Alumna Combines Engineering and Business to Provide Creative Solutions to Companies

Martha Montemayor-Rapier is a problem-solver. Her creative energy and ability to find solutions helped her thrive as a chemical engineering student at the Cockrell School, and it fueled her early career success in the chemical and semiconductor industries. Today, she runs her own engineering and consulting firm, where she leverages her technical skills and business savvy to create innovative management systems for her clients.

martha montemayor-rapier

“What I enjoy most about engineering is identifying and understanding problems, building solutions and, most of all, getting results,” Montemayor-Rapier said.

Her company, Zander Engineering and Consulting, helps clients streamline their business processes and specializes in project management and environmental, health and safety compliance and management.

Montemayor-Rapier tailors solutions to company-specific problems. Her clients are both large and small, and they cross a variety of industries that include semiconductor, chemical, asset recovery, municipalities and education.

“I like helping people. I like working with different people and organizations and always having new challenges. At the end of a project, it’s very fulfilling to see clients feel relieved to have a solution and happy with the end product,” she said.

Montemayor-Rapier is a licensed professional engineer in Texas and holds a LEED AP accreditation in green building. While working for Dow Chemical U.S.A. in La Porte, Texas, she attended the University of Houston – Clear Lake, where she received her MBA in 1995.

“I had always worked to prepare myself to start my own business, obtaining certifications and getting an MBA. I just didn’t know how I would end up putting it all together,” she said.

In 2004, Montemayor-Rapier took her entrepreneurial leap.

“It’s been a fantastic learning experience,” she said. “It’s very fulfilling to have an idea for a business, work hard at it and get to a place where the business model works.”

Montemayor-Rapier is well suited to the busy life of an entrepreneur. During her time on the Forty Acres, she balanced a packed schedule of work, school and study.

She received her first engineering job through the Cockrell School’s Cooperative Engineering Education Program (Co-Op). Co-Op students complete at least two semesters of full-time work with the same employer and receive course credit. Montemayor-Rapier worked with Dow Chemical U.S.A, which offered her her first job after graduating, as a production engineer.

Looking back on her time at the Cockrell School, Montemayor-Rapier remembers studying and spending time with friends, one of whom introduced her to her husband, Edward Charles Rapier (B.S. ChE ’92), a fellow chemical engineering student. They became study partners and started dating after graduation.

“Not only did I earn a prestigious degree that has opened many doors for me but, most importantly, I also developed the relationships that matter the most in my life,” Montemayor-Rapier said.

Since graduating from the Cockrell School in 1991, Montemayor-Rapier has volunteered with a variety of organizations that support STEM education. She is an active volunteer for the Cockrell School’s Women in Engineering Program. This past summer, she participated in Lunch with an Engineer, where she inspired young women considering studying engineering at UT Austin.

“I believe in giving back. I’ve accomplished as much as I have because there’s always been someone to support me along the way — someone to say ‘you can’ at the right time,” Montemayor-Rapier said. “Volunteers serve as catalysts for inspiration. They serve as role models.”

Montemayor-Rapier has also served as a Team Manager for teams involved in Destination Imagination, a non-profit organization and competition that encourages children to innovate in teams by working together to develop creative solutions for a set of various challenges.

“Many problems in science and engineering require an in-depth understanding just to define them, let alone solve them,” Montemayor-Rapier said. “It is important that we encourage problem solving and STEM education to ensure that the future needs of communities are met.”

Montemayor-Rapier is a generous supporter of the Cockrell School and has contributed to the Friends of Alec annual giving program every year for the past six years.

“Attending and graduating from UT Austin has been instrumental to my life path, and the Cockrell School provided opportunities for me that shaped my future,” she said. “Many people made that possible, and playing a small role in someone else having a bright future is meaningful to me.”

Montemayor-Rapier lives in Austin with her husband, an environmental engineer with Zephyr Environmental Corporation, and their two sons Alexander (10) and Adrian (8).

"I believe in giving back. I’ve accomplished as much as I have because there’s always been someone to support me along the way — someone to say 'you can' at the right time,” Montemayor-Rapier said.