Alumna Betty P. Chao, the founder, president, and chief executive officer of Westech International Inc., is the 2011 recipient of Virginia Tech’s University Distinguished Achievement Award.
Presented annually, the award recognizes nationally distinguished achievement in any field of enduring significance to society.
Chao, of Albuquerque, N.M., established Westech in 1994 as a one-person consulting business focused on providing technical services to the government and commercial sectors. Today, her fast-growing company, headquartered in Albuquerque, has annual revenue of $30 million and employs 300 people across 14 states.
A native of Taiwan, Chao moved with her family to the United States when she was in the third grade. She credits her father with ingraining in her the value of education as an avenue to opportunities and a better future.
Chao earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Michigan before entering the industrial and systems engineering Ph.D. program within Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering. After earning her doctorate in 1983, she went to work for Sandia National Laboratories, a government-owned, contractor-operated facility that describes its mission as developing science-based technologies in support of U.S. national security.
Among the many awards bestowed on Chao or Westech are the New Mexico Ethics in Business Award for Ethical Entrepreneurship in 2011; the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Administrator Award of Excellence in 2010, 2004, and 2000; and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Regional Technology Firm of the Year award in 2001.
Chao serves on the Small Business Advisory Committee for the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, the board of advisors to the U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce, and the board of directors for the Kirtland Partnership Committee.
She also has served on the executive board of directors for the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce and the board for the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra.
Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.