Updated October 2017

Raquel Vélez

email: [email protected]
github: rockbot
twitter: @rockbot


Raquel Vélez is an American technologist and community leader with a global perspective. She studied Mechanical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and worked as a roboticist for 8 years at a variety of institutions. Raquel’s career shifted to web development in 2012, wherein she has since specialized in Node.js (JavaScript). She is currently the Engineering Manager of the Services Team at npm, Inc. She speaks at conferences around the world, contributes to a weekly podcast, and has co-authored a book. Raquel has lived in 4 countries, speaks 5 languages, and currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Technology Expertise

  • Languages: JavaScript, HTML5, CSS3, C, C++, Python, MATLAB
  • Platforms: Node.js, Wordpress
  • Databases: MongoDB, MySQL, Redis, CouchDB

Personal Projects

While I don’t get very much time to code for fun anymore (I’ve got a slew of other things I like to do in my minimal spare time these days), here are some projects I’m known for:

Conference Speaking/Teaching

I have spoken at more than 30 conferences around the world, in both English and Spanish (so far). I have spoken about robotics, web development, and personal development. Please refer to the full list of conference talks, complete with links to the videos (if available).

Some of my personal favorite talks:


  • B.S., Mechanical Engineering, California Institute of Technology, 2003-2007. (Caltech President's Scholar, Winner of the Mabel Beckman Prize)
  • Graduate Studies, Robotics Engineering, Università degli Studi di Genova, 2009-2010. Courses in Control Theory, Computer Vision, Neural Networks, Modeling and Control of Robotic Manipulators, and Real Time Operating Systems. (Erasmus Mundus Scholarship Recipient)

Work Experience

Engineering Manager, Services Team · npm, Inc. · 2014 - Present

As the first employee, I have worn many hats at npm, including:

Member of the Executive Team 2016-Present

  • Sits in on the weekly planning meeting, contributing to company direction, policies, growth/hiring, cross-departmental communication, and more
  • Managed the development of an engineering career ladder (and subsequent career ladders for the whole company)
  • Improved company culture and inclusion through discussions, hiring, policy changes, and process improvements

Engineering Manager of the Services Team 2016-Present

  • Team oversees the website, the registry, the enterprise product, and operations
  • Currently managing 8 individual contributors (25% local/85% remote), handling weekly 1:1s, quarterly reviews, mentoring, career growth, and high-level project management
  • Has weekly 1:1s with CEO, CTO, heads of other teams (sales/marketing, support) to ensure cross-team communication
  • Managed hiring and on-boarding of 4 new engineers to the team in Q2/Q3 2017

Engineering Manager of the Web Team 2016

  • Managed team in building out new features in the website
  • Managed 3 individual contributors, handling weekly 1:1s, quarterly reviews, mentoring, career growth, and high-level project management

Technical Lead of the Web Team 2016

  • Oversaw technical discussions while building out new features in the website

Senior Software Engineer, Web Team 2014-2016

  • Created the current-standing website for the company, https://npmjs.com, in Node.js using the hapi framework
  • Helped build the team from one engineer to four engineers and a designer over two years

Software Developer, Mobile R&D · Sauce Labs · 2013

  • Pushed the envelope in the mobile testing space
  • Contributed to the Appium open source project

Front-End Engineer · Storify · 2013

  • Integrated design and layout changes in HTML5 and CSS as created by Design and Project Teams
  • Developed, tested, and deployed Storify Business featureset in Node.js with Express and MongoDB backend, incorporating APIs from Twitter, Typekit, Stripe, and others for Storify features
  • Developed and resolved bug stories/feature fixes; refactored and pushed code to staging or production as needed; assisted in weekly DevOps rotation
  • Maintained and developed the Storify Chrome Extension and story templates
  • Quickly learned existing codebase, pushed code to production environment in first week

Web Developer · Skookum Digital Works · 2012 - 2013

Chief Technology Officer · Escúchame, Inc. · 2010 - 2012

  • Oversaw the development, performance, and upkeep of the Escúchame Community at http://escuchame.org
  • Managed a team of in-house and overseas software developers in building the site and adding features as necessary
  • Advocated the organization, promotion, and showcasing of Latina experts, through blog posts, speaking engagements, and networking

Robotics Intern · Applied Minds, Inc. · 2010

  • Refined a reactive planning algorithm for a robotic vehicle using Python
  • Developed and applied planning algorithms for simulated robotic vehicles in a video game environment using C++ and the Panda3D graphics engine
  • Transformed conceptual algorithms from research papers into an applied planning algorithm using OpenCV, Python, and C++

Founder & CEO · Lightbulb Robotics · 2009

  • Consulted for a variety of non- and for-profit organizations to create customized robotics programs appropriate for the institution’s funding, support staff, and student base
  • Motivated audiences through speaking engagements covering such topics as robotics, education, diversity, and leadership

Leader/Co-founder · Robotics Outreach at MIT Lincoln Laboratory (ROLL) · 2008 - 2009

  • Collaborated with other staff to establish the Lab’s first robotics outreach program, designed to stimulate youth interest in science and technology, while working as a full-time system analyst
  • Developed and coordinated an intense weekend workshop robotics series for early high school students, complete with introduction, mentoring with Lincoln Laboratory engineers, and final competition
  • Assisted in the creation of other programs, geared to students ranging from 7 to 17 years of age

System Analyst · MIT Lincoln Laboratory · 2007 - 2009

  • Created models and simulations of advanced technological systems aimed at solving problems of national security; was granted a Secret level security clearance by the Department of Defense
  • Developed an organized sequence of programs to analyze raw data collected in the field for sponsors including the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security (MATLAB)

Project Manager · Caltech RoboRescue Team · 2006 - 2007

  • Initiated and led a new robotics team comprised of fifteen undergraduate students to compete against 30 other teams at the 2007 RoboCup Rescue International Open
  • Raised $30,000 for the team, recruited new members, held weekly meetings with sub-team leaders, and organized design and implementation reviews

Intern in the Chair of Mechanics and Mechatronics · University of Duisburg-Essen · 2006

  • Programmed KUKA industrial robots to assist in biomechanical research related to determining stresses in the human arm
  • Developed algorithms for taking measurements using both C++ and the KUKA Control Panel and for analyzing the data using MATLAB’s optimization toolbox

Summer Underground Research Fellow · NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Machine Vision Group · 2004

  • Simulated and implemented a person-follower robotic behavior, which enabled the robot to continuously follow and maintain view of its target (MATLAB, C)
  • Wrote a proposal, several progress reports, and presented a final technical paper as part of the fellowship


  • World Economic Forum Global Shapers Charlotte Hub, Vice Chair (2011 – 2013)
  • Latin American Coalition, Board Member (2011 – 2012)
  • Hackerspace Charlotte, Board Member and Press Liaison (2011 – 2012)

Honors and Awards

  • Special Recognition for Community Outreach by the Laboratory Director, MIT Lincoln Laboratory (2009)
  • Minority Student Education Outstanding Service Award, California Institute of Technology (2007)
  • Caltech President’s Scholar, California Institute of Technology (2003 – 2007)
  • Research In Science and Engineering Award Winner, German Academic Exchange Service (2006)