What do Microsoft Corporation, Pacific Northwest National Laboratories, and the IEEE/IEEE-USA New Faces of Engineering have in common? Simple answer – Maria Vlachopoulou -- author of IEEE-USA’s Women in Engineering—Book 2: Passion, Perseverance, and Making a Difference.
Being different is not a problem, it is an opportunity.
In the IEEE-USA WIE series, Book 2 is the thought-provoking and inspiring story of Maria Vlachopoulou, a data analyst/program manager with Microsoft Corporation in Redmond, Washington. Vlachopoulou overcame great obstacles and challenges to pursue a technological career: limited pre-university opportunities to learn about technology in her hometown of Thessaloniki, Greece; learning to use a personal computer for the first time as a university freshman; undergraduate studies in her second language, English; and changing both career and engineering directions, while in graduate school.
After graduating high school in Greece, and with the support of her family, Vlachopoulou took a year off to sort out her life’s plan. She spent a year living in Italy, mostly in Perugia, where she had the freedom to think about what she wanted to do going forward—unburdened with the expectations of others. With this time to think freely, she figured it out. “I chose electrical and computer engineering, simply because I had been a huge fan of quantum physics, for as long as I could remember, and I could not wait to learn how these electrons move into semi-conductive devices!” she wrote.
Once you decide what you want, put all your efforts toward achieving it. Most worthwhile achievements are the result of great effort.
As a freshman engineering student in England, Vlachopoulou struggled to learn the math she had skipped in high school, the English written language -- and to come to terms with computer technology. Her efforts paid off, and the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign accepted her as a visiting scholar for a year, after completing her freshman studies. And so began her engineering adventures in the United States…
Always follow your dreams. It’s never easy to do a great job, but it becomes much easier, when you like what you do.
Vlachopoulou was the 2013 IEEE/IEEE-USA New Face of Engineering for her contributions to Smart Grid research, while employed by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), in Richland, Washington. She has two M.S. degrees: in Electrical and Computer Engineering; and in Industrial Engineering, from Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind.; and a Bachelor of Electronic and Electrical Engineering from the University of Sheffield, Sheffield, United Kingdom.
You belong to a larger community of some sort throughout your life: family, school, circle of friends, colleagues. However, you are a unique individual, too. Use your community to find yourself…
In addition to her technical achievements, Vlachopoulou volunteers to promote the profession. She is a member of the IEEE Power & Energy Society, IEEE Signal Processing Society and the Society of Women Engineers. She is founding chair of the Richland Section Women in Engineering affinity group, a previous vice-chair of the section’s Graduates of the Last Decade (GOLD) affinity group, and a prior assistant coordinator of the FIRST LEGO League annual tournament in the Tri-Cities, Wash. area.
Free in June and July to Members!
In June, IEEE-USA E-BOOKS is offering this award winning e-book free to IEEE members.
Now through 15 July, IEEE members can get a free download of this e-book by going to http://shop.ieeeusa.org/usashop/product/careers/76670. Log in with your IEEE Web account, add the book to your cart, and use promo code JUNFREE17 at checkout.
Call for Authors
IEEE-USA E-BOOKS seeks authors to write an individual e-book, or a series, on career guidance and development topics. If you have an idea you think will benefit members in a particular area of expertise, please email your proposal to IEEE-USA Publishing Manager Georgia C. Stelluto at email@example.com.
Georgia C. Stelluto is IEEE-USA's Publishing Manager, Manager/Editor of IEEE-USA E-BOOKS, and @IEEEUSA Department Editor for IEEE-USA InSight.