🕯 ✝ Revised January 25th, 2020.
A tribute to honor my dear friend, classmate and coworker for 30 years. A great thinker and genius, Benjamin Gonzalez (Broman).
In the mid 1970s, Ben began attending Crosby Elementary in El Paso, Texas. At home, as a curious young child with his vibrant mind, he would disassemble and reassemble radios and clocks. His father, a mechanic by trade, noticed Ben’s natural mechanical inclination and gradually began introducing Ben to automotive repair.
Years later, while attending Magoffin Middle School, his science teacher recommended Ben to attend the Summer Engineering Institute at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), College of Engineering. Now called the ExciTES Summer Institute, back then it was a two week long summer camp introducing young students to various fields of science and engineering.
In the session Ben attended, a professor at the camp, Dr. Juan Herrera gave introductory lectures on mechanics of materials, tension, compression and shear. Students then participated in a bridge building contest with the objective to build a bridge with a maximum span of 24 inches, no taller than 6 inches, using only 100 Popsicle sticks and unlimited cardboard, glue, paper and string. Ben left a grand impression by constructing bridge after bridge, each an improvement from the previous design, ultimately being able to hold approximately 750, 1700 and 3800 pounds of load, establishing a record for strength which still stands today. It was this summer camp that Ben attributed as a life changing event as he found a natural talent for engineering. His success at the camp bolstered his confidence and passion to study engineering after graduating from Irvin High School.
Ben’s exceptional performance during the camp prompted Dr. Herrera, along with Dr. Stephen Stafford, to recommend him for several university scholarships. Though Ben could have attended any university, he decided to attend UTEP to study mechanical engineering under the tutelage and mentorship of these professors. He was awarded the following scholarships:
- Presidential Scholarship
- Murchison Scholarship
- Phelps Dodge Scholarship
- National NACME Corporate Scholars Scholarship
In the Fall of 1989, my lifelong friend who lived across the street (Mark Lopez), transferred to Irvin High School for his senior year. This is where he met Ben in Physics class. Mark had a 1964 1/2 Ford Mustang that he was restoring and since Ben also had an interest in car restoration, Mark would invite Ben to his home. This is where I myself met Ben. At the time, I was already enrolled in my first year at UTEP.
As a engineering student, I remember Ben was always under pressure to earn A’s in all his classes. He feared he would lose his scholarships if he didn’t perform. Due to these circumstances, he made the Deans List every semester and was a member of the Golden Key National Honor Society.
During his last year of school for his bachelors degree (June 1994 – June 1995), he was a critical member of the 1995 Hybrid Electric Vehicle Challenge team, along with myself and others.
Ben designed and fabricated major structural and power-train components. In his words:
I was heavily involved in the designed and fabrication of components for the conversion of a 1995 Dodge Neon into a hybrid electric vehicle as part of the 1995 Hybrid Electric Vehicle Challenge competition. I performed modifications to the car chassis, suspension, plumbing, designing and building the engine cradle, and engine and radiator mounts for the trunk mounted CNG engine/generator [Auxiliary Power Unit (APU)]. I designed and built the electrically insulated coupling connecting the 150kW electric motor to the one speed transmission and installation of the motor controller and routing of wiring for the car. [I also] designed and machined parts as needed and sourced manufactured components for vehicle conversion. I machined parts utilizing lathes, milling machines, drill presses and saws as needed for the various components. I worked with [the other members of our team], mechanical and electrical engineering students, on resolving joint design issues as they were encountered.Ben
Shortly thereafter, Ben earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering with honors (June, 1995).
In the years that followed, he was hired as a mechanical design engineer at the automotive supplier Stoneridge (Pollak) designing instrument clusters, power distribution systems and multiplex switching modules. We both were hired at the same time and carpooled on our first day of work on Monday, June 30, 1997. Later, Ben and I were able to bring Ernesto and Mack Fox on board with us at Stoneridge. A few years later, Ben left for Dell at Round Rock to design rack and tower servers. Months later, Ernesto followed Ben to Dell where he is still there today.
A few more years passed and Ben returned to El Paso to work at Stoneridge again but this time, also began attending Graduate School at UTEP and earned Master of Science in Materials Engineering with honors (2003).
After graduate school, Ben left Stoneridge to work at NASA’s White Sands Test Facility (WSTF) for various contractors over the years (Honeywell / GeoControl Systems / Jacobs Engineering) under the guidance and direction of Paul Spencer, which Ben highly respected.
He supported the Space Shuttle, the International Space Station (ISS) and other programs in various areas of materials testing and failure analysis. His other contributions were maintenance and calibration of lab equipment, and the repair and upkeep of laboratory equipment, some of which was past end of life with poor or no financial support by management.
After 10 years at NASA he finally had enough and he left. He became self-employed as a consultant engineer.
In his spare time, Ben enjoyed automotive vehicle restoration and modification, rebuilding engines, transmission and body work on various classic American cars, including his favorite, the Ford Falcon. He also gave his time generously to others, offering technical advice and philosophical wisdom.
Some of the various vehicles Ben has owned, refurbished, restored and maintained:
– Chrysler Products –
- 1967 Dodge Dart GT
- 1968 Plymouth GTX
- 1970 Plymouth Barracuda
- 1974 Plymouth Road Runner
– Ford Products –
- 1963 Ford Falcon
- 1963 1/2 Ford Falcon
- 1964 Ford Falcon
- 1965 Ford Falcon
- 1965 Ford Mustang
- 1965 Ford Ranchero
- 196? Mercury Cougar
- 1977 Ford Bronco
– General Motors –
- 1965 Pontiac GTO (owned by Mack)
- 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle
Benjamin Gonzalez (Broman), 48, son of Benjamin (Sr.) and Lilia Gonzalez of El Paso, Texas, entered eternal rest on February 25th, 2019.
Official obituary at legacy.com here.
🕯 ✝ Revision History:
- December 10th, 2019, preliminary complete draft.
- January 1st, 2020, revision.
- January 12th, 2020, added vehicles.
- January 25th, 2020, 1st webpage published.