1.1 About the Author

Professional Background

Dr. Armando A. Rodriguez joined the Electrical Engineering faculty at Arizona State University (ASU) in 1990 – after receiving his doctorate in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). His area of specialization was control design for complex dynamical systems. He has worked/consulted at/for Army Research Laboratory, Boeing, Eglin Air Force Base, Honeywell, IBM, Bell Laboratories, MIT, National Academies, NSF, NASA Ames, NASA Langley, Raytheon Missile Systems. He has authored over 200 publications – including three texts: Analysis and Design of Feedback Control Systems, Analysis and Design of Linear Systems, and Analysis and Design of Multivariable Control Systems. He has given over 70 invited talks – including over 10 plenary talks.

Personal Biographical Background

His parents migrated to the U.S. in search of financial opportunity. He was born and raised in Washington Heights, New York City – a multicultural neighborhood bordering Harlem on its north side. Rodriguez is the oldest of three boys. His father was a window cleaner and handyman. His mother stayed home to take care of her three boys. His mother would pass away of cancer at the age of 44. Rodriguez was 13 years old. His brothers were 5 and 6 years old. This traumatic experience motivated him to excel in his studies. He is married to a lovely, hardworking accomplished engineer – the daughter of migrant field workers. Together, they are the proud parents of twins – a boy and a girl; great students; great kids; eager to become engineers so that they can create.


He is the recipient of an 1998 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science and Engineering Mentoring – receiving the award from President Bill Clinton in a White House oval office ceremony. He is also a Boeing A.D. Welliver Fellow (1996). He has received multiple teach and mentoring awards. He is currently the Executive Director of the Southwest Institute for Engineering Transfer Excellence (SWIETE) and the Motivated Engineering Transfer Student (METS) Center. He is working, with partners, toward the establishment of an Arizona-Wide and Southwest Regional Engineering Transfer Excellence Academy. Partnering institutions include:

  • Mesa Community College, Estrella Mountain Community College, Phoenix College
  • Central Arizona College, Cochise College, Eastern Arizona College, Mohave Community College, Yavapai College

Research Areas

His research interests lie in the following areas:

  • nonlinear control theory; robust control of multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) systems; infinite-dimensional systems; approximation theory; sampled data systems; multi-rate systems; nonlinear systems with hard constraints; nonlinear and convex optimization;
  • how to best motivate, recruit, empower, train and place engineering students; working with community colleges across Arizona and the Southwest to maximally recruit and impact engineering bound students; toward an effective theory of quiz-based and project-based learning for STEM students, academic success and professional development (ASAP) strategies for engineering students – particularly community college transfer students

Application Areas

Application areas have included:

  • intelligent autonomous systems and vehicles; driverless vehicles; robotic systems; drones; interacting systems; hypersonic vehicle design and control; guidance, navigation and control (GNC) for missiles; spacecraft design and control; power converters; lower power electronics; coordination of multiple ground and air vehicles in a highly uncertain environment; Modeling, Simulation, Animation and Real-Time (MoSART) control of dynamical systems; Flexible Autonomous Machines operating in an uncertain Environment (FAME); renewable energy; sustainability; and infrastructure management.
  • With students, he founded ASU’s Micro-Air Vehicle (MAV) club in 2015. He REALLY loves his job!
  • “When I was growing up in New York, I could never have possibly imagined all the opportunities that I would one day have. No way! My father gave me two choices: study or die. I am glad that eventually I chose correctly. My dad was glad too. Thanks dad! I owe so much to my mentors and teachers. I am supremely and forever grateful. Being able to give back is just one more gift that I could not have imagined.”

1.2 Historical Perspective - The Need for a Highly Trained STEM Workforce

Post World War II History

After WWII, U.S. leadership recognized the need for excelling and maintaining a global edge in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)

National Science Board (NSB) and National Science Foundation (NSF)

The National Science Foundation (NSF) was formed in 1950. Today, its budget is approximately $7.46B per year (2016).
The U.S. National Science Board serves as the policy generator for the NSF. It also serves as an advisory body to the President and Congress. As such, the NSB and NSF work to address the strategic needs of the U.S. in science, engineering and educations.

STEM Workforce Statistics

U.S. STEM workforce statistics are well documented within the NSB’s Science and Engineering Indicators:

Ongoing Technological Revolution

The world is currently experiencing an unprecedented and accelerating technological revolution. We are seeing breakthroughs across many areas. These include:

  • organ growth, organ and cell repair, DNA modification (via CRISPR), advanced new and personalized medicines, micro-and nano-technologies, driverless and driver assisted vehicles, swarms, exoskeletons, very high bandwidth communications, electronic miniaturization, supercomputing, smart grid, bio fuels, energy harvesting, advanced materials, and so much more!
To say that science and engineering controls the jobs of tomorrow is an egregious understatement.

Engineering as a Career

While engineering has often enjoyed a bad rep: hard, boring, irrelevant, and not having much to do with daily life; it is objectively exciting, very relevant, and has lots do with almost all aspects of daily life in today’s world. Is engineering hard? Here is the easy answer. Yes it is hard, but, then anything worthwhile is difficult. Here is the more correct nuanced answer. Hard relative to what? How many young people do you know that made optimally wrong choices – choices they will pay for over the next 50-60 years. It is sad to think about seriously. Here is the implicit reasoning that takes place:
1. Do I study hard for 17-20 years and then reap the rewards (subject to some uncertainty) for the next 60 years?
2. Do I have some fun for 17-20 years and then work like a dog (with great uncertainty) for the next 60 years?
It is simply amazing to me why the majority chose door # 2.
It’s arguably worth the work when one properly evaluates the true return on investment (ROI) – financially, psychologically, socially and philosophically. “If I had to do it all over again, I would without any hesitation. How to get young people to see the inherent coolness of engineering is not easy, but it is a challenge I welcome. Objectively speaking, engineering is OUTRAGEOUSLY exciting, relevant and cool! For goodness sakes, its 2017 and we are growing organs in the lab. We are able to modify DNA, repair organs and clone a thing or two. The Kepler telescope has helped discovered over 3000 exoplanets. That’s a long ways from the 9 planet system I grow up admiring: My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pickles. I hated when they got rid of pickles. I want all young people to realize that there is ongoing technological revolution taking place – one that they can participate in. Like a mentor of mine taught me, it is a matter of planning your work and working your plan.”

Consequences of Quitting

If you start in Engineering, what are the consequences of quitting?
They are almost incalculable. There is a cost to the nation, to you, to your future family. Dropping out of college costs the public billions. Read it for yourself:
MSNBC Article (Eric Gorski; 10-11-2010)
“Today, I am able to give my kids and family things that my parents could not have even imagined. I am not referring to physical things. Being able to properly educate your kids is the greatest gift a parent can experience.”

Preparing for an Increasingly Multidisciplinary Technological World

Lets save a little energy and drop the silly quotes. I urge all young people to prepare for an increasingly multidisciplinary and technologically advanced world. The possibilities (from an imagination perspective) are, for all practical purposes, boundless.

The Purpose of this Site

The purpose of this site is simple.

  • To help you take control of your academics, your mind, your career and all aspects of your life.

1.3. The Intended Audience

College First Time Freshman
Community College Transfer Students
Graduate Students
Working Students
Parents In School
STEM Workforce
Women and Underrepresented Minorities

1.4 Taking Responsibility - It's Your Future

A University Education - A Special Time
A university education is special. It is a special time. Here is something to remember:
"School is not about learning. It is about Learning to Learn (A.A. Rodriguez, 2012)."
It is amazing that universities offer all these amazing classes, but there is not class where you are taught how to learn. This is truly amazing.
Toward this end, I want to recommend the following:

Setting Priorities and Remaining Disciplined

As you move forward, you must force yourself to prioritize widely and remain disciplined. Try not to celebrate too early.

Life-Long Friendships, Role Models, Mentors

You will develop life-long friendships while in school. Be aware of this. Nurture them. Along your journey, you will encounter role models and mentors – some wrapped in the same humanoidal package.

Reaching Out for Help

Learn to reach out for help. Too many students remain silent during there 4-5 year stay at the university. Don’t let this happen to you. Ask lots of questions. (Think before you ask…but…for heaven sakes, ASK!)

The Difference Between an Academic Advisor and a Mentor

While an academic advisor can talk to you about classes, a mentor can help you plan your path toward a wonderful career and life. Get yourself several mentors. Just as there are should be different types of tools in your toolbox, you ought to have different types of mentors. Start collecting them. You will find good use for each of your mentors. If you search properly, you can find one that is like a Swiss army knife!

Need for Academic and Career Plans - These are Vital to Keep You on Course!

As you move from semester to semester, make sure that you form and update your academic and career plans. Each update should involve deep thinking, dreaming, reflecting, planning, goal and objective setting – all dosed in reality. If you do this, the plans will keep you on course.

1.5 Outline of Web Site - Web Site Map

1.6 Acknowledgements

I wish to thank my wife, my kids, my family for all their support. I also wish to thank my colleagues for their professionalism, spirit, curiosity and friendship. Finally, I must thank the students. They make everything possible. They represent our future leaders. It is a pleasure to work with them. Oh yes. I also wish to thank the National Science Foundation for NSF S-STEM 1565177. We will make good use of it.





Dr. Armando A. Rodriguez, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Southwest Institute for ENG Transfer Excellence (SWIETE)

Motivated Engineering Transfer Students (METS) Center
Professor of Electrical Engineering
School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering
Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering
Arizona State University

Tyler Mall, GWC 352
Mailstop 875706
Tempe, AZ 85287-5706
Office: (480) 965-3712
Fax: (480) 965-2811