May 8, 2019 | Katherine Adams
Evelyn R. Miralles spent her career at NASA helping astronauts prepare for space missions. She is an internationally recognized pioneer in the field of virtual reality, who co-created spacewalk training software, in use since 2000. On May 1, she launched a new flight path as Associate Vice President for Strategic Information Initiatives and Technology at the University of Houston-Clear Lake.
“I welcome this new position because I know that education is extremely important,” Miralles said. “This university has the capacity to continue to stand out and be ready for the 21st century. That’s why I’m here to support UHCL after my long career at NASA.”
Her position was made possible through generous funding from a private source. “This gift will enhance students’ curiosity, strengthen their educational experiences and encourage them to innovate in STEM fields to make a meaningful impact on Earth and beyond,” said UHCL President Ira K. Blake.
Miralles, who received her Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems in 1992 and a Master of Business Administration in 2012 from UHCL, spoke of her own student experience as important and meaningful. “I received a solid background in technology, computer information, and business acumen. I became part of an educational community that challenged me constantly to maintain the research and opportunities that ultimately got me to NASA,” she said. “One of the main reasons I’m here is that I know the quality of education this university brings to students.”
Miralles believes that now is a critical time to advance STEM initiatives at UHCL. She explained that in her new role, she will be chief strategist for the engagement of educational programs and external potential partners, offering her expertise in identifying high value technologies that support state-of-the-art teaching and learning models and providing her vision in the integrative areas of science, innovation and technology.
“I’ll be supporting UHCL President Blake’s agenda, as well as the Office of University Advancement, the Office of Strategic Partnerships, and project support to faculty and students,” she said. “There are many varied, exciting and challenging duties, which I’m looking forward to.”
Because an excellent education is so critical, Miralles said that she always had in mind to begin a second career in an academic setting. “Over the years, I have observed and personally experienced what this university has accomplished in the community,” she said. “UHCL was created in the era when we were sending people to the moon, and it’s been an instrumental resource for the local space exploration community. Because of my background at NASA in strategizing and creating vision for human space exploration, coming here was a natural step.”
In 2016, the BBC chose Miralles as one of the 100 Most Influential and Inspirational Women in the World. In 2015 and 2016, CNET en Español chose her as one of the Top 20 Most Influential Latinos in Technology.
“I’m a woman and I’m a minority,” said Miralles, a native-born Venezuelan and U.S. citizen. “I want to show current and future students at UHCL that anything is possible with education, determination, and creativity. I hope to challenge them to see that successful outcomes in one’s career is possible for them.