Colombia Purdue Initiative — CPI

Carlos Vanegas is a successful entrepreneur. Last year, the start-up that he co-founded was sold to Autodesk, one of the largest engineering software companies in the US. In his early thirties, Carlos is already an important name in the 3D software world.

But his story is worth telling from the beginning.

He earned his B. A. in Mathematical Engineering at EAFIT, where he was among the first cohort of students to graduate from that program. His undergraduate studies were fully funded by the Andres Bello Scholarship, which was awarded to him for academic excellence. While at EAFIT, Carlos participated in a research group at the CAD/CAM/CAE lab led by Professor Oscar Ruiz, who motivated him to pursue doctoral studies. Carlos applied to Purdue’s Ph.D. program in the Department of Computer Science, and after a few months, he received his acceptance letter with a funding offer through a Teaching Assistantship. He remembers being very excited: “I was very happy to have the opportunity to go to one of the best engineering and science schools in the world, and I found the research problems at the Computer Graphics lab to be tremendously interesting--so I accepted the offer early, before hearing from the other schools I had applied to." While pursuing his graduate studies, and with help from his advisor, Professor Daniel Aliaga, he received scholarships from the National Science Foundation and the Purdue Research Foundation.

His academic performance has taken him to interesting places around the world. He pursued an undergraduate research internship at Universidad de Vigo in Spain, and a graduate internship at ETH Zurich in Switzerland. It was at ETH where he first worked closely with architects and urban planners. After graduating from Purdue in 2012, Carlos accepted an offer for a position at the University of California, Berkeley, working as a Postdoctoral Scholar under the supervision of Professor Paul Waddell, Head of the Urban Planning Department.

It was precisely with some colleagues and with Dr. Waddel, Head of the Urban Planning Department at Berkeley, that he created Synthicity. They developed a software called Urban Canvas that has become an important tool for understanding, through 3D modelling, the behavior of cities. The software has been welcomed by urban planners, academic experts, architects, and even politicians.

Carlos is now a Software Architect at Autodesk. He lives in a small town in the hills east of San Francisco, with his wife, Audrey, and is the happy father of a 3 year-old, Samuel. He loves talking about new ideas and sharing his early experience in entrepreneurship with anyone who shares his passion for it. Last fall, he gave a talk at Purdue about startups hoping to entice undergraduate and graduate boilermakers to pursue this path of creative adventure and venture creation.

 

Carlos with his family the day of his graduation from Purdue. From left to right: his wife Audrey Collec, Carlos, his mother Clemencia Grisales, and his father German Vanegas.

 

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