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International Women in Engineering Day: Defining Moments that Shaped These Engineers’ Careers

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women-in-engineering-4-1.pngEvery career story is characterized by defining moments. For some, it’s the words of an encouraging teacher. For others, it’s their drive to solve problems or desire to make a big impact in their field.

At Intel, these stories and unique pathways intersect and come to life through a shared motivation to create world-changing technology that enriches the lives of every person on earth.

In celebration of International Women in Engineering Day, we asked a few of our employees to share the defining moments that inspired their career in engineering, as well as the advice they have for young women considering this exciting field. These are their stories.

Karenga Ross, Director of Program Management Office for FPGA & Power Product Groups

“I remember watching the movie The Terminator, and I thought it would be so cool to build a cybernetic robot.” Her parents combined their own career strengths in programming and learning and development to help Karenga create a plan to pursue this passion at just 10 years old.

Karenga attended North Carolina A&T, HBCU, where a senior faculty member in the Engineering Department was an African American female. “To be able to see someone who looks like me teach other people about computer science, math, and engineering was so inspiring.” For Karenga, it wasn’t about just helping people through what she could create and build through engineering, it was also a way of giving back. She is currently the first LEGO League robotics lead for the Gaston School Districts as well as the STEM grant coordinator, working to get more STEM opportunities to the schools.

What advice do you have for women pursuing a career in engineering? 

“Don’t be afraid if there are elements you may not be good at; there are going to be others that you are great at. Pursue it, push and find your space because we need your voice, your ideas, and your solutions. Having diversity of thought, having a different perspective or a way of addressing problems is necessary for us to continue to move forward in society. Having more women in engineering gives a different thought and perspective in solving problems. It can inspire women when they see other women in great positions, obtaining patents, creating inventions, and being a CEO, to do the same. This will provide a more inclusive environment and provide for better solutions.”

Prabha Viswanathan, Software Performance Engineer

Prabha went into college knowing that math and design were her strengths, but it was her brother who got into the semiconductor industry and encouraged her to do the same. “While in college, I focused on my leadership and communication skills. I got involved in Women in Electrical and Computer Engineering and I grew with that organization, even leading as a president. I am very passionate about leadership and women’s empowerment.”

“In the real world, the engineering foundation from a technical degree really trains your mind around problem solving, really any kinds of problems.” It is this foundation of problem solving that drives Prabha’s curiosity and continuous pursuit of challenges.

What is your advice for women pursuing a career in engineering?

Everyone should be encouraged to dream. There is a lot of opportunity in STEM. I was always the minority in the class, so that is why I was involved in the Women in Electrical and Computer Engineering. It was a supportive community, and we were encouraging each other. That type of support framework is very helpful to keep everyone encouraged. In the tech industry there are so many opportunities for women to lead and make a difference. The only way this will happen is to have more women enter the space bravely and with confidence. Stay curious and don’t stop dreaming.”

Judi Goldstein, Director Open Source Audio

“I didn’t realize I was going to be an engineer when I grew up. I liked computers, I liked programming, and I liked mathematics.” It was the mental challenge, problem solving, and logic that drew Judi into development work and debugging.

“One of the defining moments of my career was realizing that the work I was producing would result in patents.” Today, Judi is listed as a co-inventor on 17 US Patents, mostly in the space of video or media. “It was a very exciting moment when I got my first patent.”

As for the importance of women in engineering, Judi believes their added perspective results in a better product. “Women play a huge part in us understanding our customers and being able to design for them. The problems we are solving are for everyone.”

What advice do you have for women considering engineering?

“Persistence. You must show up every day. You have to believe you can succeed and you can improve the culture and environment you work in.”

Harsha Priya, Chrome Audio Architect

“My dad made sure I focused on learning and being an individual.” Harsha brought this love of learning to her high school computer class and, with her teacher’s encouragement, decided to explore the field more during college.

“I was the first Linux audio driver developer to join in the team, enabling audio DSP on Intel SoC for the first time. I was working with the hardware and firmware for weeks to see how I could get the RVP to play the audio files. One late night, while in the lab, I was able to get the files to play. It was so amazing to make that breakthrough.” As an early-career developer, Harsha relied on a lot of on-the-job learning to accomplish this milestone.

It’s not just the projects that benefit from the varied perspectives and approaches female engineers provide, though; Harsha also believes this diversity of thought enhances the team dynamic. “When you bring diversity to the team and work together, that brings the life and spirit to the team where everyone can succeed.”

What advice do you have for women considering engineering?

“Engineering has a lot of branches, but it is a way that you can make something new that can be used by everyone in that field. Engineering and STEM empower you to make a mark on the world. It is not easy, but not being in your comfort zone helps you grow and develop.”

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