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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Georgia C. Stelluto is IEEE-USA’s Publishing Manager, Manager/Editor of IEEE-USA E-BOOKS, and @IEEEUSA Department Editor for IEEE-USA InSight.