Hernandez, head teacher and director of the T-Tech Academy of Technology & Engineering at Tustin High School, began his career in the semiconductor industry working in applications and technical support and later as a sales representative for companies like Intel and AMD. Despite finding success in a highly completive environment, he decided to make a career change and become a teacher. He earned a master’s degree in education and teaching credentials in mathematics and engineering technologies. After 13 years, he left the electronics industry and began his new career in education where his start as a teacher would coincide with a rising national emphasis in STEM education.
Soon after being hired by Tustin High School, he was asked to lead the development of a new engineering academy model, meant to introduce students to multiple engineering and computer science disciplines. Four years later, he was no longer teaching math, having switched completely to engineering and becoming the academy's lead instructor. Over the subsequent 12 years, hundreds of his students have benefited from a hands-on, immersive technology education previously unavailable at most public schools. His methods are a break from the traditional academic models and include relevant technology skills like 3D modeling, material science, electronics, fabrication methods, coding and more. Many of his students also take part in engineering summer internships, giving them an authentic tech industry experience, at places like Boeing, UPS, EON Reality, Edwards Life Sciences, Medtronic and others. Hernandez has also been instrumental in the development and implementation of interscholastic engineering competitions throughout Orange County like the OC Maker Challenge, UCI's Energy Invitational vehicle competition, and STEM on the Sidelines in cooperation with UCI and the LA Chargers football team.
In the 16 years since becoming a teacher, Hernandez has been recognized with numerous awards, including Tustin High School's Teacher of the Year, Orange County's Engineering Teacher of the Year, OC Parenting Magazine's High School Teacher of the Year and California's Career Technical Education Teacher of the Year. Under his direction, Tustin High School's engineering program has become a model for STEM and CTE education. The T-Tech Academy has been named Orange County's Best High School Engineering Program by the Orange County Engineering Council and was also selected as a winner of the Golden Bell Award by the California School Board Association. His students have gone on to study engineering at all UC and Cal State campuses, and many of the country's top private universities. Today, you'll find graduates from his program working for companies like Boeing, NASA, Google, UPS, JPL, SpaceX and many more.
Hernandez is also a winner of the Lemelson-MIT Excite Award and was an InvenTeams grant recipient, a partnership between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Lemelson Foundation. He has since become one of LMIT's Master Teachers, and visits the MIT campus on a regular basis guiding teachers and students alike in the process of Invention Education. As a nod to his alma mater, you can email him by simply using the word "Anteater" with the traditional MIT email domain.
Hernandez arrived in the United States at the age of 12 and was the first in his family to graduate from high school and college. He credits his time at UCI as the most formative experience of his life and constantly shares advice and stories from his time in college with his students. Today, his immigrant success story, industry experience and passion for learning make him uniquely qualified as a teacher and role model for the next generation of engineers and scientists.
In his spare time, Hernandez plays golf, builds electronic gadgets and fixes things that don't need fixing. He also builds and refurbishes electric guitars, unfortunately leaving little time for actual practice.