Combining Hard and Soft Skills in the Modern Business World

Rodrigo Martorell Cascón (M.A.S. TENR ’22) always knew he wanted to be an engineer. But it wasn’t until he earned a graduate degree that he realized how much soft skills can matter in the modern business world.

“Since I was very young, I was really curious about how everything works: how airplanes fly, how light bulbs turn on,” Martorell Cascón says. He became interested in Illinois Institute of Technology’s technological entrepreneurship program because, “I didn’t know how to put [engineering principles] into the real world. I wanted to learn how to apply everything I learned, to see if I could put that in practice.”

Martorell Cascón received concurrent degrees in 2022: a master’s degree in industrial engineering from Universidad Politécnica de Madrid and a master’s degree in technological entrepreneurship from Illinois Tech.

Illinois Tech Coleman Foundation Clinical Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship Nik Rokop says he was impressed with Martorell Cascón’s progress in mitigating the typical friction in inherent skill sets between those that pursue degrees in engineering and entrepreneurs.

“There’s this tension as an engineer, that you have to do things perfectly. But as an entrepreneur, there’s more uncertainty that you have to deal with,” Rokop says.

Those lessons were difficult, but valuable, Martorell Cascón says. “It was more difficult than I thought. Numbers, the engineering side, is very simple. Applied to the real world, you have to talk to a lot of people, you have to be flexible. That’s something I struggled with and learned in my degree.”

But it paid off. Martorell Cascón is now working as a methods and industrialization engineer for Thales Alenia Space, an aerospace company known for manufacturing satellites. The Madrid office, where he works, focuses on manufacturing satellite transponders.

“I like the job a lot. And I know how to handle any problems,” Martorell Cascón says.

Someday, he adds, he may even use those entrepreneurship principles to start a business himself.

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