URI assistant diversity director for College of Engineering wins award from Providence tech education group

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KINGSTON, R.I., April 12, 2016—Charles A. Watson, assistant director of diversity at the University of Rhode Island’s College of Engineering, has received another honor—this one from IntraCity Geeks, a Providence-based organization that teaches computer skills to students in urban areas.

Watson, 51, of Cranston, will receive the group’s “Innovation Award” Friday, April 15 at 6:30 p.m., at the group’s HackPVD computer coding event at the Providence Public Library, 150 Empire St., in Providence.

“I am honored and proud to receive this recognition,” Watson says. “The tireless work effort is starting to bear fruit. This isn’t a sign that the job is done but that the commitment is ongoing.”

This is the second time in a month that Watson has been awarded for his work to help students, especially students of color. On March 26, the National Society of Black Engineers honored the 1993 URI graduate with the minority engineering program director of the year award. He received the honor during the group’s 42nd annual national conference in Boston.

His award from IntraCity recognizes his contributions to students not only at URI, but throughout the state. He is being honored for his work helping students in the science, math, technology and engineering fields.

IntraCity Geeks teaches coding and entrepreneurship to students and others in urban areas. The group hosts Junior Bootcamp and Junior Hackathon initiatives for public schools students. This month’s event for students and adults is the organization’s first citywide hackathon.

Watson joined the College of Engineering in 2004 to help recruit and guide minority students. Since then, minority enrollment has increased from 3 percent to 13 percent. He works closely with the students, helping with everything from professional internships and laboratory research to social issues and financial concerns.

Many of the students have gone on to great success, finding work at businesses throughout the country, including Eaton Aerospace, Lockheed Martin, Google, Amazon, FM Global, National Grid, Johnson & Johnson, Toray Plastics and the Naval Undersea Warfare Center.

Watson grew up in Cranston, where he still lives, and majored in family studies at URI. He worked as a counselor in a group home, a substitute teacher, and director of enrichment at a Providence charter school before joining URI’s engineering college.

For more information about the engineering college, visit College of Engineering.

Pictured above: Charles A. Watson, assistant director of minority recruitment for the University of Rhode Island’s College of Engineering. Photo courtesy of Charles A. Watson.