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UTEP Names Shery Welsh Executive Director of Aerospace Center

National leader in aerospace research transitions to higher education

EL PASO, Texas (June 20, 2024) — The 山ּ of Texas at El Paso has named Shery Welsh, Ph.D., as the next leader of UTEP’s Aerospace Center. Welsh is the former Director of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) and most recently served as Director of the Air Force Research Lab Directed Energy Directorate at Kirtland Air Force Base. With 37 years of federal service in aerospace science and engineering, she has had multiple leadership roles including Director of Science and Technology for the Missile Defense Agency and Chief Engineer for the Airborne Laser Program.

UTEP has named Shery Welsh, Ph.D., as the next leader of UTEP’s Aerospace Center. Welsh is the former Director of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) and most recently served as Director of the Air Force Research Lab Directed Energy Directorate at Kirtland Air Force Base.
UTEP has named Shery Welsh, Ph.D., as the next leader of UTEP’s Aerospace Center. Welsh is the former Director of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) and most recently served as Director of the Air Force Research Lab Directed Energy Directorate at Kirtland Air Force Base.

Welsh will be a Professor of Practice at UTEP and begin her tenure as Executive Director of the Aerospace Center on Monday, July 15.

As Director of the AFOSR in Arlington, Virginia, Welsh oversaw all basic research funded by the Air Force and Space Force with a budget exceeding $500 million. In this role, she led the management of the Department of the Air Force’s global basic research investment with 200 scientists, engineers and administrators in Arlington and foreign technology offices in London; Tokyo; Santiago, Chile; São Paulo, Brazil; and Melbourne, Australia.

“Dr. Welsh is a national aerospace leader who will take UTEP to the next level,” said President Heather Wilson. “Her decades of experience in engineering leadership will help the Aerospace Center reach its full potential in serving the aerospace sector and driving economic development in our region.”

During her remarkable career, Welsh worked on many aerospace programs for the Department of Defense, including the C-130U Gunship, C-17, Joint Strike Fighter, F-16, B-2, F-22, Airborne Laser and the Wide-body Aerial Sensor Platform. 

“Bringing Dr. Welsh to the Aerospace Center is a huge win for UTEP and its plans to lead nationally in aerospace research,” said UT System Chancellor James B. Milliken. “Dr. Welsh’s extraordinary expertise and leadership will accelerate El Paso’s rise in the aerospace domain. I congratulate President Wilson on this important recruitment as UTEP continues to attract top faculty, researchers and innovators. Dr. Welsh’s new role here will be a victory for our students, the engineering and tech industries, and the vast El Paso borderplex.”

“Economic development for our region is a team effort,” said Jon Barela, president and CEO of the Borderplex Alliance. “We look forward to working closely with Dr. Welsh, UTEP and the entire community to attract and grow the aerospace industry, which holds great promise for the Borderplex.”  

As the civilian Director of the Directed Energy Directorate, Welsh led the Department of the Air Force’s Center of Expertise for directed energy and optical technologies, which is responsible for the development and technology transitions in four core technical competencies: laser systems, high power electromagnetics, weapons modeling and simulation, and directed energy and electro-optics for space superiority. 

“I am very excited to join the faculty and staff at UTEP,” Welsh said. “Together we will realize the Center’s full potential to advance aerospace research and engineering and build the aerospace industry into a significant driver of El Paso’s economy.”

In 2023, Welsh was awarded the Air Force Meritorious Civilian Service medal. She holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Materials Science and Engineering from Wright State 山ּ, and a Ph.D. in Materials Science from the 山ּ of Alabama. As a civilian, she also attended the Air Force Air War College. 

Welsh will make her home in El Paso with her husband of 37 years, Joe Welsh, and their two puppies, Magnus and Cersei.

About The 山ּ of Texas at El Paso

The 山ּ of Texas at El Paso is America’s leading Hispanic-serving university. Located at the westernmost tip of Texas, where three states and two countries converge along the Rio Grande, 84% of our 24,000 students are Hispanic, and more than half are the first in their families to go to college. UTEP offers 170 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs at the only open-access, top-tier research university in America.

Last Updated on June 20, 2024 at 12:00 AM | Originally published June 20, 2024

By MC Staff UTEP Marketing and Communications