A Lifetime of Diversity: Challenges, Successes, and Rewards

Richard Tapia
Rice University

In this motivational talk the speaker will describe formative interesting experiences, challenges and successes encountered along his life's journey from a childhood in the barrios of Los Angeles to a University Mathematics Professor, a President Clinton appointee to the National Science Board, and the first domestic born Latino elected to the prestigious National Academy of Engineering. A first-generation Mexican-American and a product of
public education, Los Angeles City Schools and UCLA, the speaker's path reinforces the view that many paths lead to the same place. Discussion points will include- Should race and ethnicity play a role in academic science, engineering , and mathematics? As underrepresented minorities are we round pegs in square holes; how much do we have to change to be academically successful? What are the extra dimensions that we bring to the table; are they embraced, appreciated, rewarded? The talk will end with a short presentation made jointly with Rice mathematics and art major Josef Sifuentes entitled "Fusing Art and Mathematics through Cars". This presentation demonstrates how the author has been able to use mathematics to maintain and combine his three loves of family, cars, and mathematics.The speakers will show and describe the making of an exciting video that was made to accompany the showing of Tapia's 1970 Chevelle Malibu SS at various car shows across the
country. The psychedelic video images are constructed entirely using
numerical simulations of fluid flow in and around the car and are obtained using numerical methods to solve the Navier-Stokes partial differential equations that govern fluid flow.

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