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Top Hispanics in Government and Education
Jun 14, 2004, 13:20

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Surveying the field of "Most Important Hispanics in Technology and Business," HE&IT's editors found many players who, while not fitting under the "corporate" label, bring to the table a strength of commitment and performance that affects the lives and economic opportunities of people everywhere. Those profiled here are first-rank players in government, academia, or the national research laboratories, where many pioneering scientific discoveries and new technologies first appear. Look closely, for these are people who are not to be ignored.

Roland S. Arriola
Vice President for External Affairs
The University of Texas - Pan American

Baylor University grad Arriola has a Harvard master's in public administration. When U.S. Jaycees named him one of 1983's Ten Outstanding Young Men of America, City Council member Arriola had already been the first Hispanic mayor of Waco, Texas. Later, he led economic development for the Texas Commerce Department. With Texas Pan American since 1999, Arriola oversees development, university relations, career placement, and 25 outreach programs. With his leadership, HESTEC, a motivational program cofounded with U.S. Rep. Reuben Hinojosa (D-Texas) (See story, Page 63), annually brings thousands of K-12 students and parents to meet role models and learn about careers in science and technology.

Hector Barreto
U.S. Small Business Administration

Rockhurst University business graduate Barreto began his career as South Texas Area manager for Miller Brewing Company, then moved to California to found an employee benefits firm. He later launched a second business as a securities broker specializing in retirement plans. He chaired the board of the Latin Business Association of Los Angeles and also founded a small business institute to offer technical assistance, education, and development opportunities and has been recognized by Congress for his contributions to America's small-business community. Now he oversees delivery of financial and business development tools, including the SBA's technology training programs, to entrepreneurs everywhere (See the Hispanic Engineer Online interview at

Wilbert Berrios
Chief Information Officer
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

With 26 years in government service, Berrios was selected to the Senior Executive Service in 1999 and appointed to his present post, where he serves as principal advisor to the Corps' commanding general on information technology issues. Berrios, a B.Sc. in education and an M.Sc. in management science, served as an Army officer in various aviation and operations research postings before joining the civil service in 1987. He has been chief of the Architecture Division, Information Management Office at Headquarters, Department of the Army, and held supervisory positions within the Defense Information Systems Agency, as well as director of information management for the U.S. Army Materiel Command.

Alphonso V. Diaz
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Diaz is responsible for planning, organizing, and directing NASA's Earth science, space science, and technology programs assigned to the Greenbelt, Md., center. Diaz began his NASA career at Langley Research Center in 1964, working on the Viking Mars project, then moved to headquarters. He has served on the International Solar-Polar mission (now Ulysses), the Galileo Program, and in the Solar System Exploration Program Division. Diaz earned his B.Sc. in physics from Philadelphia's St. Joseph's University and a master's degree in physics from Old Dominion University. He also has received a master's degree in management from MIT's Sloan School of Management as a NASA Fellow.

Nils J. Diaz, Ph.D.
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Dr. Diaz, now in his second five-year term at the NRC, was appointed commission chair by President Bush last year. He supervises licensing and construction of nuclear plants and other nuclear facilities and oversees their decommissioning. Earlier, he was professor of nuclear engineering at the University of Florida, director of the Innovative Nuclear Space Power Institute, and president and principal engineer of Florida Nuclear Associates, Inc. He spent 11 years running the Space Power Institute for the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization and earlier was associate research dean at California State University - Long Beach. Dr. Diaz got his B.Sc. in mechanical engineering at the University of Villanova, Havana, Cuba, and M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in nuclear engineering from the University of Florida.

Michael L. Dominguez
Assistant Secretary for Manpower and Reserve Affairs
U.S. Air Force
Dominguez leads a four-division department that sets policy for Air Force manpower and reserve affairs issues. Dominguez grew up on Air Force bases as his family moved around the world, and he went to West Point, graduating as a second lieutenant in 1975. He completed various Army assignments in Europe, then left the service in 1980 to go to Stanford Business School. With his M.B.A., he joined the Office of the Secretary of Defense in 1983 and rose to the Senior Executive Service. He has worked for the chief of Naval Operations staff, and he worked briefly for a technology service organization before joining the Center for Naval Analyses, rejoining the CNO staff until his present presidential appointment.

Francisco A. Figueroa
Vice President, Business Management & Facilities Services and
Chief Financial Officer
Sandia National Laboratories

Figueroa, a certified public accountant licensed in California, Colorado, New Mexico, and Tennessee; a certified financial planner; and a member of the American Institute for CPAs, manages facilities planning, construction, technical services, finance, procurement, property and logistics, business systems, business services, and pension and savings funds. He also has held the post of vice president and CFO for Lockheed Martin Energy Systems in Oak Ridge, Tenn. Figueroa, a B.Sc. in electrical engineering from Texas Tech University, earned his M.Sc. in systems management from the University of Southern California and an M.Sc. in astronautics at the Air Force Institute of Technology.

Orlando Figueroa
Director of Solar System Exploration Division and Mars Exploration

Born in San Juan, P.R., Figueroa completed his mechanical engineering B.Sc. at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez and completed advanced studies in mechanical engineering at the University of Maryland. A member of the federal Senior Executive Service, Figueroa has been deputy chief engineer for systems engineering and spent 22 years at Goddard Space Flight Center. He has headed the cryogenic technology section, played a key role on the Cosmic Background Explorer mission, and managed a Space Shuttle Helium on Orbit mission.

Sid Gutierrez
Director, Systems Assessment and Research
Sandia National Laboratories

Gutierrez, a 1973 aeronautical engineering graduate of the Air Force Academy, has a master's degree in personnel management from Webster University and completed graduate studies at Director's College, Stanford Law School, the UCLA Engineering and Management Program, and a special seminar at MIT. A native New Mexican, Gutierrez was a National Collegiate Champion parachutist before heading for pilot training at Texas' Laughlin AFB. An Air Force Test Pilot School graduate, he joined NASA in 1984. He was selected for astronaut training the next year and flew missions on the Shuttle until 1994. Col. Gutierrez retired in 1994 and joined Sandia, where he now manages a $165-million-a-year business, developing systems solutions for national security and nonproliferation.

Eduardo Macagno, Ph.D.
Dean, Division of Biological Sciences
University of California - San Diego

Founder of the division, Dr. Macagno spent 37 years at Columbia University, where he rose from graduate physics student to professor of biology and then associate vice president of arts and sciences for research and graduate education and dean of the Graduate School. At UCSD, his mission is to expand the scope and influence of its renowned bioscience programs. Recently, he helped create an Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture, in which architects and neuroscientists explore how to use knowledge about the human brain to improve living environments to boost learning and make hospitals more conducive to mental health and offices that enhance productivity.

J. Leonard "Lenny" Martinez
Vice President of Manufacturing Systems, Science and Technology
Sandia National Laboratories

Martinez worked 19 years at Digital Equipment Corporation in several posts, and also served as manufacturing director in Ciudad Chihuahua, Mexico, and as general manager for Digital Equipment de Mexico S.A. de C.V. Martinez joined Sandia Labs in 1995 as director of production integration, a center created to integrate the lab culture, manufacturing culture, and some private sector initiatives in support of the manufacturing operation to produce neutron generators. He rose to director of production operations, then to vice president of the Defense Product and Services Division, now Manufacturing Systems, Science and Technology. Martinez, a Stanford University Sloan Fellow, also completed the Digital International Management Education Program at INSEAD, Fontainbleu, France.

Mario J. Molina, Ph.D.
Institute Professor
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Winner of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Dr. Molina has been involved in developing our understanding of the stratospheric ozone layer and its susceptibility to human-made perturbations throughout his career. Born in Mexico City, he has a chemical engineering degree from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, a postgraduate degree from the University of Freiburg, Germany, and a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley. He joined MIT in 1989. In addition to codiscovering the so-called Ozone Hole, he most recently has been pursuing work on tropospheric pollution issues. Dr. Molina will join the University of California, San Diego's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in July.

Michael Montelongo
Assistant Secretary for Financial Management and Comptroller
U.S. Air Force

Montelongo, a 1977 B.Sc.-holder from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, served in the Army as a Ranger and Air Defense Artillery officer before his selection as special assistant to the commander in chief of the U.S. Southern Command; speechwriter and special assistant to the Army chief of staff, and a Congressional Fellow. In 1996, he entered private industry with BellSouth Telecommunications and later became a sales executive with Cap Gemini Ernst & Young. As assistant Air Force secretary, he also is principal advisor to the secretary, chief of staff, and other senior officials on fiscal matters.

Richard A. Tapia, Ph.D.
Noah Harding Professor of Computational and Applied Mathematics
Rice University
Dr. Tapia, the first in his family to attend college, earned B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees from UCLA. His efforts at Rice have won national recognition for educational outreach, and the Rice Computational and Applied Math Department has become a national leader in producing women and underrepresented minority Ph.D.s in mathematics. Dr. Tapia also is internationally known for his work in factory optimization, and he has coauthored two books and more than 80 mathematical research papers. He also is Rice's associate director of graduate studies and director of the Center for Excellence and Equity in Education. Appointed by President Clinton to the National Science Foundation's governing board, Dr. Tapia also won the Hispanic Engineer of the Year Award at the 1996 Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Conference.

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