STEM Professional of the week

Vincent Urias      
Sandia National Laboratories

Vincent was raised by his grandparents, both originally from Guatemala who immigrated to the U.S. in the 1960’s. As a family, they moved from Manhattan to Albuquerque, New Mexico when Vincent was six years old. Dedicated to their grandchild and his upbringing, they taught him to take responsibility for his own life, to give back to his community and to his country. A curious boy who broke things while taking them apart to see how they worked, he was also entrepreneurial starting a candy selling business in elementary school. He saved his money and bought things that his grandparents could not afford, like a soldering kit.

Vincent grew up in neighborhood labeled the “War Zone” made up of hard working but largely impoverished immigrants with its share of violence and gang problems as well as remarkable diversity. Vincent stayed out of trouble becoming involved in extracurricular activities and one of those, the Upward Bound Program gave him the opportunity to spend a high school summer at the University of New Mexico taking classes in math, literature, science and electives. Vincent took advantage of many opportunities this program would offer.

His entrepreneurial spirit got him taking community college classes while still in high school and in his sophomore year, he was accepted for an internship at Sandia National Laboratories in its computer support unit. With the support of mentors, he was soon one of the go-to techs fixing computers and getting networks running again. A CyberCorps Scholarship for Service allowed him to stay at Sandia after graduation. He continued to excel and taking associated undergraduate and graduate level internships while earning his bachelor’s and master’s degree in computer science from New Mexico Tech.

Today, Vincent Urias is a computer engineer, and Principal Member of Technical Staff in Sandia’s Cyber Analysis Research Development Department continuing to make major contributions to Sandia’s cyber defense programs, especially in the simulation of complex networks, in developing innovative cyber security methods, and in designing exercise scenarios that test the limits of current network security. This work is helping Sandia’s customers anticipate current and emerging security threats and make critical decisions about their investments.

Vincent and his team use technologies to conduct cyber defense exercises in partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense, and to support national security in collaboration with colleagues at other U.S. Department of Energy national laboratories, Department of Defense national laboratories, and the U.S. military.

Vincent gives back to the community in a variety of ways, providing guidance and inspiration to college interns in the lab’s Center for Cyber Defenders, he supports building computer labs for local organizations and is also helping to create an Urban Wildlife Refuge in Albuquerque’s South Valley among other things. Vincent is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in computer science, at New Mexico Tech. He was honored by GMiS with a HENAAC Luminary Award in October of 2016.

View More Professionals of the Week