CSC News

March 16, 2007

Martin-Vega Named MOSI National Hispanic Scientist of the Year

-from the Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI), Tampa, FL

Tampa, FL (March 7, 2007) – Dr. Louis A. Martin-Vega, Dean of Engineering at North Carolina State University, and former professor and Dean of the University of South Florida College of Engineering, has been named the Museum of Science & Industry’s (MOSI) 2007 National Hispanic Scientist of the Year.

Of Puerto-Rican descent, Dr. Martin-Vega has held several prestigious national positions including being the first Hispanic to serve as acting head of the Engineering Directorate at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and director of NSF’s Division of Design, Manufacture and Industrial Innovation. His efforts at NSF included the development of foundation-wide programs such as the Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry (GOALI) and Research Experiences for K-12 Teachers (RET) programs aimed at integrating research and education and increasing the participation of women and underrepresented minorities in science and engineering. His NSF responsibilities also included a visit to the South Pole.

In addition to spending nearly five years as professor and dean of the College of Engineering at the University of South Florida (2001-2006), he has also served as chair of the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering at Lehigh University; Lockheed Professor in the College of Engineering at Florida Institute of Technology, and as the director of the Center for Electronics Manufacturing at the University of Florida. He has also held tenured faculty positions at the University of Florida and the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez. In August 2006, Dr. Martin-Vega was named Dean of Engineering at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Among his numerous awards and honors, Dr. Martin-Vega received the Albert Holtzman Distinguished Educator Award from the Institute of Industrial Engineers in 1999 and the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Award (HENAC) in the college education category in 2000. Martin-Vega is a fellow and President-Elect of the Institute of Industrial Engineers; fellow of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers; a member of the Pan American Academy of Engineering and the National Engineering Deans Council, as well as several other engineering societies and organizations. He received his B.S. degree in industrial engineering from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez in 1969, his M.S. degree in operations research from New York University in 1971 and his Ph.D. in industrial and systems engineering from the University of Florida in 1975.

For seven years, MOSI has recognized nationally distinguished Hispanic science and engineering professionals to serve as role models and mentors for Tampa Bay’s Hispanic youth. Past honorees include a former U.S. Surgeon General, a Nobel Laureate of Chemistry, a NASA astronaut, a Marine Biologist, a Harvard professor of pathology and former chief of immunogenetics at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and most recently a seismologist and former director of the Carnegie Academy for Science Education (CASE) in Washington, D.C.

The mission of the MOSI National Hispanic Scientist of the Year Award is to recognize outstanding national Hispanic scientists who promote a greater public understanding of science and motivate Hispanic youths’ interest in science.  Proceeds from the event help to fund scholarships for at-risk youth who participate in MOSI’s “YES! Team,” Youth Enriched by Science program.

The Youth Enriched by Science, "YES!" Team, is a career and educational enrichment program designed to help at-risk youth, between the ages 13 to 17, develop and progress in a supportive peer-group environment.  Established in 1992, the focus of the program is to provide an opportunity for students to develop self-confidence, improve communication skills, build self-esteem and exhibit leadership skills.  In addition, students are encouraged and motivated to pursue science both as a career and as an essential element of their total education.  Mentors train students on science education, critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, and incorporating their ideas into museum programs.  Since 1996 about 90% of "YES!" Team participants have gone on to attend college.

This year MOSI will present the National Hispanic Scientist of the Year Award to Dr. Louis Martin-Vega during a gala award ceremony on Saturday, October 6, 2007.  During his visit, Dr. Martin-Vega will have the opportunity to mentor over 1,000 Tampa Bay area school children, many of whom will be visiting the museum for the first time.

In the year 2000 the Hispanic dropout rate rested at 27.8%, compared to 7% for White, non-Hispanic students and 13% for Black, non-Hispanic students.[1]  These statistics are significant when considering the rapid population growth experienced by the Hispanic minority group.  Studies show that in the year 2000 Hispanics comprised 12% of the total U.S. population, and it is estimated that this number will increase to 25% by the year 2050.

"Due to several socio-economic factors affecting at-risk Hispanic students today, it is vital to involve role models who will inspire and motivate these students with their career and life experiences," concluded Wit Ostrenko, MOSI President.

Former MOSI National Hispanic Scientist of the Year Award Honorees:

Dr. Inés Cifuentes (2006), seismologist; Dr. Edmond J. Yunis (2005), physician, researcher, Harvard professor; Dr. Antonia Coello Novello (2004), former U.S. Surgeon General; Dr. Mario Molina, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry (2003); Fernando “Frank” Caldeiro, NASA Astronaut (2002); and Dr. Alejandro Acevedo-Gutiérrez, Marine Biologist (2001).

See Martin-Vega’s biography in PDF format.

 [1] “P. Kaufman, M.N. Alt, and C.D. Chapman, Dropout Rates in the United States: 2000,” based on the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Current Population Surveys, (1972-2000)

For more information about the Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI), visit

Media Contact:
Shani Jefferson,, (813) 987-6080

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