Elías Cueto: "As a child, science seemed unattainable to me"

Asturian by birth, he came to the University of Zaragoza for a three-month stay and stayed here for life. An industrial engineer, his research focuses on Computational Mechanics.
Elías Cueto

Did you always know you wanted to dedicate yourself to research?

It always caught my attention. The first seed was planted by an exceptional teacher I had at my high school in Luanco, Luis Ignacio García. He taught us physics and chemistry classes and he passed on his interest to us, although, at that time, science seemed unattainable to me.

And did you follow in his footsteps?

The truth is that in the end I didn't study physics or chemistry, I was inclined towards engineering and I began to see that it could be something real when a professor offered me the chance to do my final degree project with his research group. He opened the doors to this field for me.

From then on, I was offered the chance to come to the University of Zaragoza, where I came to work for three months with Professor Manuel Doblaré, on finite elements. Those months went by, I met my wife, who is now my wife, and I stayed for the rest of my life.

How long have you been linked to the I3A and what would you highlight about the Institute?

I have been at the I3A since its creation, the last stage, until this year, I have been deputy director. From my point of view, it plays a fundamental role in supporting project management and all administrative tasks, helping to achieve European projects. Ideally, the I3A should have the capacity to actively participate in the direction of the scientific policy of what we do, to contribute to the recruitment of researchers, to set priority lines.... But the reality is different and I hope that more possibilities will come along.

In your research group, what are your most important lines or areas of work?

My group, Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering (AMB), is one of the largest in the I3A and we are dedicated to the development of techniques in the field of computational mechanics, our line of research is more basic, we design tools with which others apply to their work in biomechanics, mechanobiology...

Do you have any ongoing projects that you would like to highlight?

We have just started a chair with the ESI group, a French multinational that develops simulation software, and our work there is the incorporation of Artificial Intelligence into computational mechanics, a line that is very new internationally and has a lot of impact. Artificial Intelligence is also involved in the projects we have with the Ministry of Science.

What do you like most about your profession?

The two things I like most are learning and living with young people, something I wouldn't trade for anything. The possibility of continuing to learn permanently, our work, being able to continue studying; and being in contact with young people, in the training of new researchers, the famous third cycle, the doctoral cycle, is the part that I love, you accompany them in the preparation of a thesis, a tremendous personal effort, with hard moments, also successes, and having the opportunity to be there in that process is fascinating.

What would you like to see happen in the research world?

A change of mentality. We lack a research tradition, there were people who did great work, but in isolated areas. Those from the universities who sent people to other countries, because this was a wasteland, did a great job, a great effort. We need a budget, Spain invests much less than the countries around us in R&D and we also need a real research mentality.

In spite of everything, with the few resources we have, we play a very worthy role. I wish some government would support research, train more people and bring in great researchers from other countries.

What would you say to someone who is thinking of going into research?

I would tell them that they have to be very convinced and very sure. The path is very hard, but if they like it, if they have a vocation, they should not hesitate, and they will also have the opportunity to go abroad and see what is being done in other places.



What did you study? Industrial Engineering at the University of Oviedo.

A dream to fulfil: My research career has given me so much satisfaction that I don't think I can aspire to much more.

Hobbies: Walking, reading, going back to my homeland, Asturias.

A book: I have just read "Historia de una ferretería", by Luis Ignacio García, my high school teacher.

A film: "Like Water for Chocolate" or "A Beautiful Mind".

Favourite band or singer: Joan Manuel Serrat

A trip: Iceland, a country I want to go back to.

How would you define yourself: I am quite a methodical person and I love learning new things.


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