University of Arizona
William Yslas Vélez is a University of Arizona Distinguished Professor Emeritus, and an Elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. From 1994–96, Vélez served as the president of Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS). He also worked with the US Navy on communication systems for submarines, and holds four patents on this work.
According to Vélez, “One of the wonderful things about the mathematical community is being around some of the smartest people in the world. Mathematicians can do anything.” He adds, “The role of mathematics in society has changed dramatically in the last 50 years. Mathematics has become an essential component in a large number of academic studies and technical careers. Moreover, the associated analytical thinking that one acquires in the process of mathematical training is a valued commodity in the workforce. An undergraduate degree in mathematics, coupled with computer skills, is marketable, versatile and provides entrance into a variety of careers.”
Vélez is concerned about and involved with increasing the number of Chicano/Latino, Native American and African American students pursuing careers in mathematics-based fields. Mathematical knowledge is now a civil-rights issue as this training gains entrance into high paying careers that are also exciting and address the needs of society. Our communities have a right to participate in the mathematical enterprise. We must participate.