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Join USF College of Engineering in celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September 15 - October 15. We will be highlighting Hispanic faculty and students throughout the month.

Faculty Spotlight - Hispanic Heritage Month: Marbin Pazos Revilla

Marbin Pazos-Revilla received PhD degree from Tennessee Technological University with focus areas on cybersecurity, secure authentication in electric vehicles and internet of things security. Marbin has published and presented works in areas of 
internet of things, cybersecurity, and engineering education; and was the recipient of the Best Paper Award in the 2016 Annual Conference of the North American Fuzzy Information Processing Society (NAFIPS), and co-authored grants such as Tennessee Tech’s US Mission to Cuba Grant funded by the US Department of State.

Marbin Headshot

Marbin Pazos-Revilla, Assistant Professor of Instruction and Systems Administrator, Department of Computer Science & Engineering.

Marbin has contributed to advancing engineering education with the use of virtualization and other technologies like MoLE-SI (Mobile Learning Environment and Systems Infrastructure). He was awarded the Tennessee Tech’s Engineering Award for Innovation and Creativity in 2012 and was the recipient of the 2019 Tennessee Tech Outstanding Professional Award. Marbin currently serves as Director of Infrastructure for the CSE Department at USF, as Interim Coach of the CyberHerd competitive team, and faculty advisor for the Whitehatters Computer Security Club (WCSC).

Q: What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?

A: "To me, it means that there is the recognition and celebration of the contributions that the Hispanic community has played, currently plays, and will continue to play in building the freedoms, opportunities, and privileges we enjoy today in our country. Celebrating the achievements of this community invigorates and empowers us to do more."

Q: Can you discuss your background and journey to becoming an engineer and professor?

A: "I always tried to set up a path that allowed me to understand the world around us and contribute with solutions to the betterment of our society. My background and journey to becoming an engineer and professor serves as a reflection of that. 

I could go back to my upbringing in Cuba and the inspiration and support my parents and grandparents always provided as part of that journey very early on. Still, we could be filling pages and pages with those motivational stories that led me to pursue an engineering career.

Let’s skip ahead and jump to my studies of Automation Engineering back in Havana. The level of sacrifice that my classmates and I faced during those years during the university years was grueling and constantly testing our commitment to pursue an engineering degree. 

During that period, or ”special period,” as it is more commonly known, we faced frequent power outages that typically extended from 6 to 8 hours at a time. Establishing any meaningful study routine or preparing for exams was difficult, but we managed to do it. Those adversities and challenges I faced helped me create a natural resiliency and determination that, over time, helped me overcome obstacles and keep a positive mindset when faced with challenges, regardless of their nature. Back then, during my first years of engineering studies, our primary references were “Automatic Control Systems” by Benjamin Khuo, “Modern Control Engineering” by Katsuhiko Ogata, and “Modern Control Systems,” coauthored by none other than Robert Bishop, our College Engineering Dean. Little did I know then that I would have the privilege to meet him personally and work under his leadership decades later. 

My hunger for knowledge and advancements did not stop after I finished my studies in Cuba. I migrated to the US, and the access to the vast amount of learning resources I encountered only served as a catalyst to advance my education, seek a terminal degree and help support my family. Initially, as I was adapting to the new society and culture, reading and learning about a variety of career paths I could pursue, I decided to seek an information technology degree as the path to obtain a university degree in the US, which led me to graduate from Barry University, in Miami. 

That degree helped me get a full-time job at Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville, TN, leading the tech support of the college of engineering, which I had the privilege to enjoy for many years. While working there, I did not take a break from my studies; I earned my master’s degree and finished my PhD, all of that while keeping up with a demanding full-time job and my family responsibilities. Within twenty years after migrating to the US, I reached my goal of becoming a professor. And here I am now, as a professor at USF. This institution holds an extraordinary meaning to me, as it is the university that welcomed my mother in the nineties as part of a conference. Here I am in Tampa, a city that represents so much to the Hispanic community and Cubans in particular. I am unsure if this is the American Dream, but to me, it is as close as it can get."

Q: How do you bring your own unique background to your role/responsibilities in your professional life?

A: "My background in automation engineering, combined with my expertise in information technologies, cybersecurity, and the formation I acquired during my studies, gave me a different perspective in my teaching and problem-solving approach. Honestly, I believe, too, that the frequent need to find solutions under adversity cultivated an inclination to solve problems with an open mindset, seeking first simple solutions that can help solve a larger or more complex problem over time, always with some humor and joy in the process, regardless of how difficult the situation might look at first."

Q: Can you discuss some of the mentors you have had throughout your career & education? How have they inspired and motivated you?

A: "I certainly had several. However, Dr. Ambareen Siraj, founder of WiCyS and Program Director at NSF, was the most influential during my career and education. She played a pivotal role in my education and career. Without her constant, unwavering support and guidance during my Master’s career, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I am honored to be her first graduate student, and I will never forget her mentorship and impact on my education. 

I would also include Hosi Karzai, Principal Engagement Manager at ServiceNow, Dr. Vahid Motevalli, currently serving as Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at PennState, Harrisburg, and Dr. Mohamed Mahmoud, my main PhD advisor. The diversity of thought, the inspiration they provided me to keep advancing, and the push to always try beyond my comfort zone were critical during my graduate studies, for which I remain forever grateful. Some might be surprised that neither of them happens to be Hispanic, but perhaps that reflects how I embrace and welcome diversity in life and in everything I do."

Q: What are you most proud of regarding your Hispanic heritage? 

A: "I am proud of so many things, the achievements and contributions of our Hispanic community in the US, particularly here, in the Tampa Bay area, and at USF, where our community plays such an important role. I am constantly reminded about the roles we play as faculty in forging the new generation of engineering students, many of them first-generation college students, leading and supporting their families with a great desire to advance their education, address global challenges, and improve the errors of the previous generations.

Considering the roles we play and the achievements of the community we represent, we have an opportunity to increase our Hispanic faculty representation in the college and the university at large.

What else I am proud of? I wouldn’t be Hispanic if I didn’t mention our rich music and culture; our food, especially our Cuban sandwich here in Tampa; our accents, the strong bonds that bring us together with our family and friends; the variety of colors we represent with our flags, and our contributions to a better and more diverse society, to cite a few."

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