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José Zayas-Castro to lead the NSF Division of Engineering Education and Centers

José Luis Zayas-Castro

José Zayas-Castro begins his term as NSF division director for EEC on August 2, 2021.

July 29, 2021

The U.S. National Science Foundation has selected Dr. José Luis Zayas-Castro of the University of South Florida to serve as division director for the Division of Engineering Education and Centers. Zayas-Castro, who begins his NSF term on August 2, is currently executive associate dean, associate dean for international affairs, and professor of industrial and management systems engineering in the USF College of Engineering.

"Dr. Jose Zayas-Castro is an inspiring leader whose career journey and research passion have prepared him well to address the engineering research challenges faced by the Nation," said Linda Blevins, acting NSF assistant director for engineering. "His commitment and deep experience in broadening participation will help NSF reach the ‘missing millions’ by fostering pathways into engineering. I couldn’t be more thrilled to have him join our leadership team at NSF."

During nearly two decades at USF, he has served as a department chair and as associate dean for research in the College of Engineering and in various leadership positions at the USF Center for Entrepreneurship. Previously, he was a professor and co-director of the diversity in engineering program at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He began his faculty career at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez (UPRM), where he led activities in manufacturing, innovation, and academic and research affairs.

Zayas-Castro’s main research interests are in healthcare systems engineering, manufacturing systems, engineering entrepreneurship, and economic and cost systems. He has experience with small businesses as well as partnerships with industry, non-profit foundations, and international organizations. Zayas-Castro received his bachelor's degree in industrial engineering from UPRM, and his master’s in industrial and management engineering, master’s in business administration, and doctorate in management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Zayas-Castro is a Fellow of the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers, a member of the Pan-American Academy of Engineering, and is also very active in the Institute for Operations Research and Management Science (INFORMS). Among his numerous awards, in 2006 he received the Bernard M. Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education. He has been recognized for mentoring, advising, and diversity initiatives.

The Division of Engineering Education and Centers (EEC), in the NSF Directorate for Engineering, invests in creation of 21st century engineers and the discovery of technologies through transformational center-based research, research in education and inclusion, and research opportunities for students and teachers.


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The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2023 budget of $9.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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