The faculty who teach students in Management and Engineering for Manufacturing (MEM) come from around the world and bring with them culture, diversity, experiences and expertise – a combination that is as unique as each person. Professor Manuel Nunez does not disappoint, letting us see a glimpse into the life experiences that shaped him as an instructor and researcher at the University of Connecticut.
Professor Nunez came to UConn from the second largest city in Costa Rica, called Alajuela. He still has friends and family there that he misses, but says he also really misses the soccer. Alajuela is home to a professional soccer team, La Liga, of which Nunez says he is an avid fan.
Even while missing home, Nunez always wanted to come to the United States, even as a young child. He has always enjoyed US culture, music, values and way of life, so that made adjusting to the American way of life a little easier for him. He loves the culture, so he has always felt at home here. He says the biggest adjustment was driving in bad weather conditions in New England winters.
Nunez is a big professional sports fan in America too. His favorite teams are the Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Lakers, and the New England Patriots.
For fun, Nunez likes to read, collect and play board games, collect playing card and Tarot decks and Star Trek memorabilia. He reads about two books per week and his favorite reading genre is science fiction. He is also a Star Trek fan. He also likes to read about history and general science as well. He also enjoys mental challenges as a mathematician, and he assembles scale model kits and solves various puzzles.
As a faculty member and researcher, Nunez enjoys contributing new ideas and concepts, and he especially enjoys transferring his knowledge to his students.
“It is a very fulfilling lifestyle,” Nunez says.
“As a researcher, it is very exciting to face challenging problems and try to find new solutions to those problems,” he says. “As part of this process, I learn more about new subjects and methodologies.”
He recalls as a freshmen in college himself, one of his professors told him that if he constantly wonders about how to improve things, he should study Operations Research (OR). Nunez took that idea and found he really enjoyed the mathematical aspects of OR – proving theorems, developing algorithms and creating new models of everyday situations.
Nunez teaches Computers in Manufacturing for the MEM program, Adaptive Business Intelligence (ABI) for the MS BAPM program and the Operations Management Seminar for the OPIM doctoral program.
“I have taught the computers in manufacturing class for more than 20 years and it has evolved a lot,” he says. “Students like it because it teaches them skills they can readily use in their jobs, internships and senior design projects.”
Nunez says he is not a specialist on a very narrow research field and that his work touches on many different subjects. He says he sees a promising future in studying the business implications and applications of using cutting edge technologies such as quantum computing. “Through my lifetime I have witnessed the profound effects that the arrival of new computer technologies had in business and society in general. I believe that eventually quantum computing will become more prevalent and have similar effects.”
Nunez says his favorite part of his work is interacting with people, teaching young people and seeing them transitioning into professionals, working with stimulating colleagues, and appreciating that the university is a place for open-mindedness, research and learning.