engineers

10 most powerful female engineers of today

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we’d like to highlight ten of the most powerful female engineers of the modern world.

Microsoft’s Peggy Johnson

Peggy Johnson currently serves as Microsoft’s Executive Vice President of Business Development. Before joining Microsoft, she held the position of Executive Vice President and President of Global Market Development at Qualcomm. Johnson holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from San Diego State University

 

Google’s Diane Greene

Diane Greene is leading a new team in Google that combines all of the company’s cloud businesses. Google’s goal is make its cloud business bigger than its ad business by 2020. Greene holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Vermont.

 

Apple’s Tara Bunch

Tara Bunch is vice president of AppleCare, Apple’s technical-service and support organization. Bunch joined Apple in 2012 after a 20-year career at Hewlett-Packard, where she was a senior vice president of global customer service and support operations. Bunch graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering.

 

Bechtel’s Barbara Rusinko

Barbara Rusinko is president of Bechtel Nuclear, Security & Environmental, Inc. (NS&E).  Barbara is a registered professional engineer with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of South Carolina, and a master’s degree in engineering from the University of Alabama – Huntsville. She serves on the corporate partnership council of the Society of Women Engineers.

Pilot’s Jessica McKellar

Jessica McKellar is founder and CTO at Pilot, a bookkeeping service. Prior to founding Pilot, Jessica was director of engineering at Dropbox and a major figure in the world of Python, a popular web-development programming language. McKellar attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and studied computer science and chemistry.

Ford’s Reates Curry

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Reates Curry has been at Ford Motor Company since 1995 working with the Driving Simulator Team. Her expertise is in the area of human-machine/computer interaction with an emphasis on developing metrics for safe and efficient in-vehicle technology design and testing of human-machine interfaces (HMIs). Curry has a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Missouri-Columbia, a Master’s in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University, and a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Rutgers University where she did her research in the area of Machine Vision.

 

Amazon’s Sharon Chiarella

Sharon Chiarella is the Vice President of Community Shopping at Amazon where she leads the team responsible for iconic Amazon experiences including Customer Reviews and Wish Lists. Prior to joining Amazon in 2007, Ms. Chiarella held leadership positions at Microsoft, Yahoo!, Kodak, and Presto Services.  She earned her bachelor’s degree in computer science from Manhattan College and her MBA from Harvard Business School.

Google’s Anna Patterson

Anna_Patterson

Anna Patterson, PhD has been described as one of the most important women in technology. She is currently Founder and Managing Partner at Gradient Ventures and Vice President of Engineering at Google. Patterson received her B.S. in Computer Science and another in Electrical Engineering from Washington University and her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign and was a Research Scientist at Stanford University in Artificial Intelligence working with John McCarthy on Phenomenal Data Mining and Carolyn Talcott on theorem provers.

VMware’s Yanbing Li

Yanbing Li is senior vice president and general manager of VMware’s Storage and Availability business unit. The group’s products are used by over 7,000 companies, VMware says, and the team has 1000 people in 5 countries. Li has a PhD in electrical engineering and computer engineering.

Make in LA’s Noramay Cadena

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Noramay Cadena is a cofounder of Make in LA, a startup accelerator focused on hardware projects. Prior to that, spent over 12 years working across multiple business units at The Boeing Company. She led process improvement strategies across large development programs to help the company break the cost curve associated with bringing large programs to market. Noramay holds an MBA, a Master’s in Engineering Systems and a Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering – all from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

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Tips for up and coming engineers

Let me start by saying that being an engineer is an incredibly rewarding yet demanding career choice.

As ‘corny’ as it sounds, you will make a real difference in people’s lives, and as cliché as this sounds, ‘engineers really do make ‘it’ happen’.

Unfortunately when you’re first starting out, it can be an incredibly daunting and frustrating time for a young engineer, so here are five tips for my ‘brethren’ beginning their engineering journey.

  1. For A Short Period of Time It’s Going To Hurt

Graduating with a degree in engineering is an accomplishment in and of itself. Unfortunately the reality is that your degree is essentially a piece of paper that verifies you know how to use a calculator and chew gum at the same time.

Of course I am being facetious, but the end of your degree is actually the first step on a very long road ahead. You need to accept that for the first three to five years you will be confused and shrouded in self-doubt, constantly second guessing yourself as you struggle to make sense of the monumental amount of information you will be asked to absorb and comprehend.

Fight through that self-doubt. You’re going to be fine.

Grit your teeth, keep your eyes and ears open, commit to your growth, focus on your development and absorb as much as you can as quickly as you can, and before you know it you will have set the foundations of your career.

  1. Site Experience, Site Experience, Site Experience

In case it wasn’t emphasised enough, you’ve got to get site experience. It is unbelievable how important working in the field can be. Get on site and get dirty. For the first six months to a year, work as a labourer if you must, it doesn’t matter, just get out there. Site work will give you incredible insight that an office environment simply can’t, plus it will enable you to think beyond the numbers and formulas and expose you to factors and parameters you won’t learn from a text book.

  1. A Strong Work Ethic Is Mandatory

As an engineer, you will encounter countless variations of never ending problems from demanding clients that set ‘yesterday’ deadlines in an industry where competition grows exponentially, thanks to the wonders of ever changing technology.

There is simply too much information to process, and of course there never is enough time, so believe me when I tell you that 9-5 won’t cut it. Success requires early starts and late finishes, so forget about looking at your watch and repeat this mantra over and over:

  1. Modern Tech is A Double Edge Sword So Measure Twice Cut Once

One of the great things about modern engineering is the vast number of advanced tools we have at our disposal. Computers and modern technology have allowed us to tackle complex problems, communicate big ideas and share results faster and more efficiently than ever before.

In fact this piece was typed on a laptop connected to the internet via my Australian mobile phone connected to the Chinese network whilst sitting in a bullet train travelling at 305km/hr heading to Shenzhen to meet with Chinese engineering colleagues to discuss new concrete and steel technology.

Unfortunately, surrounded by all the modern tools, an engineer can become lazy and too trusting of the solution on the screen. Whether it’s a complex FEM program or a simple spreadsheet, you must develop a full and comprehensive understanding of the input ‘language’ to properly interpret the output results.

Do not rush to the keyboard before first developing your understanding of engineering philosophy and a ‘feel’ for the numbers.

My advice is simple, respect technology, don’t be afraid to use it, but apply a healthy dose of scepticism when reviewing the output file, and if it doesn’t ‘feel’ right, then check it with a hand calculation. Then check it again.

  1. Money Money Money Money Money

Do not let money be the main factor which determines the course of your career, because when you’re starting out, you will not be impressed by your pay cheque.

Don’t worry about money during the early stages.

First choose the branch/sector of your engineering discipline which most interests you, then focus on developing your skills and technical abilities.

It’s no secret or special advice, love your job and it won’t feel like work, and before you know it your knowledge base and ‘abilities’ will start expanding exponentially and you will become more ‘valuable’ to an organisation.

That’s when you start seeing the bigger numbers and that’s when other options start to appear.

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