STEMinist Profile: Luz Rivas, Engineering Educator, Iridescent

Luz Rivas

Luz Rivas

Engineering Educator


What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
I was in Kindergarten during the 1980 Presidential Election and hearing about it on TV made me decide that I wanted to be President of the United States. After President Reagan was shot and I found out you had to be at least 35 to qualify, I decided this career wasn’t for me. A few years later when I was in fifth grade, my classroom got an Apple IIe computer and a few of us (all girls) were taught to program it.

I really liked the challenge and at the time it was something not many kids were doing. Compared to President of the United States, no career choice seemed impossible to me so I decided I wanted to pursue a computer-related career. I also didn’t know that computer and engineering fields were male-dominated and were considered hard. In high school I participated in the MESA program and learned what engineering was. I then decided to study Electrical Engineering.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
After college, I was an electrical hardware engineer for Motorola. I worked on an automotive telematics product that integrated GPS with other technologies. It was fun because at the time not much of this type of work was being done so I felt like I was in on something.

Right now, I’m working on a great project for Iridescent. We are producing videos of science researchers explaining their work to kids along with activities that kids can try at home. It’s important for kids to know about cutting-edge science research. I think kids should be aware that science is not a set of facts and that people are working on answering scientific questions and developing new technologies, sometimes in their own neighborhoods.

Role models/heroes:
Dr. Ellen Ochoa, she’s Latina and a EE so of course she was a role model for me

Why do you love working in STEM?
I now work in STEM education and I love it because I have the opportunity to share with kids, youth and adults how cool it is to work in these fields. I’m involved in different maker groups in LA where I have the opportunity to continue developing STEM skills and finding ways to inform my work. I also run a Meetup group for women (@DIYgirls) that are interested in learning new skills.

Advice for future STEMinists?
Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate to have had lots of people offer help and mentoring. While it’s been helpful, I haven’t always taken it or followed up with offers of help. Looking back, I wish I would have been more proactive in reaching out to mentors.

Favorite website/app:
I recently downloaded the Atari app. I love the old Centipede game.

Twitter: @luzrivas

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