Sandia LabNews

Former Sandian added to Entrepreneurial Wall of Fame

Leaving his mark on the world

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HELPING NM THRIVE — Charles Rath, a former employee of the Labs and a 2023 Sandia Entrepreneurial Wall of Fame inductee is president and CEO of Resilient Solutions 21, a thriving data analytics company in Albuquerque. (Photo courtesy of Resilient Solutions 21)

Charles Rath had no connection to the state of New Mexico before moving here in 2011. But today, his actions, both personal and professional, are rooted in making it a better place.

“A big part of what drives me on a daily basis is my two sons, ages six and seven,” Rath said.

As president and CEO of Resilient Solutions 21, a leader in data science and artificial intelligence, Rath is the latest to be honored with a place on Sandia’s Entrepreneurial Wall of Fame.

“It’s honoring innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Mary Monson, senior manager of Technology Partnerships and Business Development.

Located in Building 800, where Sandia’s top leaders work, the Wall of Fame highlights former Sandians who have led the way in taking Sandia’s technology into the world.

Rath’s picture and story now sit among photos of people like:

Dan Neal, who was instrumental in advancing LASIK surgery using wavefront sensing metrology technologies crafted at Sandia; Todd Christenson, who transformed Sandia research into a company specializing in the world’s smallest electromechanical switches; and Hong Hou, an electrical engineer pivotal in turning EMCORE Corp. into a leading manufacturer of high-efficiency solar cells.

“To think that my portrait is on the walls of arguably one of the most prestigious science and engineering organizations in the world is one of the greatest honors of my life,” Rath said. “It makes me very proud to be associated with an organization that is doing so much good for our country and the world.”

Charles Rath’s story

Rath grew up in southern Illinois. He moved around frequently before eventually finding a home in Washington, D.C., in 2001. One month later, the tragic events of Sept. 11 unfolded.

“I lost a couple of neighbors from my apartment complex,” Rath said. “One was a flight attendant; the other worked in the Pentagon. It shaped the next 15 years of my career.”

Rath went on to work for the Department of Homeland Security as a consultant, then after several years was hired on full time.

In December 2011, Rath decided to bring his expertise in national security to Sandia. He was far from the conventional hire.

“I had a background in analytics but didn’t have a Ph.D. in science or engineering. Sandia thought outside the box to bring a person like me into the organization,” Rath said.

Rath soon became the lead of the Resilient Cities Program, which helps cities better solve problems through data analytics and artificial intelligence.

“One morning while watching the news, I heard a representative from the Rockefeller Foundation talking about a billion-dollar initiative to help cities around the world become more resilient and address the stresses of the 21st century. I was like, ‘Wow, how cool is that; I wonder if they have access to world-class scientists and engineers to help advise them? Wouldn’t it be cool if Sandia was a technical adviser?’ So, I cold-called Rockefeller and asked if they had heard of Sandia National Labs,” he said. “They said, ‘Where?’ It was clear they had no idea what we were. I told them we have world-class experts in water systems, energy grids, supply chains and counterterrorism. It wasn’t long before we partnered. Sandia leadership supported me in the endeavor, and we became part of this global initiative.”

Over the next three years, Rath traveled the world helping cities, states and countries. In New Orleans, for example, the program helped the city develop a more resilient energy grid.

In 2015, Rath decided to take advantage of the opportunity provided by Sandia’s Entrepreneurial Separation Program to start his own business in downtown Albuquerque, named Resilient Solutions 21 Inc. The company’s mission is harnessing the power of data to help people make better, faster and smarter decisions.

Since its founding, RS21 has grown to 80 employees from diverse professional backgrounds. The team provides advanced analytics supporting efforts in health care, defense, safety, urban planning, energy, cybersecurity, land use, climate, disaster preparedness, disaster recovery, space and social equity.

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WALL OF FAME — Theodore Rath views a display of about his father Charles, who is the latest inductee into the Entrepreneurial Wall of Fame. In the background, Charles, left, speaks with Mary Manson, senior manager of Technology Partnerships and Business Development. (Photo by Craig Fritz)

Entrepreneurial Separation to Transfer Technology Program

Each honoree on the Entrepreneurial Wall of Fame participated in Sandia’s Entrepreneurial Separation to Transfer Technology Program.

“This is why it is important to have the Wall of Fame,” Mary said. “The recognition celebrates commercialization of Sandia technology and highlights the opportunity available to the Labs’ workforce.”

Under the program, anyone at Sandia can try their hand at being an entrepreneur. If it doesn’t work out within two years, they are guaranteed a job to return to at Sandia.

“It’s a great source of innovation and helps Sandia attract more brilliant people,” Rath said. “Part of Sandia’s mission is to create and help commercialize new technology. I also hope that my story makes others aware this path exists and inspires them to take a similar one.”

While that path does mean the departure of some brilliant minds, the enduring impact is that of the work that is cultivated at Sandia and continues the Labs’ remarkable 75-year legacy of innovation.

Helping the world

“These Sandians have made very impactful contributions that not only advance our mission but help the world,” Mary said.

Rath, who refers to Sandia as a national treasure, is humbled by the distinction. “It makes me very proud to be associated with an organization that is doing so much good. We’ve helped create hundreds of jobs in the community where Sandians and their families live and thrive. I want to be part of a changing narrative about Albuquerque and our economy. I want to prove that great tech companies can be born and thrive in our city.”

Rath, who moved around a lot while he was younger, now considers New Mexico his home.

“I care deeply about the state of New Mexico and the city of Albuquerque. My wife’s family has been here for hundreds of years.” And that influences some of his company’s projects.

“Part of what we do is work on issues related to early childhood education, crime, cancer, the environment, water issues,” Rath said. “We are able to take some of the know-how from Sandia and help our own state, which we are really proud of.”

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