San Antonio Prefreshman Engineering Program closes 34th summer

Chris Nielsen

Chris Nielsen

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(July 30, 2012) -- More than 1,300 middle and high school students will participate in the closing ceremony for the 34th San Antonio Prefreshman Engineering Program (SA-PREP). Chris Nielsen, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas Inc. (TMMTX) in San Antonio will provide the keynote address at 1 p.m., Tuesday, July 31 in the Convocation Center at the UTSA Main Campus.

Founded in 1979 at The University of Texas at San Antonio by mathematics professor Manuel Berriozabal, the seven-week summer program encourages students, especially minorities and females, to pursue careers in the STEM fields -- science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Ninety-eight percent of the students who complete one summer of SA-PREP go on to enroll in college. Three-fourths of last year's participants were minorities.

"I am honored to speak at this summer's PREP closing assembly," said Nielsen. "PREP challenges the minds of our young people to become the engineers of tomorrow."

As president of TMMTX, Nielsen oversees a plant that assembles Tundra and Tacoma pick-up trucks and employs more than 2,800 team members. Before his current role, Nielsen served as vice president of purchasing, vehicle parts and materials for Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America in Erlanger, Ky. His responsibilities included approving vehicle parts and materials procurement as well as supplier production preparation. The plant supports Toyota's growing research and development, engineering and manufacturing operations in North America.

In 2003, as chief production manager, Nielsen led the overall manufacturing preparation for the Tundra and Sequoia vehicles and the establishment of TMMTX. He joined Toyota in 1987 as a buyer at the Georgetown, Ky., plant and progressed through a series of positions in purchasing. He was the first American to participate in the management expatriation program, a yearlong management development assignment with Toyota Motor Corp. in Japan.

Nielsen earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Industrial Engineering from Kettering University in Flint, Mich. A native of Warren, Mich., Nielsen serves on the board of trustees for Kettering University and chair of the Southwest Minority Supplier Development Council advisory board.