April 13, 2007

Alum Awarded by National Engineering Foundation

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Cornell alumnus Earl Valencia ’05 was one of 15 named “The New Face of Engineering” by the National Engineers Week Foundation this past February. Working for Raytheon Co., a Massachusetts-based aerospace systems company, Valencia is recognized for “outstanding abilities and leadership” in his field.
Valencia earned a masters degree in systems engineering from Cornell. According to Valencia, his experience at Cornell has played a major role in developing the skills necessary to succeed as a leader in engineering.
“There is the academic aspect which was extremely rigorous. I also got to meet real dynamic, smart people that challenge you to do better,” he said.
He accredits his development to the professors and students he got to share and pursue his ideas and interests with while attending the University. He claims they have played a significant role in his leadership and innovative skills as an engineer.
“I got connected to others. It’s about the people. I had the best time of my life, although I didn’t get to sleep,” he said.
According to Gil Jenkins, spokesman for Raytheon Co., the company employees over 70,000 people worldwide, and specializes in defense, homeland security and other global markets. Valencia himself has worked on the DDG 1000 Next Generation Naval Destroyer and the Ballistic Missile Defense Radar, critical defense projects sponsored by the U.S. military.
“He’s a highly talented next generation engineer … I don’t know many 24 year olds that have such dedication to their work,” Jenkins said. “I think he’s a fine example of the next generation engineer.”
Prof. Peter Jackson, operations research & industrial engineering, advised Valencia for the year he spent pursuing his master’s degree. According to Jackson, Valencia exhibited great passion for his work.
“He had tremendous energy, so he struck me as someone who would have an interesting career,” Jackson said. “I think he has a passion for engineering and for systems engineering in particular, and he conveys that passion to everyone around him.”
Jackson praised Valencia for starting an International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) chapter while at Cornell. It was Valencia’s own initiative to start the chapter and he worked to bring the organization of national professionals to the University. INCOSE is still active on campus and connects engineering students to the industry, promotes job fairs and provides various developmental materials.
“One person’s activity for one year has a lasting affect on students for many years to come. I am very grateful for what Earl did the one year he was here,” Jackson said.
According to Jenkins, apart from his work on defense systems in Raytheon, Valencia is also involved with Math Moves U, a corporate initiative to get more middle school students engaged with math and science. Through the program, he has volunteered as a judge in a robotics competition and has helped seniors in high school with projects such as building a hover craft.
“He’s a great ambassador for our company,” Jenkins said. “He’s like other engineers his age, but I think what separates him is the amount he invested in education and the breath of passion for the nuts and bolts as well as for the field … Earl is recognized and we want to continue to support employees like [him].”
“He’s characterized by enthusiasm, friendly individual, has passion for systems engineering, has tremendous energy and is a good representative of Cornell and everything he’s associated with,” Jackson said.
Despite everything he has accomplished, Valencia attributes much of his engineering success to the University and people who have pushed him to succeed throughout his years as a student.
“I really thank the school for giving me opportunities I wouldn’t get anywhere else,” he said. “For professors, the students are their products, so this award is for them.”