Welcome to CienciaPR, an expert and resource network for all who are interested in science and Puerto Rico.
I am an astronomy educator who has taught at all academic levels, from primary school to university. My experience also comprises delivery of continuing education and teacher training, along with curriculum and course development. I have additionally lectured on related STEM disciplines such as Earth science, mathematics and computer science.
My career includes over a decade in the information technology field, hence my affinity of computers. I have worked with large grant-funded projects in areas such as healthcare and education, and consistently serve in leadership roles with non-profit organizations—notably the Puerto Rico Astronomy Society, a NASA-affiliated group which I led for six years.
After a competitive review process I was selected as a participant of the 2014–2015 Antarctic field season of PolarTREC, a professional development program funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). In January 2015 I traveled to the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station to conduct maintenance and support work at the IceCube Neutrino Observatory.
As a speaker I have presented hundreds of lectures to groups as large as 500 people. I have also developed and launched a number of public science initiatives, and more recently joined efforts with government and non-profits to reduce light pollution levels across the island. My endeavors are regularly reported by the media, with coverage spanning all seven continents.
I am a recipient of the Antarctica Service Medal of the United States of America (2015) from the NSF. My contributions to education have been recognized by the Puerto Rico Science Teachers Association (2015), the UNESCO Center for Culture (2013), the International Astronomical Union (2010), the Puerto Rico Academy of Arts and Sciences (2008), and NASA / JPL (2005).
University of Puerto Rico–Aguadilla — Aguadilla, PR
Instructor of Astronomy (2015 to present)
Currently working as instructor of astronomy at the University of Puerto Rico–Aguadilla teaching a newly-offered astronomy extension course (24 contact hours).
University of Wisconsin–River Falls — River Falls, WI
Upward Bound Summer Instructor (2014 to 2015)
Worked with the Department of Physics at the University of Wisconsin–River Falls as an Upward Bound summer instructor teaching 36 secondary-level students per season (45 contact hours). Topics are delivered using an inquiry-based curriculum developed around themes related to research by the IceCube South Pole Neutrino Observatory.
Ana G. Méndez University System / Metropolitan University — San Juan, PR
Instructor of Astronomy (2014 to present)
Currently working as instructor of astronomy at Metropolitan University's Center for Sustainable Development (i.e., CEDES) in collaboration with the School of Continuing Education.
Teamed up with university staff to design a newly-offered astronomy program leading to an 8-course, 100-hour certificate. Advised extensively on course content, faculty recruitment and marketing strategies. Courses provide a visual, descriptive view of astronomy covering all major topics including: 1) the celestial sphere, 2) the Solar System, 3) stars and exoplanets, and 4) galaxies and the Universe. Teaching three core courses (12 to 16 contact hours each) and one elective, with student evaluations over time consistently surpassing 4.7 on a 5-point scale.
G Works, Inc. — Guaynabo, PR / Juncos, PR
Specialist Teacher of Astronomy (2013 to 2015)
Worked as a primary and secondary-level teacher with G Works, Inc., an after-school STEM program supporting three schools for the Puerto Rico Department of Education, under a grant from the 21st Century Community Learning Centers federal program.
Designed and delivered a newly-offered astronomy program geared to students from 5th to 12th grade. Course was half lecture and half workshop (8 to 16 contact hours per student) with an average yearly audience of 300. Conducted teacher training (4 contact hours per educator) and engaged with the community via live Internet seminars concentrating on space science and earth science. Additionally oversaw the acquisition and use of astronomical instrumentation.
Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico — Ponce, PR / San Juan, PR
Lecturer of Astronomy and Mathematics (2011 to 2015)
Worked as a university lecturer at St. John the Baptist Regional Major Seminary (i.e., Seminario Mayor Regional San Juan Bautista), a Catholic seminary and extension center at Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico. Taught four undergraduate, 3-credit courses as a primary instructor, with full responsibility over course content, delivery and evaluation.
Taught a course on introductory astronomy (2011 to 2015) with a focus on conceptual, non-mathematical comprehension. Introduced a new, overhauled course syllabus with a requirement for periodical astronomy viewing sessions. Also taught two mathematics courses (2014 to 2015), namely MATH 117 and MATH 118, and one computer science course (2014).
Information Technology (IT) Consultant
Self-employed (2009 to 2014)
Managed two corporate clients as a freelance IT consultant. Worked with a law firm (2009 to 2014) as a system administrator, providing support for all computing infrastructure including specialty legal applications. Also worked with a federally qualified health center (2013 to 2014) furnishing technical advice on three main areas: 1) hardware and software optimization, 2) electronic health record streamlining, and 3) Uniform Data System (UDS) reporting. Additionally, assisted with IT staff recruitment and transition management.
Concilio de Salud Integral de Loíza (CSILO), Inc. — Loíza, PR
Information Technology (IT) Manager (2007 to 2013)
Summary: Sought out and hired by a former supervisor as IT manager for this federally qualified health center. Directed all IT operations, supporting a 150-user computing environment.
Main accomplishments: Appointed in 2011 as an IT expert to an inter-company committee headed by the Puerto Rico Primary Care Association (PCA) to advise on electronic health record (EHR) solutions and to assist with vendor selection and negotiations. After a successful purchase agreement that was signed by 13 PCA-member corporations went on to lead CSILO's own EHR implementation—a $300K project, achieving 70% completion ahead of schedule—with the adoption of the SuccessEHS and MediaDent software packages by over 80 clinicians.
Detailed description: Reported to executive director and interacted with top management on a daily basis. Provided mentoring and supervision to one regular employee and undergraduate student interns. Upon hiring initiated a major refurbishment of existing computing systems. Built a technology roadmap and directed deployment of new infrastructure including fiber-optics Internet solutions, digital X-ray technology and EHR systems. Managed contractors and vendors on multiple projects and oversaw IT budget and acquisition. Developed corporate IT policies and monitored compliance with quality regulations. Acted as the IT liaison with major healthcare organizations such as the US Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the Joint Commission. Together with key staff drafted successful proposals for large grant-funded projects ($80K to $3M) assuming a leading role in grant follow-up and reporting. Designed end-user computer training and lectured extensively with audiences. Volunteered with at least three standing committees, serving one year as Security Committee chairman.
Academia del Perpetuo Socorro — San Juan, PR
Teacher of Computer Science (2006)
Worked as a computer science teacher at this Catholic, bilingual, college preparatory institution. Taught one semester of introductory computing to 47 secondary-level students. Emphasized then-emerging topics such as digital photography, open source software and healthcare informatics. Revised course syllabus and created weekly lesson plans, materials and activities.
Arctic Research Consortium of the United States (ARCUS) — Fairbanks, AK
PolarTREC Teacher (2013 to 2015)
Appointed in November 2013 to assist with research at the IceCube South Pole Neutrino Observatory. Selected after a competitive review process—as one of 12 successful candidates from a national pool of 190 applicants—for the 2014–2015 Antarctic season of PolarTREC, a professional development program managed by ARCUS and funded by the US National Science Foundation that pairs scientists with teachers to provide field deployments to polar regions.
Trained with ARCUS in Fairbanks, Alaska (February 2014) and met with IceCube staff at the Wisconsin IceCube Particle Astrophysics Center in Madison, Wisconsin (July 2014). Traveled to Antarctica in January 2015 spending a total of 18 days. Deployed to the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station from January 11 to January 21, conducting ten days of maintenance and support work at the IceCube telescope. Stayed for eight additional days at McMurdo Station in Ross Island, near the Antarctica coast, while in transit to and from the pole.
Worked in four main areas: 1) Testing the Askaryan Radio Array (ARA), a new experiment that will measure radio waves generated by the interaction of neutrinos with the Antarctic ice. 2) Troubleshooting of muon taggers at the IceTop experiment, which studies the interaction of cosmic rays with the Earth's atmosphere. 3) Measurement of snow accumulation over IceTop tanks to identify possible detrimental effects of snow coverage on cosmic ray detection. 4) Support of public outreach efforts for IceCube, which included writing online, daily journals, as well as participating in live Internet presentations from the pole.
Performance during deployment was rated as "outstanding" in post-field report. Starting in February 2015 went on to share the experience both at the classroom and with the public, reaching 60 educators, 190 students and over 1,000 people in three months. Details available at: http://www.polartrec.com/resources/report/public-science-report-armando-....
Puerto Rico Science Teachers Association (PRSTA) — San Juan, PR
Vice President (2012 to 2013)
Assisted the president during a time of intense organizational change, submitting approaches for reengineering and arranging the launch of a new PRSTA website, http://www.prsta.org/.
Puerto Rico Astronomy Society (PRAS) — Bayamón, PR
President / Editor-in-chief / Lead Educator (2005 to present)
President (2005 to 2007, 2010 to 2013, 2015 to 2016): Exercised corporate governance and ran daily operations for this non-profit astronomy organization, the island's oldest and an affiliate of NASA's Puerto Rico Space Grant Consortium. Presided over monthly board meetings and provided leadership to a core staff of eight officers. Managed budgets and secured income, attaining a significant increase in membership and donation rates. Initiated and led successful efforts to obtain tax exemption and to achieve trademark protection of PRAS business brands. Drafted, spearheaded and secured approval for a revised corporate constitution. Invigorated social media presence and overhauled the PRAS website, http://www.astronomiapr.org/. Interacted with schools, colleges, non-profits and government at all levels, engaging in collaborative alliances. Directed an education and outreach program with yearly live audience numbers surpassing the 5,000 mark, which has earned commendation from NASA for overcoming the challenges of limited volunteer resources and budget constraints.
Editor-in-chief (2015 to present): Currently overseeing all aspects of "El Observador" (i.e., The Observer), a NASA-funded, quarterly 40-page astronomy magazine targeting 120 schools, colleges, PRAS members and the scientific community. Also launching new editorial projects such as book-length publications—with two titles so far—and handling the production of a comprehensive digital archive that will contain every printed page since 1985.
Lead educator (2005 to present): Wrote successful press releases—about 25 per year—explaining the latest events and discoveries in the Universe. Appeared in radio and television interviews, and lectured widely at both academic and non-academic venues. Planned and conducted astronomy viewing nights with attendance in the hundreds and live media coverage. Teamed up with government and non-profits to raise awareness of the light pollution issue.
NASA / Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) — Pasadena, CA
Solar System Ambassador (2004 to 2006)
Selected as a member of the Solar System Ambassadors (SSA) program, a public outreach initiative designed to work with motivated volunteers across the nation. Wrote and delivered presentations on space exploration achieving an average direct audience of 400 per year. Trained regularly with planetary scientists and reported yearly outcomes back to NASA. Advised and inspired a number of space enthusiasts who later on went to become SSA members themselves.
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