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How One Cybersecurity Student Found A Home At Intel—In And Out Of The Classroom

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Poised to start grad school, Racheal Crippen happened to sit next to an Intel employee on a flight to California. This is how her journey at Intel began – taking her from student to cybersecurity architect to inclusion leader.

After completing her bachelor’s in electrical engineering in 2019, Racheal (Ruth) Crippen joined Intel as an FPGA security architect in the Programmable Solutions Group, working on military, aerospace government business unit projects in San Jose, CA. Though she originally found her way to Intel by sitting next to an employee on a flight and networking, she was eventually hired because of her skills and experience. At first, she was nervous to talk to the employee on the plane, but when she did, the conversation was easy, “we talked about my engineering background, internship experience, and how I could fit into Intel. And he was like, oh, just send me your resume and I'll talk to the hiring manager.”

Now, Racheal works on security features for Intel’s FPGA products, creating solutions around anti-tamper, glitching, side channel attacks, and various other threats and vulnerabilities. The variety of projects she’s involved with make use of her continued education, covering areas like artificial intelligence ethics, 5G security, and more. She says, “It suited me to go into security since it is something I wanted to do in my undergrad. I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but it just happened to flow when I got to Intel.”

Racheal is doing all this while enrolled in grad school. “When I got hired, I had just been accepted into the cybersecurity master’s program with the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.” She finds her manager and team encourage learning, and her current role is helping prepare her to be a successful student in her master’s program. “A lot of the questions I have, I am able to ask my mentor or my team – they have taught me a lot of things even before I learn them in class.”

And the learning goes beyond technical matters, emphasizing Intel’s culture of inclusion and transparency. In recent months, Racheal has taken the lead on starting a book club for her team about race. “We’re trying to keep the conversation going and do our best to educate ourselves and people around us so that we can be a part of the solution for systemic racism and for social injustice.” The response from the team has been amazing. “I thought it would be a onetime event and done, but my manager is adamant he wants to be a part of the solution. If our CEO is taking a stand, we have to do our part and take a stand and be part of the solution.” Racheal is also part of Network of Intel’s African Ancestry Group (NIA), which has also been involved with several efforts, including recruiting potential new employees at the National Society of Black Engineers’ (NSBE) virtual conference.

And Racheal says she sees these values play out in the reality of the workplace. “When I came to Intel, I could look around and see all types of people, all types of ages and it was just welcoming, like you’re at a home. The environment is overall amazing. You don’t feel like you’re going to be left out or not included, not listened to. Everyone has a voice, and I always share my opinions and I feel valued.”
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