Co-Founder, The Second L
Morris Vanegas was born in South Central, Los Angeles to a Salvadoran family who raised a dreamer. His Bachelor’s Degree in Aeronautical Engineering from The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) led him to begin designing space suits at Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX). He soon returned to MIT to complete his dual Masters’ degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Astronautical Engineering. He wears many hats as the Co-Founder of The Second L, the Director of a student-run Makerspace at MIT, a Graduate Resident Advisor, and a PhD Candidate at the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex at Northeastern University.
He is a translational technologist who dabbled in space, digital fabrication, and art before adopting an academic specialty in the biomedical engineering of imaging the brain using visible light that was still only partially born. Currently, he is heading an NIH-funded grant to create portable non-invasive neuro-imaging technologies to accelerate stroke recovery. His long-term goal is to become a research professor to bring the potential and capabilities of digital fabrication technologies to the masses.
Outside of academia, Morris is the Co-Founder of The Second L, an organization that runs ÉPOCA: a multi-day festival that helps lifelong learners reach their personal and professional self-fulfillment through residential-based learning, experience-based insight, cultural agility, and wellness coaching.
Although it may seem like he is meandering, Morris’ drive for impact comes from his massively transformative purpose to continually “share ideas and build communities.”
Morris believes in incubating the leadership potential of the growing Latino population; a simple idea, but not a small one. Like most Latinos, he was taught to serve people, share responsibility, and build community -- a rich foundation for creating inclusive and empowering environments. He believes the inherent Latino traits that come with being a bilingual, multicultural, family-oriented people already fall heavily in line with the 21st century must-have skills of being global, culturally agile, and entrepreneurial. What previous generations suppressed in order to fit into the working American culture is now the advantage the growing Latino US population has for impact -- we just need to learn how to leverage it.
He is a digitally dextrous, open-minded thought leader that works at the crowd level, is excited by bold ideas, and thrives in unpredictability. He is always thirsty for personal growth and fulfillment while staying culturally-connected. His receptivity, curiosity, and patience, coupled with his diversity of thought and experience, have shaped him to be a community leader who doesn’t just want his community to get by, but wants them to get better.