Charles Lee Powell, third cousin to General Robert E. Lee, was a pioneering, self-taught engineer who invented and patented new methods for building concrete structures underground. He is credited with building much of Los Angeles’ early infrastructure. Powell remained committed to a strong work ethic throughout his life, working until his death age 96. As he had only distant relatives, Powell had made provisions in his will for a charitable foundation that would carry forward his legacy of innovation and entrepreneurial spirit.
Since the opening of the first Powell Laboratory in 1986, The Charles Lee Powell Foundation has donated over $24 million in research monies. Additionally, the Foundation continues in the generous, pioneering spirit of Powell in the development of the new UCSD Powell-Focht Bioengineering Hall, completed in 2002.