presenting author of a number of conference papers. He was also first author on seven articles for diverse journals, including two for the ASME Journal of Heat Transfer. Currently, Ruander holds one of nine 2013-2014 ASME Early Career Leadership Intern Program to Serve Engineering (ECLIPSE) positions and he also serves as a technical paper reviewer for the heat transfer community.

What’s inside your engineer’s notebook?

A little bit of everything. Short calculations, action items, diagrams and schematics, meeting outcomes, data collection, sketches, and things like that. I see my notebook as a playground where I am able to freely capture what’s on my mind. I am particularly careful to date all information and also record information about circumstances. For example, why am I doing this? Did anything unusual occur? I also write down those things that, at the moment, seem obvious and easy to remember because, more often than not, they are easy to forget. 

Whose notebook would you most like to peek into? Why?

It is hard to pick a particular individual, since I appreciate the work of many. However, I would like to peek into Isaac Newton’s notebook. It is remarkable how in his early 20s, Newton developed most of what we know today as calculus among other very important fields of classical mechanics.

How and when did you know you wanted to become an engineer?

My father is a mechanical engineer and he inspired me to pursue a career in engineering. I always admired and valued the skills that my dad had gained in the field of engineering and the diverse projects he works on. I started considering a career in engineering for myself during my late high school years.

Ruander Cardenas



What's the most exciting project you've ever worked on?

I have worked on a variety of interesting projects. In 2012, I had the opportunity to help a friend and mentor, Dr. Jon Harrison at Applied Dynamics Laboratories in Portland, Ore., perform drop tower testing for NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) mission. Dr. Harrison studied the nutation characteristics of the spin-stabilized stage of the mission. The satellite was successfully launched on September 6th, 2013, and has been a great scientific resource since. This project was particularly exciting for me because the outreach extends beyond our planet earth.

What do you think you’d be doing if you hadn’t become an engineer?

I grew up on a farm in Costa Rica. I really enjoy farming and working outside closely with nature. I would probably be doing that if I had not become an engineer.

What’s your favorite activity when you’re not working?

I enjoy spending time outdoors fishing, boating and hiking. I also enjoy visiting new places and learning new things.

Was there a book or a movie that piqued your interest in science or inspired you to become an engineer?

MacGyver. I watched this TV show growing up and it always inspired me to be more creative with the resources I have around me.

Who are your heroes, either within the engineering profession or in the rest of your life?

My parents are my biggest inspiration. I owe everything I am to them. In the field of engineering, my Dad has been a big source of motivation. Another hero of mine is compatriot Dr. Franklin Chang Diaz for his outstanding career as an engineer, scientist, astronaut, and more recently, entrepreneur.

What’s the most meaningful or rewarding aspect of being connected to engineering?

The world is moving fast. Everyday new discoveries are made and new technologies are developed. Being an engineer, I get a front-row seat in this amazing journey where I do not only get to see what is going on but, I also help to make it happen.

What does ASME mean to you?

For me, ASME means opportunities. ASME provides numerous opportunities to grow personally and professionally with activities and programs like conferences, technical communities, competitions, technical seminars, and Leadership and Development programs to mention a few. Perhaps one of the most valuable opportunities that ASME has to offer is networking. Through ASME I have been able to establish strong connections and friendships nationally and globally. ASME connects engineers together and allows the use of shared engineering knowledge for the benefit and advancement of the global community.

Being an engineer, I get a front-row seat in this amazing journey where I do not only get to see what is going on but, I also help to make it happen.

Ruander Cardenas


February 2014