Rodriguez, an entrepreneur in software engineering, most recently founded Knowledge Management Associates, an information technology consulting firm. A past member of the MIT Corporation, he earned a bachelor’s in 1960, a master’s in 1961, and a PhD in 1968, all in electrical engineering and computer science. On his first day in Boston in 1958, he enrolled in a Boston University program to learn English and met his future wife, Theano, who died in 2003. Rodriguez has two children and eight grandchildren, and the family loved to travel.
“I was born in a tiny sugar mill town in Cuba, where school ended in fifth grade. At 10, I headed for Havana, 400 miles away, and I excelled through high school. After two years at the University of Havana, I earned a scholarship and entered MIT. At first, I was just trying to adapt to new people and a new culture. I was struggling with English, but little by little, I learned enough to understand. As a Latin student, it was not easy. Recently, I established a travel fund to make it possible for under-represented minority high-school students to visit the Institute. MIT reaches out to find and attract the best minority students in the world, and that’s something to invest in. Now students in MIT’s Weekend Immersion in Science and Engineering (WISE) program have a chance to fly to MIT from across the world to tour the campus, meet professors, and visit labs, inspiring them to apply. Of the 60 students who participated last year, 49 applied and 22 were admitted. This year, 90 can participate. I really want to invest in people. That’s what life is about.”