Struggles, Achievements, and Advice from Co-Founder of Q Engineering
Written by, Roberto Paredes
Edited by, Sriniketh Sukumar
Somewhere deep in Mr. Ruiz’s garage lays a box full of memories and experiences from which he learned that “Failure is a pre-requisite for success, if you do not learn how to process, deal and recover from it you will have a hard time succeeding.” But most importantly, in that box there is also salvage parts from a helicopter that he built and crash into the ground. James Ruiz ‘07 is a former Aggie Petroleum Engineer who, with hard work, dedication and his eager entrepreneur spirit, Co-Founded Q Engineering, and oil and gas innovation and data science based technical solution provider.
In this interview, Mr. Ruiz relates his way up the ladder, and how many times he had to get up from failure. Starting out from college Mr. Ruiz was a low GPA student for the first year, due to the freedom and sociability that we all have experienced during college. After learning his lesson, he developed more structure in his schedule, knew what he was trying to achieve and with that tunnel vision his GPA went up. Debating whether to pursue a finance or engineering degree he scheduled an appointment with our department to ask a few questions about Petroleum Engineering and ended up getting accepted to the department on the spot. Continuing with his hard work and always pursuing leadership roles he became the secretary of SPE, as well as the treasurer of his fraternity while also serving a student worker.
After graduation, Mr. Ruiz started working for Apache Corporation, and after a few years his eagerness to build something for himself kicked in. With the experience in the stock market and the programming knowledge that he had gained since he was 14, he decided to build an automatic trader, which he backtested for 5 years. The product worked well, and he was getting very significant returns. In time, the automatic trader was doing so well and being that Mr. Ruiz is a go getter, he decided to put his life savings towards the automatic trader. Things were going well. One day at around 5:30 AM he turned on the daily news and noticed that something was not right. The market had not open yet, but he had this heavy feeling in his chest. He got ready for work and after been there for about an hour the market opened. Within 30 to 90 seconds he lost all of his life savings and went into a negative slump. He started unwinding his investments and things went relatively well, although he was able to walk away with a few dollars. Later, he noticed that the investment was right, he just needed to wait some time. This unfortunate event sucked the entrepreneur spirit out of him, and completely ruined his day.
Mr. Ruiz lost everything, except his fighting spirit – He started saving money again. After about two and a half years, the entrepreneur bug in him spiked once again. “I was watching a science channel and there was an episode of military drones” he said. At this time there were no commercial drones in the market. Fascinated, he joined a community of drones’ hobbyists. He started researching, he set a goal to create a mapping drone for the oil and gas industry. After a year and half of building his helicopter, his product was done; a six-foot, 30-pound helicopter. Powered by electricity, autopilot codes obtained from other members of the community and software to do all the mapping. “I still remember how heavily loaded it was when the motors were spinning at 2000 RPM. Other than that, I remember when it came crashing down from the sky straight into the parking lot.” To beat a dead horse, once the helicopter was in the ground the rotor kept spinning until the battery ran out. Mr. Ruiz lost his camera, all of the hardware, and two years of time.
At this point he decided to focus on his career. He switched companies and went into an acquisition company; where he worked with numerous engineering teams. Having the opportunity to see the gaps and improvements that needed to be filled in the oil and gas industry. He decided to focus on the things that he knew the best: Programming for the petroleum industry. He decided to try it one more time, putting in all of his efforts. Mr. Ruiz and his partner decided to branch off and started Q Engineering, their startup, which has now been in operation for about two and a half years. Q Engineering makes software, but truly they solve problems and create and better, faster and a more profitable future for everyone. Mr. Ruiz made his dream come true by “building a company around a product”.
Mr. Ruiz was part of TAMU-SPE’s “Getting your foot in the door” panel, to advise students who struggle to kick-start their career, much like he did not too long ago. After his insightful presentation, Mr. Ruiz graciously volunteered his time to answer some of our questions, which we hope will benefit you!