An anthology of the four IEEE-USA Women in Engineering E-books published in 2018 and early 2019 is now available — a meaningful gift choice for any girl or young woman aspiring to become an engineer. For that matter, almost any technology professional will be inspired by the motivating pep talk the volume provides during this challenging year.
Women in Engineering Compilation Volume 5: Books 17-20 is now available from the IEEE-USA Shop. It is free for members — a $25 savings! Non-members pay $35. Individually, each of these e-books is also free to members (a $7.99 saving per book) — and non-members pay $9.99 each book.
“As a profession, we need to encourage more women to pursue careers in technology — and bring their perspectives to the development of products engineers bring forward,” writes Paul J. Kostek, 1999 IEEE-USA President, in the foreword of the anthology. “Engaged professionals not only help the profession, but also can help the public to understand the implications and applications of our work.”
The authors of Books 17 – 20 are: Geetika Tandon, at the time, an executive with SRA International; Roxsana Hadjizadeh, new product program manager for Cisco Systems; Michelle Nanney, whose career path crosses many diverse businesses; and Dalma Novak, who co-founded a leading company for advanced antenna and high performance RF-over-fiber technologies.
In Geetika Tandon’s e-book, Women in Engineering Book 17: Reinventing Myself: Inspiration, Perspiration and Innovation, she notes that “Our successes ultimately result from the small steps we took that we sometimes didn’t even realize.” For Tandon, realizing her attraction to mathematics was possibly the element that influenced her eventual career path. After attending Delhi University, where she discontentedly studied architecture, she found her true passion while taking several computer-science courses in graduate school at the University of Southern California.
While with IBM, Tandon and her colleagues led groundbreaking work in creating new algorithms for voice servers. She was instrumental in their obtaining an eventual United States patent, which led her to new, career-building opportunities in IBM Software Sales. She has also been a consultant with Deloitte, taking part in the company’s work for the several federal departments, as well as leading STEM programs that encourage women and girls to pursue math and technical careers.
Roxsana Hadjizadeh’s e-book, Women in Engineering Book 18: Why I Am an Engineer, communicates her lifelong passion for technology and innovation. Growing up in pre-revolution Iran, she wrote her career ambitions in friends’ scrapbooks. Her parents supported her college education at Southern Illinois University, after which she went directly to Silicon Valley. Hadjizadeh shares her many positive career experiences, including a manager she writes “who always treated me as an equal, although I was far less experienced than him.”
In a chapter titled, “What I Love about Engineering,” Hadjizadeh says that “the opportunity to create useful products that help people to enjoy life and get more from it” has been an ongoing reason why she enjoys the profession. She points out that her IEEE membership — starting in 1980 as a Student member — has been one of her most important professional decisions, because of the wide range of leadership skills she has been able to develop.
In Michelle Nanney’s volume, Women in Engineering Book 19: An Engineer by Opportunity, the author recounts her career path across diverse businesses in multiple industries — including five e-commerce businesses. She also acknowledges her parents, who set high academic standards at home; and the “dose of humility,” when she needed a tutor to help her through a chemistry course at Texas A&M.
Nanney has focused her career on positions that didn’t always pay well but offered opportunities for additional learning, as well as travel and autonomy. She recounts the highs and lows of her e-commerce venture with her husband, running five businesses for seven years. Her decision to study for her MBA online pivoted her to a new direction, and she adds that living in Grenada for three years, while her husband attended medical school, got her out of her comfort zone — and also helped her discover new people and places.
Other insights include Nanney’s personal survival list after being fired, and the value of having an engineering degree. “Engineers are valuable anywhere, doing anything,” she writes.
Dalma Novak’s e-book, Women in Engineering Book 20: Seeing the Light: My Career in Engineering, is an inspiring story that journeys thousands of miles from Croatia to Australia and ultimately, to the United States. Now an IEEE Fellow, Past President of the IEEE Photonics Society, and internationally recognized expert on microwave and millimeter-wave photonics, Novak grew up in Australia — after emigrating there with her family when she was very young.
Her career as an academic led her to the University of Melbourne’s then-new Photonics Research Lab where her responsibilities and her reputation in the photonics world both grew. In 1999, while she and her husband were on sabbatical in the United States, they joined a start-up that flourished, until the telecoms bubble burst a few years later. This experience only whetted Novak’s — and her husband’s — appetites to start their own company. Using federal funding, they developed their own manufacturing facility. Today, they run Pharad, LLC, near Baltimore. “Who could have foreseen the enormous connection between the skills needed to be an effective academic and those of the owner of a successful technology business?” she reflects.
The previous volumes in the WIE series, as well as two volumes — one by Karen F. Pedersen and one by Alice F. Squires, and published in 2019, are also available from the IEEE-USA Shop. They are also free for members and $9.99 for non-IEEE members.
Helen Horwitz is an award-winning freelance writer who lives in Albuquerque, N.M. She was with IEEE from 1991 through 2011, the first nine as Staff Director, IEEE Corporate Communications.