The Soltis Research and Education Center in Costa Rica was established in January 2009 and officially inaugurated in June 2009. It is a result of the vision and generosity of Mr. Charles W. “Bill” Soltis and his wife, Wanda. Mr. Soltis earned his bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Texas A&M in 1955 and has enjoyed a successful career as a leading innovator in the design and construction of cleanroom and air control facilities for industry and the medical field. When some of his business ventures led him to Costa Rica, he quickly fell in love with the country. Since that first visit over 25 years ago, Mr. Soltis has been a tireless advocate for preservation of the Costa Rican rainforest.
In partnership and with the advice of Mr. Curt Clemenson, Soltis began purchasing rainforest land in Costa Rica for preservation. In a continuation of these efforts, Mr. Soltis and his wife, Wanda, have generously donated a research and education center in San Juan de San Isidro de Peñas Blancas, Costa Rica, to Texas A&M University to provide students with international experiences and to study topics related to sustainability in the tropics and community development. In addition to this state-of-the-art center, Mr. Soltis and Mr. Clemenson have given Texas A&M the long-term right to access and study 250-acre rainforest that is adjacent to the Center.
One interesting fact about The Soltis Center for Research and Education in Costa Rica, is that its foundation was laid years earlier by students and faculty from the College of Architecture. Soltis built the new center for Texas A&M at his own expense, inspired by student designs created in spring 2006 by a multidisciplinary studio at the College of Architecture, which was led by professors Guillermo Vasquez de Velasco, James Smith, Mardelle Shepley, Chris Ellis and Charlie Culp.
The studio was composed of 62 students from architecture, landscape architecture and construction science, who produced a site analysis and 12 different design concepts, the best of which significantly influenced The Center`s final appearance. The following semester, Dr. Velasquez led 2 graduate students and one undergraduate student to fine tune the design before passing it to the Soltis’ architect. Read more
Soltis has also served Texas A&M University with honor and distinction in a variety of other capacities, contributing his time, financial support and expertise to Texas A&M students, including serving as a guest lecturer.