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|Education||B.S., Mechanical Engineering, Caltech, 2003-2007. Graduate Studies, Robotics Engineering, Università degli Studi di Genova, 2009-2010.|
|Years active||2004 - present|
|Notable work(s)||AI.js, vektor, Convene, CrowdNotes|
|Awards||Special Recognition for Community Outreach by the Laboratory Director, MIT Lincoln Laboratory (2009), Minority Student Education Outstanding Service Award, California Institute of Technology (2007), Caltech President’s Scholar, California Institute of Technology (2003 – 2007), Research In Science and Engineering Award Winner, German Academic Exchange Service (2006).|
Raquel Vélez (Pronunciation: [rakel beleθ]) is a senior Mechanical engineer and software developer currently developing the Node.js package manager (known as npm), and is one of the main contributors to NodeBots. She is an active contributor amongst the open-source development community, most prominently in the San Francisco Bay Area where she lives, and a resident at Recurse Center (formerly Hacker School). She has previously worked at Caltech, NASA JPL, the MIT Lincoln Laboratory, and various universities in Europe.
Vélez was internationally educated at schools and universities in the US, France, Germany, and Italy and is a featured speaker at events and conferences throughout the United States, covering topics such as technology, robotics, and storytelling. She speaks English, Spanish, French, German, and Italian .
Vélez has contributed to a high volume of open source projects and is an active member in the web development industry .
Vélez parents were both chemical engineers. When still in high school, Vélez was convinced that she was going to be a film-maker, in particular, she wanted to do altered-reality and science-fiction-like films to explore the human reality. In her last years of high school, she was so good at maths and science, that she was invited to a local university where a lot of different engineers where presenting different topics. One of those speakers was a mechanical engineer, who showed the audience a robot she had built. Vélez was utterly impressed at the fact that somebody could made a real robot with their own hands, since, for her, they were just fictional movie characters made with special effects .
This engineering event was a life-changer for her, and that same day she told her parents that she wanted to be a roboticist. At the time, she was more interested in building the robots than in the software, which she considered just "a means to an end". She went on to study mechanical engineering at Caltech and enrolled in the DARPA Grand Challenge. There were three teams, electronics, mechanics and software, and everybody was in the mechanics and electronic teams while nobody wanted to join the software team. Vélez joined the software team, since she was the only one who had done anything at all with code before.
After this experience, Vélez started getting involved in programming more and more, to the point that when she was finishing college, she was not as interested in robots as she was before. In 2009, just after the first semester, she dropped out the masters program in robotics she had started, because it got too theoretical with too few experimentation. Vélez felt that the robotics environment was too competitive, and having to pursue a PhD was not in her plans, since she didn't want to work on a long term project.
Leaving academia and working with node
Vélez finished internships in robotics at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Machine Vision Group, the Chair of Mechanics and Mechatronics, University of Duisburg-Essen, the Caltech RoboRescue Team, the MIT Lincoln Laboratory (in which she became leader/Co-founder of the Robotics Outreach), Applied Minds, founded Lightbulb Robotics and went to work at a startup in a blogging community for Hispanic women as a CTO.
Around 2011 she turned her interest into the internet and software development, specially front-end development.
In 2012 Vélez started working with Node.js, which at the time was new, and there were no tutorials or resources around. She started working on node full-time as a full-stack developer in several start-ups. Since the core members of the node community where living in San Francisco, Vélez and her husband decided to move there. She continued showing up at meet-ups and participating in conferences.
Leadership and contributions
Vélez has also been a board member and press liaison for Hackerspace Charlotte from 2011 to 2012, board member for the Latin American Coalition from 2011 to 2012, and Vice Chair for the World Economic Forum Global Shapers Charlotte Hub from 2011 to 2013.
Due to her notability, Vélez has been invited as a speaker to some of the most important conferences and live events in the tech industry, like JSConf, jQuery conference, CascadiaJS, Robots Conf., or Platzi Live, among others.
Soon after npm launched from Node.js, this open source technology has become the runtime of choice for high-performance, low latency, I/O asynchronous applications, which are built on top of Node.js, ranging from robots to API engines to cloud stacks and mobile websites. Web applications like those of Fidelity, IBM, The Linux Foundation, PayPal or Microsoft are build on top of it.
- "Hilariously, Isaac Emailed Me" with Raquel Vélez - DESCRIPTIVE - 15 May 2015.
- Rockbot - CodeNewbie Podcast - 20 April 2015
- 013: With Raquel Vélez - Ghost Talk Podcast - 19 May 2014.
- 103 JSJ Robots with Raquel Vélez - JSJabber Podcast - 9 April 2014.
- Controlling Robots with node.js and Johnny-Five with Raquel Vélez - The Hanselminutes Podcast - 4 October 2013.
- A Gentle Introduction to node.js with Raquel Velez - The Hanselminutes Podcast - 14 June 2013.
Views on diversity
Vélez has called the attention of the media over the topic of discrimination and unconscious bias against minorities in the tech industry. She has said she made a point of working at top universities such as Caltech and MIT to burnish her credentials, and she is not surprised Hispanics earn less in high tech, "Not only because I am Hispanic but because I'm female, I have had to work four times as hard as most of the folks in the industry".
She remembers being annoyed by the fact that, during her studies at Caltech, and not having a lot of women around, she sometimes was ignored due to unconscious prejudices. In particular, she remembers doing homework with her male classmates, telling them that she had the answer to a problem they were trying to solve, and nobody paying attention to her, until somebody else found the same answer. Vélez confessed that at first these systematic misogynistic situations got to her, but she didn't allow it to happen again and tried to focus in doing what she loved.
She maintains a list of Women Who Node  for women who are "not only Node devs, but also could be asked to speak at conferences". She also compiled a list of Latin American developers  and wrote a viral post about hiring diverse teams . She has also been cited as an inspiration for people who want to become developers too.
- "Raquel Vélez at npm Inc.". npmjs.com. 2015. https://www.npmjs.com/~rockbot.
- "Former Node leader takes big money, launches npm". Venture Beat. 2014-02-11. http://venturebeat.com/2014/02/11/former-node-leader-takes-big-money-launches-node-startup/.
- "Raquel Vélez at NodeBots.". nodebots.io. 2015. http://nodebots.io/core.html.
- "Raquel Vélez at Recurse Center.". Recurse Center. 2015. https://www.recurse.com/residents.
- "Minorities earn less in skilled jobs, research says". USA Today. 2014-10-09. http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2014/10/09/high-tech-pay-gap-hispanics-asians-african-americans/16606121/.
- "Repositories contributed to by Raquel Vélez.". GitHub.com. 2015. https://github.com/rockbot?tab=repositories.
- "Ep. 32 Rockbot". CodeNewie. 2015-04-20. http://www.codenewbie.org/podcast/rockbot.
- "Random Walk". CalTech Engineering and Science, Volume LXVII, Number 1, p.6. 2004. http://calteches.library.caltech.edu/689/1/ES67.1.2004.pdf.
- "18: Hilariously, Isaac Emailed Me with Raquel Vélez". DESCRIPTIVE - Programmer origin stories. 2015-05-15. http://descriptive.audio/episodes/18.
- "NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Machine Vision Group". robotics.jpl.nasa.gov. 2015. https://www-robotics.jpl.nasa.gov/groups/ComputerVision/.
- "JPL Robotics: Group: Summer Interns - 2004". robotics.jpl.nasa.gov. 2004. https://www-robotics.jpl.nasa.gov/groups/summerEmployees.cfm?FuseAction=ShowSummerEmployees&Year=2004.
- "Chair of Mechanics and Mechatronics, University of Duisburg-Essen". www.uni-due.de. 2015. https://www.uni-due.de/mechatronik/index_en.php.
- "MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Outreach: Robotics". www.ll.mit.edu. 2015. https://www.ll.mit.edu/outreach/ROLL.html.
- "MIT Lincoln Laboratory: News: Lincoln Laboratory is on a "ROLL"". www.ll.mit.edu. November 2008. https://www.ll.mit.edu/news/roll.html.
- "Raquel Vélez Résumé". rckbt.me. 2015. http://rckbt.me/resume/.
- "Escúchame.org". linkedin.com. 2015. https://www.linkedin.com/company/esc-chame-inc..
- "From Roboticist to Web Developer". rckbt.me. 2012-01-01. http://rckbt.me/2012/01/from-roboticist-to-web-developer/.
- "Raquel Vélez: Evolution of a Developer". JSConf EU 2014. 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rP1q6oIVco4.
- "Raquel Vélez". blog.npmjs.org. 2014. http://blog.npmjs.org/post/74774825040/raquel-v%C3%A9lez.
- "Latin American Coalition". latinamericancoalition.org. 2015. http://www.latinamericancoalition.org/blog/54/whats-your-story.
- "World Economic Forum Global Shapers". www.globalshapers.org. 2015. http://www.globalshapers.org/es/shapers/raquel-velez.
- "JSConf 2013". jsconf.us. 2013. http://2013.jsconf.us/speakers.
- "jQuery Conference 2013". jsconf.us. 2013. http://events.jquery.org/2013/portland/#speakers.
- "Cascadia JS 2013". cascadiajs.com. 2013. http://2013.cascadiajs.com/.
- "Robots Conf 2014". robotsconf.com. 2014. http://2014.robotsconf.com/speakers.html.
- "Platzi Live review in Tech Crunch". techcrunch.com. 2015. http://techcrunch.com/2015/03/20/platzi/.
- "Small Packages of Code Are the Biggest Thing in App-Making". www.wired.com. 2015-04-15. http://www.wired.com/2015/04/npm-funding/.
- "Why Node.js is becoming the go-to technology in the Enterprise". www.nearform.com. 2014-10-03. http://www.nearform.com/nodecrunch/node-js-becoming-go-technology-enterprise/.
- "Node.js Foundation Opens Up with Industry- and Community-wide Support". www.linuxfoundation.org. 2015-06-16. http://www.linuxfoundation.org/news-media/blogs/browse/2015/06/nodejs-foundation-opens-industry-and-community-wide-support.
- "Node.js at PayPal". www.paypal-engineering.com. 2013-11-22. https://www.paypal-engineering.com/2013/11/22/node-js-at-paypal/.
- "Microsoft Joins Industry in Move to Create Node.js Foundation". msopentech.com. 2015-02-10. https://msopentech.com/blog/2015/02/10/microsoft-joins-industry-in-move-to-create-node-js-foundation/.
- "Microsoft launches Node.js tools for Visual Studio". techcrunch.com. 2013-11-21. http://techcrunch.com/2013/11/21/microsoft-launches-node-js-tools-for-visual-studio/.
- "NodeBots main page". nodebots.io. 2015. http://nodebots.io/.
- "Reactive podcast". reactive.audio. 2015. http://reactive.audio/.
- "Contributions by Raquel Vélez". The Pastry Box. 2014. https://the-pastry-box-project.net/baker/raquel-velez.
- "013: With Raquel Vélez". Ghostalk. 2014-05-19. http://talk.ghost.io/13/.
- "JSJ Robots with Raquel Vélez". DevChat.TV. 2014-09-04. http://devchat.tv/js-jabber/103-jsj-robots-with-raquel-velez.
- "Controlling Robots with node.js and Johnny-Five with Raquel Vélez". Hansel minutes. 2013-10-04. http://hanselminutes.com/391/controlling-robots-with-nodejs-and-johnny-five-with-raquel-vlez.
- "A gentle introduction to node.js with Raquel Vélez". Hansel minutes. 2013-06-14. http://hanselminutes.com/376/a-gentle-introduction-to-nodejs-with-raquel-velez.
- "Women Who Node". Twitter. 2015. https://twitter.com/rockbot/lists/women-who-node.
- "Latism". Twitter. 2015. https://twitter.com/rockbot/lists/latism/members.
- "Needles". The Pastry Box. 2014-08-04. https://the-pastry-box-project.net/raquel-velez/2014-august-4.
- "No boys allowed: Girls Who Code takes on gender gap". USA today. 2014-08-15. http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2014/08/12/girls-who-code-facebook-sheryl-sandberg/13784445/.