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STEMinist Profile: Ruth Ford, Electronics Technician

Ruth Ford

Electronics Technician

U.S. Coast Guard



What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
I love to be challenged and I love to explore and discover the world around me. I have had very strong role models in my life and have always been pushed to better myself. I pretty much followed in my father’s footsteps and chose to go into the military and after trying a few different carrier paths, I found my true love of troubleshooting.

Before joining the Coast Guard I worked as a bank teller. One day our coin counter stopped working, we were all very distraught because counting coins was not anyone’s favorite pastime. So I decided I would try to “fix” it; much to my boss’s dismay I completely disassembled the mechanism to try and find the root cause. It was a disaster! So after the technician was called in to fix it, I found myself asking him a million questions and spent 8 hours learning about a single system. I learned a lot that day and found my true calling.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
I was entrusted to work on a multibillion dollar system for the Coast Guard. It was a inter-agency project and I trailblazed the entire field of intelligence technology for the Coast Guard. I can be seen in the Oct 2014 edition of the Journal of Electronic Defense (JED) magazine for the Association of Old Crows and was awarded the Military Service Award. I was also nominated for the 7th Annual AFCEA Leadership Award. Currently I am an instructor for the largest Radar system in the Coast Guard.

“AFCEA is an international organization that serves its members by providing a forum for the ethical exchange of information. AFCEA is dedicated to increasing knowledge through the exploration of issues relevant to its members in information technology, communications, and electronics for the defense, homeland security and intelligence communities.”

Role models and heroes:
My Father
My Husband
Billy Jean King
Ayn Rand

Why do you loving working in STEM?
It is a challenge and rewarding. I love to find out what the root of a problem is and electronics are a great platform to do just that. I also want my daughter to find a passion for technology and be able to feel confident in her abilities and strengths in this field.

Advice for future STEMinists?
“If a human made it then I can figure it out” – Richard Cordova (My father)

Favorite website or app:
Luminosity
http://www.crows.org

Profiles

STEMinist Profile: Miranda Nash, Co-founder / CEO – qeople.com

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Miranda Nash

Co-founder / CEO

qeople.com (Pre-launch tech startup)



What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
The foundation for my interest in STEM was laid early, in about third grade. My dad would spend evenings giving me word problems that required increasingly difficult algebra. That was fun! I competed on the high school math team and have always loved strategy board games but had never been into video games or anything more directly related to technology. In high school I had an amazing physics teacher who brought the subject to life, and I thought I would major in Physics at Stanford.

As a requirement, I took my first computer science class and loved the combination of theory and practice (not to mention I got better grades in CS than physics). Then, I got accepted to be a “CS106 Section Leader” – an undergraduate teaching younger undergrads how to program in C. From that point, I was hooked. The fact that computer science could actually be lucrative never entered my thinking until much later.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
Cool has never been a label I adopted easily for myself… The most *gratifying* projects cover a wide range, depending on the career phase. Early on, I was able to get the database development organization at Oracle to change the way we handled versioning and source control to be more useful and efficient. Later, I found a little-known data integration company that cleverly used heterogeneous databases for data transformations, which we acquired and I led into a new business unit at Oracle.

Most recently, I am starting an online curated talent marketplace. Our mission is to use video, data, assessment, and automation to bring qualified non-traditional professionals into the workplace, while helping companies sidestep the escalating talent wars. A disproportionate number of highly qualified women choose not to participate in paid work, and by embracing non-traditional work models, we can change that.

Role models and heroes:
Famous role models include Sheryl Sandberg, Safra Catz, Rachel Maddow, and Mika Brzezinski (all feminists, some STEMinists). Other role models include male and female senior managers I have worked with closely at Oracle, Oxygen Equity, and Jobscience (Thomas Kurian, Barbara Mowry, Chuck Rozwat, Rich Kelley, Vicki Appel). Finally, my two sisters who are both STEMinists and my mom who raised three STEMinists are personal heroes.

Why do you loving working in STEM?
I am a pretty competitive person, and STEM is the playing field that is changing the world and ultimately making it a better place. First, I want to be on the right playing field. Second, I want to win.

Advice for future STEMinists?
Don’t get discouraged from a STEM path because the labels don’t fit. For example, I have always felt excluded by the labels used for great computer science people: “rockstar programmer” and “hacker”. Or, some of you may feel uncomfortable with “feminist” or “STEMinist”. It doesn’t matter. Do something you can do well with passion for a sustained time, and the labels will go away. You will construct your own meaningful career.

Favorite website or app:
Most time spent: LinkedIn
Favorite for personal organization: Trello
Favorite for business: Envato Marketplace
Favorite innovative apps/businesses led by women: OneKingsLane.com, UrbanSitter.com

Twitter: @mirandanash

Site: linkedin.com/in/mirandanash

Profiles

STEMinist Profile: Garima Gupta, Graduate Student / Regional Executive Officer, Robogals North America

Garima Gupta

Graduate Student / Regional Executive Officer, Robogals North America

Robogals



What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
I have always enjoyed math and science and it has been my dream since I was nine to become an astronaut and the first person on Mars. So my interests and dreams naturally led to engineering. My parents are both engineers and fantastic role models, so their excitement for the field and their support of my goals has helped a lot as well.

After being immersed in STEM for so long, I can’t really imagine doing anything else!

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
The coolest project I’ve ever worked on was during my undergrad. As part of the Kirschvink Lab at Caltech, I helped design, construct, and test a stage that would simulate the systematic movement of a magnetometer placed on a Martian rover’s instrument arm. The stage helped us find evidence of lightning strikes in rocks on Earth and a similar technology could help us do the same thing on Mars. This data could help us confirm the past existence of water on the planet and help us determine which rocks to avoid for sample return.

It was amazing to get to work on a project that combined mechanical, electrical, computer, and systems engineering as well as the geological and planetary sciences. I loved it!

I’m excited for some upcoming projects too though. I’ll be a propulsion intern at SpaceX this summer; can’t wait to see what I get to work on!

Role models and heroes:
My Parents: patient, supportive, and persevering.
Eileen Collins: incredible woman/pilot/astronaut and very humble too!
Amelia Earhart & Dara Torres: perfect examples of letting nothing stop you from achieving your goals.
Peter Diamandis: has an infectious sense of motivation and passion for his work; I hope I can communicate my excitement that well!

Why do you loving working in STEM?
I really enjoy making things with my own hands (whether it be a program on a computer or a part on the lathe) and seeing those become components in larger projects. I love that these projects always have some connection to a “bigger picture.” Working in STEM allows me to solve real-world problems and at the same time, further my dream of becoming an astronaut.

Advice for future STEMinists?
Find other people that are passionate about the same things that you are and surround yourself with them. They will not only inspire you on a daily basis and but you will also help each other accomplish exactly what you set out to accomplish (or maybe even more)!

Favorite website or app:
I really like this app “Bonza” – it’s a game that combines crossword and jigsaw puzzles. So fun! 🙂

Twitter: @AstroGarima

Profiles

STEMinist Profile: Kirsi Kuutti, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Undergraduate

Kirsi Kuutti

Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Undergraduate

University of Minnesota Duluth

 

 



What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
Building robots on my high school’s FIRST Robotics team, the Daredevils, got me hooked on STEM careers! We created robots to compete in various games like soccer, basketball, and ultimate Frisbee. The Daredevils showed me that engineering is not just a profession, it is a lifestyle. Since teams only have six weeks to fabricate a competitive machine we learned to work hard and smart. We used engineering principles coined by the team like “Beautility”− a reliable machine must have both “Beauty” and “Utility”. My favorite task on the team was creating circuits from sensors to motors and performing general robot wiring.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
Soldering a circuit board for NASA’s deep space habitat was the coolest project I have worked on. I interned for NASA’s Glenn Reserach Center one summer and assisted in the fabrication of a solar array regulator which takes energy from the sun and batteries to power a habitat for astronauts. The circuit I made ensures the solar regulator receives power even during emergencies. It’s exciting to think that one day something I made may be sent to space.

Role models and heroes:
My robotics coach Mr. Velner and astronaut Karen Nyberg are my top role models. My robotics coach demonstrated the importance of helping others throughout my whole robotics experience. He illustrated through his work, teaching biology and mentoring, that helping those beyond my generation is most important for humanity. Karen Nyberg is an amazing leader in STEM — being a part of missions on the International Space Station, a scientist, and a mother.

Why do you loving working in STEM?
STEM careers combine creativity and problem solving which I find exciting! Additionally, careers in STEM often lead to working in teams and collaborating with a whole lot of different people and different professions. You never fall short of challenges!

Advice for future STEMinists?
My first year of college I failed Calculus II, one of the first engineering major requirements, and withdrew from my university’s engineering program. The following semester I gave it another shot. After getting a study buddy, practicing hundreds of problems, and asking the professor questions during office hours I passed with a B+! My advice for future STEMinists is to not give up and keep pursuing your passion despite doubts. Even if you have to retake a class many times, try a new strategy and find those who can help you.

Favorite website or app:
Favorite app: French Girls, draw other people from the selfies they take and take your own selfies so other people can draw you.

Favorite website: http://www.ncwit.org/, resources and community for women in computer science.

Twitter: @KirsiCootie

Site: http://kirsikuutti.blogspot.com/

Profiles

STEMinist Profile: Katie Mehnert, CEO and Founder, Pink Petro

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Katie Mehnert

CEO and Founder

Pink Petro



What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
The energy business is a fascinating and rewarding place to make a difference. We create and make things that power our world and underpin our economy and livelihoods. After years in energy technology and business transformation in Upstream and Downstream, I found my passion in health, safety, and operational risk management. Today I enjoy continuing that path as a consultant to industry while developing a diverse pipeline of female talent to drive closure of the gender gap in our sector.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
The best project I tackled was road safety while at Shell. My team launched an intervention program in 16 countries across the globe and we drove down road fatalities. What made it cool? Country leadership teams, suppliers, and employees all worked together to make a difference in our pursuit to Goal Zero – an initiative that touched every part of our business, with over 100k people impacted. Ultimately Shell went on to become a leader in road safety, carving out a centre of expertise and becoming the role model in industry.

Role models and heroes:
There are plenty to count. First and foremost, my parents are my heroes. My dad and mom both always taught me three important things: owning my path, confidence, and integrity. I had many great teachers who gave me the space to learn and fail. Peggy, an engineer who has recently hit the pinnacle of her career as a CEO in a large IOC, took a risk on me as a non-engineer and changed my mindset and my career trajectory.

We all need role models and heroes and I seek to become one for other women so they know they don’t have to go at it alone.

Why do you loving working in STEM?
STEM fuels our world. It underpins our lives. It’s the engine that solves our biggest problems. It’s bigger than all of us and needs women.

Advice for future STEMinists?
Own it and make it happen. Don’t let anyone or anything stand in your way.

Favorite website or app:
I’m going to have to say, Pink Petro. In 5 weeks, we are in 11 countries with members from various technical and non technical disciplines. I’m honored my industry supported and encouraged me to pursue developing Pink Petro, a community for women in energy and their advocates. It uses JIVE social business technology to power professional development communities, Q/A forums, blogs, discussions, mentor and coach matching, ideation, and other neat features. It’s spam and ad free and supported through annual membership dues. The site includes students, educators, professionals, executives, retirees and service providers in the energy sector.

Twitter: @katiemehnert

Site: www.katiemehnert.com

Profiles

STEMinist Profile: Charlotte Robin, PhD student

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Charlotte Robin

PhD student

University of Liverpool



What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
I am naturally a very practical person, and have always enjoyed making things – from finger painting to flat-pack furniture! When I was younger, I had no intentions of pursuing a career in STEM, it just kind of happened!

I enjoyed doing research during my degree, but had no idea that it could be a career. When I was offered a job as a research assistant for a veterinary charity I was thrilled, and that was when I realised I wanted to be an epidemiologist. Since then I have worked on numerous research projects, done another Master’s degree and have just started my PhD in Public Health. So really, I am just at the beginning of my career!

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
I like to think that all the research projects I have worked on, or have helped with have contributed to improving the health and welfare of the animal or human population in some way. However, I am most proud of my PhD project. I am part of a new Health Protection Research Unit, focusing on emerging zoonotic infections. As a PhD student, it’s great to be part of such a talented and supportive group and to be doing research in such an exciting area. The Institute of Infection and Global Health is also an Athena SWAN bronze award holder, so it’s the perfect environment for a young, female academic such as myself to be working in.

Role models and heroes:
My mum. She worked incredibly hard to raise and support three children, and has taught me that you can achieve whatever you want with hard work and determination.

Why do you loving working in STEM?
The best thing about research is being the first person to discover something new – it’s very exciting!

Advice for future STEMinists?
Be brave and never give up!

I very nearly didn’t take the first job I was offered as I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy it – sometimes you just need to take a leap of faith and go for it. What’s the worst that can happen? You don’t enjoy it so you do something else!

And determination is essential. It took me nearly 4 years to secure PhD funding, sometimes things take longer than you expect (or hope) but if you are tenacious you will get there in the end!

Favorite website or app: Twitter

Twitter: @CharlotteRobin

Profiles

STEMinist Profile: Jesi Hoolihan, Student, Astrophysics

Jesi Hoolihan

Student

St Thomas University



What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
I always had an interest in math and science during my high school career and after a six year career in retail management, found myself inspired while watching Particle Fever. I haven’t looked back since!

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
I founded my own nonprofit organization when I was 17. Founding a company on my own really showed me that I will accomplish anything I set my mind to.

Role models and heroes:
Elon Musk. I could care less if my hero is male or female, I love seeing people bettering our species as opposed to their pocket books.

Why do you loving working in STEM?
Well, I’m not officially there yet, but I am excited to be studying astrophysics.

Advice for future STEMinists?
Anything is possible. Don’t fall into the expectations of others.

Favorite website or app:
www.spacex.com

Profiles

STEMinist Profile: Taryn Musgrave, Chief Operations Officer for Robogals Global

Taryn Musgrave

Chief Operations Office & Full Time Student

Robogals Global


What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
I just LOVE technology and maths! I always wanted to do something a little bit different and I love being able to solve problems. When I was younger I didn’t really know what I wanted to do… I wanted to work with computers but I didn’t have much thought beyond that. I ended up in an Engineering role and have since then come full circle back to Computer Science. I have always been an advocate of women in STEM roles and I am involved in promoting women in STEM roles as part of my role. I think when a maths problem, an engineering marvel, a physics discovery or a particularly tricky code solution gets you excited you have no choice! I have found my passion.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
There have been plenty of cool projects along the way. Each project is different: different challenges and different people. One of the coolest projects was when I was living in Northern Australia. A train had derailed and destroyed a section of track and a point machine. I was on a team of two and we spent the next 12 hours rebuilding this machine from scratch. It involved physical labour, resourceful thinking, problem solving and teamwork to be able to get this machine up and running again. This project gave me a sense of achievement when the machine first operated.

Generally speaking my favourite projects are the ones that have an unexpected outcome and help people. I am a big advocate for volunteering and helping people as much as possible. Sharing knowledge and skills with others develops not only them but myself as well.

Role models and heroes:

  • Amy Poehler – just plain inspirational
  • Helen Pederson – for helping me find the confidence to pursue my dreams. Her Open the Door project provides education and aims to address the issues women face in the engineering industry when returning to the workforce after having children.
  • Karen San Miguel – a fantastic woman who promotes tech to young people through CoderDojo in WA. Also an all-round awesome person.
  • Marita Cheng – founder of Robogals. I would not have the wonderful opportunity I have now if Marita didn’t get the ball rolling.
  • My Husband – he is so patient, kind and supportive. He is such a positive male role model. I am so lucky to have him in my life.

Why do you loving working in STEM?
Every day is different! I love to help people and solve problems. In my current role I get to visit schools and encourage girls to think about STEM as a potential career path. There is nothing more exciting than a group of young girls who never knew that their love of maths and science could be part of their future career. The girls that I meet surprise me every time. Their ingenuity and ‘out of the box’ thinking just blows me away. I meet so many older women who have lost that along the way and I want to encourage everyone to become themselves again. Through my different jobs in STEM I have been knee deep in snow fixing track circuits on the railway in England, responding to faults in Northern Australia in temperatures that melted my work boots, and currently sharing the awesome places STEM careers can take you with girls around the world.

Advice for future STEMinists?
Jump! If you find something you love doing, then do it! Happy people are successful people. Work takes up a substantial part of your life so it is important to love what you are doing. If you make a mistake, you learn. If you chose the wrong path, you can change it. Nothing is set in stone.

Favorite website or app:

  • Twitter – I love to tweet! Twitter connects me with the world and lets me discover so many new people 🙂
  • Slack – Newly discovered. It allows me to keep up with my team on a regular informal basis.

Twitter: @tarynmusgrave

Profiles

STEMinist Profile: Krista Hasling, Technical Program Manager

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Krista Hasling

Technical Program Manager

Brocade



What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
Simply the desire to know more and be smart! Growing up, my parents valued education and pushed me into challenging math classes. I don’t think I realized I liked STEM and was pursuing it as a career until my sophomore year in college studying Electrical Engineering. Then I just refused to quit!

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
The next one! 🙂

Role models and heroes:
My grandparents. They are amazing people that are well traveled and well loved. I would love to be like them at their age – funding 10 (and counting) undergraduate educations, visiting friends all over the world, and building a healthy and happy home. Their retirement life is just an extension of how successful they were in their careers and seeing the rewarding outcome of hard work is a real inspiration for me.

Why do you loving working in STEM?
I love being able to intelligently add to any conversation and talk to anyone about anything. STEM makes you well-rounded! I don’t think other degrees challenge your mind the same way and it enables so many opportunities with people, technology, and education.

Advice for future STEMinists?
Talk about your goals with others. Taking that first step of picking up the phone to call someone for the first time is the hardest. From there you can only learn more and improve your chances of success. And the more others know about your goals, the more they can help you achieve them!

Favorite website or app:
Professionally: Linkedin because it has everything from interesting articles, great networking, and industry groups to local events, and job searching.
Personally: Ticket to Ride iPad game because I love strategy board games and being able to play anytime anywhere is awesome.

Twitter: @KristaINK

Profiles

STEMinist Profile: Raquel H. Ribeiro, Postdoctoral researcher in theoretical cosmology

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Raquel H. Ribeiro

Postdoctoral researcher in theoretical cosmology. University of Cambridge, MAS, PhD.

Case Western Reserve University, USA



What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
Ever since I can remember I have been been asking questions. Why, why, and why… I would spend hours and hours looking at the night sky when I was a kid, bewildered by that huge amount of space out there. That fascination with the universe soon came across Carl Sagan’s TV series “Cosmos”. My career path was sealed.

From then on, I wanted to study as much maths and physics as I could. I wanted to know how it all worked: how stars were born, why were they irradiating, why were they twinkling in the sky. But most of all how did it all come from. Somehow the ability of asking questions was always there with me, and it fueled my desire to understand more. It wouldn’t matter much which subject we were talking about: biology or chemistry, maths, or any other. But it was with physics mostly that I felt at home.

It never mattered to me if people were not expecting me to pursue a career in physics. All I wanted was to understand. And now that I’m a real cosmologist focusing on the early universe, all I can say is that I still like to ask questions. That is my way of life.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
I would lie if I said I had a favourite project. A project in physics usually arises when someone asks a question about a specific phenomenon we don’t quite understand. If we end up with a neat answer, we write a paper about it as a means to tell our story to other people.

But if I have to pick up one which makes the whole perspective about cosmology as dramatic as it can be, I will pick up my most recent one. By looking at clusters of galaxies and studying its statistics, one might be able to trace some features back into the primordial ages, when the universe was born. In some way, studying clusters is our back door to the early universe.

That means a whole 13.8 billion years of winding the tape backwards in time. It’s the best time machine one can hope for, and the good thing about it is that it is already there, offered by the universe, and we don’t need to build it. Simple and beautiful.

Role models and heroes:
This is a hard one and I’m not sure I have a good answer for it. What I can say is that I did admire Carl Sagan. His own fascination by the cosmos was certainly contagious. He had a very peculiar way of talking about it, as if every step was filled with that passion for discovery. Also, you could see how much imagination and creativity plays such an important role in a physicist’s life.

By drawing comparisons between completely different events in science, sometimes we are able to learn a lot from one phenomenon, which might enable us to learn more from another. For example, there are mathematical techniques which you can use in a variety of phenomena, in different branches of physics. What Carl Sagan fought me was to keep an open eye for these similarities, as they can help us when we less expected them to.

Also, I hope I have inherited the passion for my job from my Mother. She did set an incredible example to me as far as her dedication towards work goes. I know that is already half-way to fulfilment.

Why do you loving working in STEM?
The ability to keep asking questions as if you were still a child is definitely one of the best things of being a scientist. It’s your work, so it’s the perfect argument to keep wanting to learn more. But really, most of all, it does not feel like work. How can work be so much fun…? When you find yourself in the middle of a breakthrough the rush of adrenaline through your body tells you that is why you asked the question in the first place. Then you jump and ask another one. And you keep going…!

A very nice advantage of our work is that we do get the chance to travel around the world and learn from the best in our field. Scientists are very spread out across the globe, and from time to time they organise conferences from very afar places such as California, USA and Seoul, South Korea, where everyone gets together. We might all come from completely different backgrounds, but in the end we are still trying to understand how the universe works.

Advice for future STEMinists?
Above all, trust in yourself. You don’t need to be super smart to be a scientist. All you need is to let that need to ask questions empower you, and all of the sudden you will find yourself with a career in science. Then be stubborn. Being a stubborn scientist is good.

Favorite website or app:
I am an avid reader of Maria Popova’s website called ‘brain pickings’. It’s a nice mixture of science and culture ingredients, which lets you wander through very different themes. But be warned: very soon you will be completely addicted like me…!

Twitter: @RaquelHRibeiro

Site: http://www.damtp.cam.ac.uk/user/r.ribeiro/home.html