Case Western Reserve University senior Felipe Gomez del Campo knows how to stay busy.
The distance swimmer is not only a competitor in the pool and in open water and an Aerospace/Mechanical Engineering major, he was also just named to Forbes Magazine‘s prestigious “30 Under 30″ list, which highlights the nation’s top entrepreneurs and innovators under 30 years old.
The 22-year-oldGomez is the founder of FGC Plasma Solutions, a company working on new technology to improve fuel injectors for jet engines. FGC Plasma Solutions is using plasma to change the fuel-burning process, leading to increased fuel efficiency, and with it a more environmentally-friendly engine.
But unlike many young entrepreneurs, Gomez wasn’t on his college campus or in a business meeting when he found out he’d been named to the Forbes list. In fact, he was off pursuing another ambitious passion in Florida, where his Case Western Reserve University swim team was on training trip.
“This actually started at a high school science fair,” said Gomez, who found time to chat with SwimSwam via phone after a full day of aquatic training. The idea took off from there, leading him into his college career, and Gomez said he plans to further refine the idea through grad school after completing his undergrad work.
“Hopefully this would be my thesis and kind of my full-time job,” Gomez said.
Juggling college academics, NCAA athletics and a start-up is far from easy – “I think I’d be busy if all I did was swim,” Gomez said with a laugh – but the distance swimmer says his time in the pool has helped him stay on top of all the entrepreneurial work.
“They’re both really challenging,” Gomez said. “But it’s like when you’re swimming a long practice. It sometimes feels like it’s never going to end, but you know that all the hard work will pay off.
“With swimming, you definitely learn that hard work is never wasted.”
So far, Gomez’s work has gained him a chance to pitch his company to panel members from the TV show Shark Tank, as well as the opportunity to meet President Barack Obama, with the Forbes honor just the latest in a line of accolades.
But Gomez continues to look forward. He and Case Western Reserve are less than two months away from the University Athletic Association Championships and the NCAA Division III Championships. And after that, Gomez – who has Mexican citizenship – plans to attend an open water event to perhaps earn the chance to represent Mexico internationally.
And FGC Plasma is also looking towards the future, even as the present fills up with prestigious accolades.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said Gomez, taking a brief moment to reflect before noting the need for his company to continue developing its product. “All these awards are great, but they do put the pressure on to follow through!” he jokes.
Luckily for Gomez, because of his career in the pool, that pressure won’t be anything he hasn’t faced before.
See Gomez at an event at the Whitehouse in the video below.