Though he was born in San Antonio, Stockton grew up in rural Sisterdale, Texas, which has a population of about two dozen people. Both of his parents were UTSA graduates who raised him on a farm and his father, a mechanic, had a strong influence on his son’s passion for machinery.
“When I was a kid, he gave me a computer and I started playing games on it,” Stockton said. “One day I took it apart and thought, ‘What are all these little black chips?’”
The small-town aspiring engineer didn’t have to think twice about where to pursue a top-tier education. He enrolled at UTSA in the fall of 2011 to study computer and electrical engineering. Coming from a town of 25 people, Stockton was overwhelmed by the campus teeming with thousands of students and faculty.
“I was very introverted when I first came to UTSA,” he said. “But my advisors and my teachers encouraged me to get involved.”
Stockton helped found UTSA’s first drone team, which allows his fellow engineering students to develop innovative drones that can compete in national competitions. In his senior year, he also founded a start-up company with his fellow students to encourage children to pursue STEM careers.
“When I got to UTSA, I couldn’t talk to two people at once, let alone 200,” he said.
Stockton graduated from UTSA in May 2016 with his bachelor’s degree in computer and electrical engineering. He’s now working on his master’s in the same field while also working on a host of new projects, including one with the United States Air Force.
“We’re working on something at Lackland Air Force Base called The Commander’s Challenge,” he said. “It’s very exciting.”
The challenge calls for Stockton and his collaborators to develop a robot that can travel over a difficult terrain and secure a downed drone. They’re on track to complete the challenge later this month.
Even though he’s become entrenched in creating smart, friendly drones, Stockton’s first love is still computer chips. After he completes his second UTSA degree, he plans to go into chip design while continuing his work in STEM outreach.
“I know there’s a lot of options for me right now, so I’m enjoying my time here and contributing however I can,” he said. “We can innovate all we want, but you have to remember to give back.”