Ricardo Valerdi, associate professor of systems and industrial engineering at the University of Arizona, has been inducted into the Academy of Engineering of Mexico for his contributions in academia and the public and private sectors.
Valerdi, 39, joins fewer than 1,000 members -- whose average age is 71 -- and is one of only 25 members living in the United States. He was formally inducted into the academy on Jan. 9, 2017, in Mexico City’s historic Palace of Mining.
“The Academy of Engineering, Mexico, is very pleased to have Ricardo Valerdi as a new member,” said Jose Albarrán, vice president of the organization. “In a full-house ceremony, Ricardo’s work received high praise from the review committee and from Luis Maumejean, the president of our Systems Engineering Commission.”
Other leading researchers in attendance included Javier Mendieta, president of the recently established Mexican Space Agency -- one of many Mexican organizations Valerdi will be working with and increasing the College of Engineering’s visibility in the country.
“Being elected a member of this academy is the pinnacle for me personally and professionally,” Valerdi said. “Having spent more than half of my childhood in Mexico, I was exposed to engineering innovations in telecommunications through my father, Jorge Valerdi, who was also elected to the Academy in the 1980s. Professionally, I feel a responsibility to give back to my native country by providing opportunities to students to reach their potential and help advance the engineering profession in Mexico.”
Such opportunities have included Valerdi’s summer course at the UA, which culminates in a robot soccer tournament, for undergraduates from Mexico’s Tecnológico de Monterrey Sonora Norte Campus.
Cost Estimation Expert, STEM Education Advocate
Valerdi is a world-renowned expert in cost estimation, which applies the tools of mathematics -- statistics, optimization, simulation and mathematical modeling -- to streamline procedures, increase efficiency and minimize risk in organizations. The COSYSMO software he created is widely used by the military and major companies and incorporated into systems engineering curricula at universities around the world.
With faculty in the UA College of Medicine, he also developed the first-ever concussion simulator for NCAA football.
In 2015 Valerdi became the youngest-ever recipient of the Frank Freiman Award for lifetime achievement from the International Cost Estimating and Analysis Association. The previous year he was the first American to be chosen International Estimator of the Year by Galorath Inc. and was a distinguished visiting fellow of the U.K. Royal Academy of Engineering.
A champion of outreach in science, technology, engineering and math, Valerdi founded Arizona Science of Baseball, a curriculum that uses baseball statistics to excite middle-school students and underserved youth about studying STEM subjects.
Participating Major League Baseball teams include the Arizona Diamondbacks -- which held its third D-Backs Science of Baseball STEM Showcase program in the summer of 2016 -- and the Los Angeles Angels, San Diego Padres, Colorado Rockies, Houston Astros, Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves.
He also recruited the LA Galaxy and Orlando Magic basketball teams to join his expanded program, the Science of Sport. With his winning approach to STEM learning, Valerdi has been featured on ESPN, Fox Sports Arizona, and in the Los Angeles Times.