Ernest Aragon at the Great Wall of China
Recently Ernest traveled to the Great Wall of China, proudly wearing his UT Permian Basin gear.

Ernest Aragon was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona and transferred to UT Permian Basin in spring of 2017 to study engineering.  Recently Ernest traveled to the Great Wall of China, proudly wearing his UT Permian Basin gear.  Here’s a great conversation we had about his adventure.

Q: Why did you choose UT Permian Basin?

A: I knew I wanted to be an engineer. After researching several schools I chose UTPB because they offered a degree in petroleum engineering. It is a field that I felt was unique and exciting as well as rewarding. Another major factor in my decision was that UTPB offers a very affordable tuition rate for out of state residents such as myself.  I’m thankful that I chose UTPB. The professors in my engineering program demonstrate passion and demand excellence. That expectation from my professors motivates me to succeed.

Q: Tell us about your life on campus at UT Permian Basin:

A:  I live on campus and work as an RA for student housing. The campus community is wonderful and my coworkers are amazing.

Q: You love to travel!  Why are you so passionate about this experience?

A: Some people scrapbook and collect stamps. I read travel blogs and scour the internet every day for flight deals. I want to see and experience all of the wonders of the world. Last year I went to Peru and hiked Machu Picchu. My latest trip took me to Asia. It’s an adventure I’ve dreamed about for as long as I can remember.

The first leg of my trip took me to Japan. I spent five days in Tokyo. I immediately fell in love with Japanese culture and FOOD! I had so many memorable moments in Japan. I was traveling alone and had only a backpack (which is mostly what I do).  I got lost on the subway countless times and had amazing Ramen and sushi. I visited Mount Fuji on my last day and was overwhelmed by its beauty. My favorite moment in Tokyo was on New Year’s Eve. I celebrated the countdown to the New Year at the Shibuya crossing. It is rumored to be the busiest intersection in the world. Next I traveled to China where I spent 5 days in Beijing. I visited the Forbidden City and walked through Tiananmen Square. I was by myself on this trip and in some areas it is difficult to order food without knowing the language. It’s also difficult to navigate or find out where to go. Many websites are banned in China. Google Maps is not accessible and certain email clients are not permitted. One of the apps on my phone that worked fine in China was Canvas. I was able to correspond with one of my favorite professors through Canvas. Professor Zeng is petroleum engineering professor. He is from China and attended a university in Beijing. He provided directions to visit places while I was walking around the city.

On one of my last days in China I visited the Great Wall. I walked along the wall until I could walk no further. It was exhausting but well worth it. I wanted to show off my UT Permian Basin pride so I took pictures holding up the school logo at the very top. I made a friend while hiking the wall. He was also a solo traveler from India. I love meeting other travelers. There is a special generosity that exists among travelers and backpackers. As it turns out, my new friend is also a petroleum engineer! Big wall, small world!  We celebrated our hike by toasting a beverage at a spot on the top of the wall and traded contact information. I told him that if he ever visits Texas or Arizona that he always has a place to stay.

Q: How do travel and engineering connect?

I would say that my passion for traveling has definitely impacted my decision to pursue a career as a petroleum engineer. I understand that when I graduate, many jobs may require me to work in parts of the world that are not close to home. That excites me and fuels my desire to graduate and be successful.

I had a few people ask me what UTPB stands for when I was in Asia. I was proud to tell them that it was the University I attend in Texas. I love to get the word out about UT Permian Basin at any opportunity. FALCONS UP!