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A Valladolid man awarded in the United States for his "promising career" in renewable energy

Raul at awards ceremoy

He is young and has a promising career. Reasons why the West Virginia University Institute of Technology has chosen him to award the award of best alumnus 2022. What for Raúl Martín Valencia is "a pride", for the university where he finished his studies is "the beginning of a successful career".

"I am a normal kid, from Delicias and Medina de Rioseco, who was lucky enough to access a scholarship to study in the United States," says Raúl. He is of the so-called Olympic generation, as he was born in 1992, and lived in the Valladolid neighborhood of Delicias until he was 18 years old. There he attended the San Viator school and the Grail Public Institute. His parents, Carlos and Alicia, an electrician and cleaner, have instilled in him since childhood the importance of studying. "I've always wanted to study and I also liked playing football, but I knew I wasn't going to eat about sport," he acknowledges.

Raúl's decision to study Civil Engineering has its origin, as he explains, in that his father's boss was an engineer and "wanted to be like him." At school, in addition, he was told that he was good at mathematics and physics, so he did not want to waste the opportunity. His initial option was Naval Engineering, but he was studying in Galicia and made him discard that idea. "I didn't want to stay in Valladolid but I also didn't want to go very far so I could go back whenever I wanted, and in the end I went to the United States."

His passion, football, was what gave him the push to study in America. He decided to study Civil Engineering in Santander and a good friend told him that there was a sports scholarship to combine football and studies in the United States. "I told my parents, they did their accounts and they saw that with the scholarship it would cost them the same as studying in Santander or on the other side of the Atlantic, so I barely thought about it and, in August 2012, after studying two years in Cantabria, I left," he recalls.

Raul and family pose at graduation

Crossing the pond

The change from Valladolid to Santander was "easy" for Raúl because he combined it with football and every two or three weekends he returned to his home and his town, but the jump from the pond was "something harder". He thought that his level of English was good because the grade he obtained in selectivity, an 8.5, made him see that, but he was wrong. "I arrived thinking that I was going to eat the world and none of that, my level was rather low and I had to put the batteries to understand something," he explains. His life at that time was different and he only returned to Valladolid at Christmas and in summer. In addition, he remembers that the American university system is different and made him feel more integrated because through football he represented the university. "I played football and studied, and the teachers gave me all the facilities to combine sport and studies," he acknowledges. Raúl lived in a university residence but on weekends he was left alone and a classmate invited him to his house. "I remember spending the holidays with them and now I'm still keeping in touch; they're like my second family."

His first job after finishing his degree in the United States was in a consultancy that designed roads, but he did not like the number of hours he spent on the computer. "The opportunity came out to work in Belgium in a renewable energy company specialized in offshore wind and I accepted without thinking," he says. After seven years in Virginia, in 2018 he began his adventure in Europe and landed in Antwerp.

In his current position, Raúl leads a group of workers with different knowledge - engineers, lawyers, insurance brokers - during the bidding process of offshore wind farms, with the aim of ensuring that his company is the contractor of said project in other countries. This young man from Valladolid confesses that English has "opened the doors for him to be able to work anywhere in the world and in any company".

Raul at work in the field

Commitment to renewables

In his opinion, renewable energies have a lot of future, but in Spain it is more complex to adapt the work he does in Belgium. "I am dedicated to putting windmills in the sea because in the countries of northern Europe the waters near the coast are not very deep and the pillars can be put well, but in Spain you still have to develop a floating technology because nothing that you separate from the coast there is a depth of 100 meters and it is not viable to submerge it so much", concrete. Therefore, there is still no viable floating project that allows this technology to be implemented in our country, but Raúl believes that "it is about to fall".

Receiving this award has caught him by surprise because it was his girlfriend and his brother, also an engineer, who presented their candidacy. "I knew the award existed but when they wrote to me from the university to tell me that the former student awarded this year was me I couldn't believe it. At first I was floating, with a lot of joy and excitement."

Now, after collecting the award last Friday, he acknowledges that in the speech he said something in Spanish so that his parents, who followed him on the Internet, could understand something.