IEEE-USA InFocus

Spotlight On: Nita Patel, VP of Communications & Public Awareness

By Georgia C. Stelluto

Q:  Tell us a little about yourself, Nita.
A: I keep myself busy. I am the perfect model for “engineers don’t idle well”. I am the systems/software engineering manager at L-3 Insight Technology Incorporated and work on very cool soldier systems including rangefinders and night-vision systems. I volunteer with IEEE activities, volunteer with Toastmasters, organize chess tournaments all over New England with Alex, my husband of 15 years, and read 40-50 books a year (which is made easier by the fact that we haven’t had a TV since we’ve been married). I try to alternate between fiction and non-fiction but I invariably read way more fiction. I read all of Alexander McCall Smith books this past year. My favorites include Orson Scott Card, Robert Heinlein, Anne Rice, James Michener and Agatha Christie. My favorite downtime activity is taking a nap!

Q:  Misconception people have about engineers?
A: Error 42: Illogical statement – can’t be parsed properly.  Default result: No misconceptions exist. Have a mathematical day!

Q:  What you wanted to be when you grew up?
A: An engineer. I love solving problems. When I was little, I got excited when I figured out a way to solve a problem with existing, limited resources (kind of like MacGyver). I still get excited when I can make something work without the ideal instruments or resources. My mother still sets aside broken electronics or mechanical gadgets for me to fix and/or assemble when I visit.

Q: Best thing about living in Bedford, NH?
A: It’s gorgeous. I love the distinct seasons, especially the crisp, clean, cool autumn mornings and wonderful spring days. I like living in a relatively small city with a short commute but still having access to foreign films (Boston) and the beautiful outdoors (practically anywhere in New England).

Q:  Most treasured object?
A: My engagement ring. It’s purple, Teflon-coated, 28-AWG wire intertwined into a loop. I don’t wear it often, but the best feature of the ring is that it easily adjusts to always fit my finger perfectly. What was that about misconceptions?

Q:  Morning routine?
A: When I’m good, I get up after one snooze (6:09 is ok but 6:00 seems too early) and exercise (jogging, weights or the bike). When I’m not good, I get up after 3-4 snoozes and skip the exercising. I pack my lunch and check my home email after the workout. I limit myself to no more than 15 minutes of email before getting ready for work. When I get to work, I eat my yogurt while checking my calendar for the excitement coming up that day.

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Q:  Evening routine?
A: There’s a slightly different schedule for each day of the week due to my volunteer activities. I get home anywhere between 7:30pm and 9pm depending on my evening commitments.  Whenever I do get home, I chat with Alex while I make dinner, read while eating, tackle home/volunteer email and then get to bed as soon as email is done or I’m too tired to continue.

Q:  What is always with you?
A: My skin. Honestly, there’s not any item I always have with me.

Q:  Best Award?
A: RSIS President’s Award for Technical Excellence, 2003. However, the most unlikely award (I’m still surprised) was being named SMU’s Engineering Homecoming Queen.

Q: Broken item you cannot part with?
A: I tend to throw out broken and unused items (much to Alex’s annoyance). I do have items that I don’t use frequently but nothing that’s broken. Nevertheless, I see no point in getting rid of an item, no matter how old, as long as it works. For example, my reliable 1996 Toyota Camry has taken us over 390,000 miles and I hope to get a few hundred thousand more.

Q: Newest gadget?
A: I’m not a gadget freak. I work on cool gadgets but don’t buy many. My newest gadget has to be my Blackberry, which I got only because it was issued by my work. I have had it for two years but I only know how to use the phone and email on it.


Georgia C. Stelluto is IEEE-USA’s Publishing Manager, Editor-in Chief of IEEE-USA in ACTION, and Manager/Editor of IEEE-USA E-Books.

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Guest Contributor

IEEE-USA is an organizational unit of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE), created in 1973 to support the career and public policy interests of IEEE’s U.S. members. IEEE-USA is primarily supported by an annual assessment paid by U.S. IEEE Members.

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