We already know that Texas Engineering faculty and students are changing the world, but behind the scenes, staff and administrators are the ones keeping things running smoothly. From alumni outreach to student life programming, staff members dedicate themselves to improving and advancing the Cockrell School. Read about two of our many “unsung heroes,” and find out what inspires them to build a better Texas Engineering experience for the next generation.


Mary De Sopo

Head shot of Mary De Sopo, sitting with hands rested on table, glass doors in the backgroundTitle: Associate Academic Advisor
Years at UT Austin: 3

When Mary De Sopo took a position as academic advisor for the Ramshorn Scholars Program, a new student success program in the Cockrell School of Engineering established to help first- and second-year engineering undergraduates transition to the demands of college life, she also became a de-facto community builder.

Armed with degrees in sociology and higher education administration, De Sopo focuses on helping students navigate their initial years and find the right support resources available to them, such as reserved seats in select first-year courses and access to leadership opportunities, first-year interest groups and mentors. Along the way, De Sopo encourages them to work together and help one another.

“I want our students to have a support network that really benefits them, so it’s gratifying to see them working with and inspiring each other,” De Sopo said. “When I see that happen, and when those student-to-student connections start to get stronger throughout the academic year, I feel like I’m doing my job.”

Her advice to students is simple but impactful: “Take advantage of every opportunity to maximize your experience at UT Austin. If there is a resource offered to you and there’s a chance you could benefit, seize it.”

It is so exciting when I see our students become active, supportive and engaged campus citizens when they come into our offices and tell us, ‘I just applied to be an engineering ambassador or a summer camp leader,’ that’s the best moment.”


Steve Ferraro

Steve Ferraro leans against table while smiling and looking off-camera, series of 3D printer in the background, wall of windows to the right

Title: Manager, Longhorn Maker Studios
Years at UT Austin: 17

It doesn’t take long to see that veteran technician Steve Ferraro, with his expertise, enthusiasm and easy-going disposition, is the perfect fit to manage the Cockrell School’s popular makerspace. He spends all day every day training, helping and encouraging students to create, build and collaborate—so much so that he often forgets to eat lunch.

“My favorite part is seeing that light bulb turn on in the students,” Ferraro said. “Whether helping them work on a piece of equipment or figure out how to make something actually work properly, being with the students and seeing their creativity advance and come to light is extremely rewarding.”

Ferraro is the go-to for students using the Longhorn Maker Studios, which has a new 30,000-square-foot home inside the now open Engineering Education and Research Center. He is often seen brainstorming with students on their class projects, team designs and early-stage prototypes, while also teaching them how to use the high-tech equipment and materials available to them in the space.

It’s the most fulfilling job I’ve had so far in my career- getting to know these amazing students, working so closely with them and watching them bring their ideas to life.”

Texas Engineer Monogram