South Florida

SWAG on 6: Sebastian Salas

When you think of after-school jobs for high school kids, you picture them working at the mall or at Starbucks.

How about professional design engineers? That doesn't make the list, and that's why Sebastian Salas is so extraordinary. The senior at Miami Lakes Educational Center is breaking the mold.

"I've always had this thing where, I like moving forward, I don't like staying in the same spot," Sebastian said.

Sebastian is in perpetual motion. He is the youngest person to ever earn expert-level certification on Solid Works, which is a mechanical engineering design program. His instructor in the Cambridge Engineering course at MLEC says Sebastian is the best student he’s had in 32 years of teaching.

"Very much so because he raises the bar so high, and you know, it's tough to walk in those shoes," said Paul Kynerd, a veteran teacher at MLEC. "I put opportunity in front of him and he eats it up at a rapid rate."

One of those opportunities was taking advantage of the equipment in the engineering room.

"After I learned about 3D printing, I said what the hey, this is the best thing that exists," Sebastian said. "I started creating my own little gizmos left and right and I eventually said, why not start a business about this because it's new technology."

So he did. This high school student teamed up with a friend to start a business called Wunderthought. You dream it, they build it, using Sebastian's expertise on Solid Works.

"Just walk in there, learn how to make it, and then create it, all from thought to reality," Sebastian explained.

That's Sebastian's second job. He also works as a design engineer at a professional firm, and still manages to get all of his school work done while helping everyone around him.

"The number one person that you can like, trust, that you know you can depend on to like, teach you something or help you with something is Sebastian," said Erick Rivera, Sebastian's classmate and business partner. "I feel that what makes him special is the way he's transforming people's lives, like mine, Sebastian got me into this."

One of their first projects was to make a prosthetic hand on a 3D printer for a little boy. It took months of trial and error, but eventually they succeeded.

"I wanted him, like, when he grows up, he says man, I remember those two high school kids, what they did for me, if they did that, what can i do? You never know!" Erick said, hoping they've inspired the boy.

Sebastian and Erick say as their business grows, they will continue to make prosthetics just as a community service.

"In this world we plant seeds and they grow, and they blossom, and they feed other people," Erick said, explaining that in his view, Sebastian is a seed planter.

"We want to become somebody's idol some day where they look up and they say, I wanna be that guy," Sebastian said.

He and Erick have both decided to stay in South Florida for college, so they can continue growing their business. Don't bet against Sebastian Salas becoming the next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg.

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