A multidisciplinary problem solver with real-world impact

by | Jan 2, 2019 | Alumni Profiles, Winter 2019 | 0 comments

José L. Moreno ’96 doesn’t have your average day job. As a regional engineering security officer with the U.S. Department of State, he has spent more than a decade crisscrossing the globe, providing technical solutions and leading teams to counter cyber and technical surveillance attacks on U.S. embassies and consulates. 

Today, Moreno is stationed in Lagos, Nigeria, and oversees embassies and consulates in a West African region the size of the United States. Since assuming the post in September 2017, he has also traveled to London and Brussels to commission a new embassy and NATO headquarters. 

Moreno landed at the State Department after serving in the U.S. Army and working for a few years as a systems engineer at Lucent Technologies and General Dynamics. “I loved the overseas experiences I had while in the Army,” he said. “I frequently experienced living history, rather than just reading about it in a book, which I appreciated. My wife had also lived abroad and loved it, and we wanted to give our two boys the same experience. So, when the opportunity with the State Department came around, I grabbed it.”

Since joining the agency in 2004, Moreno has steadily climbed up the organizational ladder. He earned promotions at a faster pace than many of his peers and asserted that his success is in no small part a result of the multidisciplinary education and problem-solving skills he obtained at Mines. “My degree is in electrical engineering, but I can manage multidisciplinary problems,” he said. “For example, when I’m on site, I’m equally comfortable talking to public utilities workers, civil engineers, network engineers or ambassadors.” 

This broad-based expertise has come in particularly handy during several of Moreno’s assignments. In 2014, he was posted in Islamabad, Pakistan, where, in addition to having regional responsibilities for consulates in Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar, he was responsible for commissioning one of the U.S.’ largest and most expensive embassies, a $1.2 billion complex. “That was a rewarding and, as you can imagine, very challenging assignment,” he said. 

After completing his tour in Pakistan, Moreno immediately drew on his education and experience again when he assumed the role of senior technical advisor and site construction security engineer for the new $1.4 billion NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. “There were 300 companies contracted to complete the building, and I had a staff of approximately 140 members from the then-28 NATO countries—it was a lot of moving parts,” he said. 

“As a Mines student, I learned to take a bird’s-eye view of a problem and then break it down into pieces that can be solved strategically,” Moreno concluded. “It’s a skill set that has served me well and that I have passed on to my sons, one of them (Daniel Moreno) being a new Mines student.”