Virginia Tech alumna and entrepreneur Betty P. Chao, founder, president, and chief executive officer of WESTECH International Inc., will give the keynote address at the university’s 2011 Graduate Commencement ceremony to be held Friday, May 13.

The event will begin at 2:30 p.m. in Cassell Coliseum located on the Blacksburg campus. Approximately 1,000 Virginia Tech graduate and professional students are expected to complete their degree requirements and participate in the ceremony.

Chao established WESTECH in 1994 as a one-person consulting business focused on providing technical services to the government and commercial sectors. Today, the fast growing, woman-owned company headquartered in Albuquerque, N.M., employs approximately 800 persons with annual revenues of $75 million.

A native of Taiwan, Chao’s family moved to the United States when she was in the third grade. She attended the University of Michigan in 1973 and completed her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in by 1979.

Ingrained with the value of education as an avenue to open opportunities to a better future, she then enrolled at Virginia Tech’s industrial and systems engineering Ph.D. program. After completing her degree in 1983, she went to work for Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque providing technical support in projects associated with the primary mission of the laboratory.

When Chao founded WESTECH in 1994, she generated small contracts that she could perform and manage herself.  She began to win and larger contracts, affording her the ability to add more technical and administrative staff, and soon she was able to expand to 20 operating locations in 15 states.  Today, Chao continues to expand her company’s customer base and contract backlog due to her reputation for delivering high-quality technical products and services.

Chao and her company have often been cited for the quality of products and services. Among the many awards received, Chao was honored with the New Mexico Ethics in Business Award for Ethical Entrepreneurship in 2011; the Small Business Administration’s Administrator Award of Excellence in 2010, 2004, and 2000; and the Department of Commerce’s Regional Technology Firm of the Year in 2001.

Currently, 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 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.

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