Betty P. Chao (1983, Ph.D.) is the founder, president and chief executive officer of Westech International Inc. (WESTECH), a premier high-technology, small business headquartered in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Chao organized WESTECH in 1994 to provide quality services to the government and commercial sectors.
WESTECH has grown from one full-time employee to approximately 900 employees at its height. Currently WESTECH has approximately 250 employees.
Born in Taiwan, Chao was in the third grade when her family moved to the United States. She began her school career not knowing the English language. Her father tutored her at nights and on weekends to bring her up to par with the rest of the student body, avoiding a drop down to the first grade. She gained proficiency in English within a few months and represented her school district in the annual Spelling Bee Contest. When she started college in 1973, she excelled academically to secure scholarships to pay for her tuition. Her schooling was completely funded by scholarships and teaching and research assistantships. She earned a bachelor of science degree and a master of science degree in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research from the University of Michigan.
Ingrained with the value of education as an avenue to open opportunities to a better future for her by her father, she enrolled in a Ph.D. program in engineering six months after he passed away suddenly at an early age.
Prior to receiving a Ph.D. in Industrial & Systems Engineering from Virginia Tech, she was recruited by Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) in Albuquerque. Subsequently, she began her career at SNL, providing technical support in the electrical/mechanical designs associated with nuclear warheads She worked at SNL for ten years and left in 1994 to follow another dream, to build her own company. Chao incorporated Westech International, Inc. on December 30, 1994 in New
Mexico and began operations on January 1, 1995. She generated small contracts that she could perform and manage herself. She slowly continued to acquire and win larger and larger contracts, and expanded to 20 operating locations in 15 states.
She continues to expand her company’s customer base and contract backlog through her reputation for delivering high-quality technical products and services. Since inception, the company has earned an average of 98% award fees on prime contracts with federal agencies. In addition, the company has maintained its core competencies in test and evaluation of Department of Defense (DoD) weapon systems, engineering and technical services for the Department of Energy in nuclear material disposition, and operations and maintenance of equipment associated with the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile program.
Chao served on the University of Michigan, Engineering School’s Engineering Advisory Council; the Small Business Advisory Committee for the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce; and the Board of Directors for the Kirtland Partnership Committee. She served on the Governing Board of Directors for the Women’s Hospital; Executive Board of Directors for the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce; and Board Member for the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra.