Scholar of the Week

Ilia A. Bautista Adames
University of South Florida

From a young age, Ilia A. Bautista Adames learned that he could overcome any challenge in pursuit of his dreams. For his dedication to academic excellence, and continued support of minority students in STEM, Ilia was presented the Intel Scholarship for a second time by Great Minds in STEM at the 2019 Conference. Ilia is currently pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy in Electrical Engineering, anticipating graduating in May 2020.

Though his family’s life in the Dominican Republic was impacted by financial instability, it never deterred Ilia from pursuing his dreams. Ilia and his parents made the difficult decision for him to move to Santo Domingo to live with his aunt at the age of 12 to pursue new educational opportunities. Ilia enrolled at Pontificia Universidad Catolica Madre y Maestra to pursue a Bachelor’s in Electronics Engineering. Financial restraints forced Ilia to move from the Dominican Republic to the United States, where despite the adjustment of moving to a new country, Ilia was able to continue his studies and pursue an Associate Degree in Engineering Science at Bronx Community College while working as a full-time cashier.

Seeking to fully immerse himself in his education, Ilia transferred to full-time classes at Binghamton University and conducted research with the help of the Ronald McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program and the NSF Louis Strokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP). Ilia then enrolled in the University of South Florida’s doctoral program with a focus on machine intelligence and is now part of the Nano Computing Research Group. Through his research, Ilia was selected for a McKnight Dissertation Fellowship, a GMIS Intel Scholarship for two years, and is currently a recipient of an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship.

Ilia recognized how critical support is for STEM students and decided to take an active role by joining support organizations, such as the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), where he advised and mentored undergraduate students through their academic journeys. Ilia also helped community college transfers like himself to acclimate to the Binghamton University environment. At USF, Ilia worked through the school’s Engineering Honor Society and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) where promoted STEM, sharing “More than anything else, I have a passion for igniting students’ interest in engineering and technology by exposing them to fun and interactive activities.”

After the completion of his doctorate, Ilia aims to lead a diverse research group to understand the processing of information through machine learning, while additionally supporting organizations which increase participation of underrepresented students in STEM. As a testament to his beliefs, Ilia attributes his success to those who have supported him, stating “Being a participant in diversity programs and professional societies has enabled me to attain a level of success that otherwise would never have been possible.” For his academic excellence and unyielding commitment to exciting the next generation of STEM students, GMIS is proud to recognize Ilia as Scholar of the Week.

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