Stephen Welby Eng’87

Running for: Alumni Trustee

Campaign Statement

As a child of blue-collar, immigrant parents, a college education felt like something beyond my reach. Attending the Cooper Union fundamentally changed the course of my life. The lessons I learned, in and out of the classroom, provided the foundation for my lifelong engagement in engineering and technology leadership. Throughout my career, in government, in industrial practice, in the not-for-profit sector and in my own consulting practice, I have been struck by how my experience at Cooper influenced the way I approach problems, pursue solutions and educate myself about new and exciting fields. I have celebrated as friends and colleagues from my time at Cooper have built incredible lives and had enormous positive impacts on their communities and fields. My experience at Cooper reinforced my commitment to public service and my desire to contribute to a community that has given me so much.

I know that my fellow alumni have also found their experience at the Cooper Union transformative and share my interest in ensuring that the Cooper Union remains a vibrant and effective institution far into the future – providing a launchpad for future generations of students, regardless of means, to lead change, give back to their communities and inspire those around them.

I would welcome your support to serve our community as an Alumni Trustee. I support the work of President Sparks and the Board of Trustees in executing the plan to return Cooper Union to full-tuition scholarships for undergraduate students, and I believe this is a critical area of focus for the Board of Trustees. I also believe that it is critical that Cooper Union maintains its reputation for academic quality and that it continues to invest in ensuring its programs remain relevant, important and impactful. As an Alumni Trustee, I hope to bring my strong experience in corporate and government leadership, fiscal oversight, and non-profit governance to the Board. I am confident that I can contribute to the continued progress and success of the Cooper Union and I would greatly appreciate your support.


Stephen Welby retired as Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) at the end of 2022. In this role he led the world’s largest not-for-profit technical professional organization, with operations in 160 countries, and oversaw its highly cited technical publications, conferences, technology standards, and professional and educational activities. Prior to joining IEEE, in 2015 Stephen was nominated by President Obama and confirmed by the US Senate as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering.  In this role, he served as the chief technology officer for the U.S. Department of Defense and oversaw a $12.5B annual research investment portfolio. In 2009, Mr. Welby had been appointed by the President to serve as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Systems Engineering, leading the world’s largest engineering workforce and overseeing design reviews for all major US defense investments in air, land, sea and space systems.

Stephen has more than three decades of government and industrial experience in technology and product development leadership, including senior leadership positions at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).  His technical experience includes development of leading edge aeronautical and space systems, robotics, machine learning systems, high-performance software, and novel sensor systems. He holds a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, a masters degree in business administration from the Texas A&M University, a masters degree in computer science from The Johns Hopkins University and a masters degree in applied mathematics from The Johns Hopkins University. 

Stephen is the 2021 recipient of the CUAA Gano Dunn Award for professional achievement in engineering, a member of the Cooper Union Alumni Hall of Fame, a recipient of the US Secretary of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service, and is a fellow of the IEEE