Founder's Biography

Charles E. Vela
Executive Director, CAHSEE

Charles E. Vela is a research and development engineer with over twenty years of experience in leading and managing the application of advanced technologies to large scale and complex systems.

Currently he's President and Chief Scientist of Expertech solutions, a high-tech startup company, where he advises the IRS in the acquisition and deployment of large scale strategic technology. He also leads the company's R&D program.

Formerly he served as Senior Science Advisor for the Illinois Institute of Technology Research Institute (IITRI), where he advised the IRS in its multi-billion dollar modernization project.

Before joining ITTRI, he was a Lead Engineer at the MITRE Corporation (divested from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) where he managed a high-tech telecommunications laboratory and directed R&D in the economic analysis and optimization of the federal telecommunications systems. Previously, he was Assistant Study Director at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, where he led research in the utilization of enabling technologies on the mapping of the brain. He is a former Professor of, and Research Fellow in Electrical Engineering at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. He holds advanced degrees in Electrical Engineering and Operations Research from the California State University and the National Autonomous University of Mexico, respectively. His current areas of research include: Public sector modernization and re-engineering; Best practices for the acquisition and management of large-scale complex information technology and telecommunications systems; Algorithms for optimal call center operations; Integration of heterogeneous technologies in large-scale systems, the design of complex executive decision support systems, economics of large-scale telecommunications systems and data mining.

Charles Vela is Executive Director of the Center for the Advancement of Hispanics in Science and Engineering Education (CAHSEE). Over the last twelve years, as CAHSEE Executive Director and as former Chair of the Committee Advancing Careers in Science and Engineering of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Charles has pioneered a nationwide comprehensive system of model programs that supports the academic success of Hispanic American and other minority students. Fifth through 11th graders receive college-level accelerated courses in math, science, and engineering to prepare them to enter top universities. He manages the Center's NASA-funded engineering and science faculty and professional development program and a Department of Energy-funded R&D program, serving, respectively, 40 and 10 college graduate and undergraduate students yearly. He also is responsible for the Center's strategic relations with the White House, members of Congress, federal agencies, corporate america, professional organizations and national Latino organizations.

Nearly all of CAHSEE pre-college students enroll in science and engineering programs with almost zero attrition. Seventy percent of CAHSEE students pursue graduate degrees, mostly master, within two years of obtaining their Bachelors degree. Fifteen CAHSEE students have completed or are presently pursuing doctorates at leading American universities, including Caltech, MIT, U.C. Berkeley, U.C. San Diego, Arizona State, UCLA, University of Arizona, Notre Dame, the Mayo Clinic, Northwestern University among others.

For his work with CAHSEE, in 1997, he received the Junipero Serra Award, the highest recognition given by the Latino science and engineering community to one of its peers for sustained effort and success in channeling Latinos into science and engineering careers.

Charles Vela is presently leading an effort to establish a Center for Academic Excellence in Science and Engineering in El Salvador. The Center consists of four accelerated science, math and engineering programs geared towards gifted and talented college and pre-college students and university faculty. He has also assisted the University of El Salvador in the development of its research policy. Recently, the Salvadoran Minister of Education, Dr. Evelyn Jacir de Lobo, presented him with a merit award for his contribution towards education in El Salvador.

Charles has served on many boards and commissions, including the Congressional Commission on Woman and Minorities in Science where he represented the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Congressman Dennis J. Hastert; the National Science Foundation's Model Institutions of Excellence; The National Academy of Sciences’ Committee to Evaluate the National Institutes of Heath (NIH) Minority Programs; The National Research Council’s Knowledge Assessment Committee; The National Commission of Technology Education; The Board of Governors of the Latino Science and Engineering Consortium; The National Council of La Raza; and The Hispanic Council of International Relations, among others.

Charles Vela has written, published and presented numerous papers and reports on technical and education related subjects and has been the recipient of multiple awards for his technical and educational contributions. In 1996, Vela received Vice President Gore's National Performance Review Hammer Award for his contributions to the modernization of the Federal Telecommunications System.

Charles and his work in education have been featured in the Washington Post, the Hispanic Engineer Magazine, UNIVISION, the Hispanic Business Magazine, Technica, Hispanic National Radio, and local television and radio stations, NASA publications, and in El Salvador’s newspapers and magazines. In 2000, the former First Lady, Hillary Rodman-Clinton and the Department of Education highlighted CAHSEE on a document entitled “What Works in the Hispanic Community”. In past press releases, the White House has highlighted its partnership with CAHSEE in education.

  Copyright Center for the Advancement of Hispanic in Science And Engineering Education 2003
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