Looking for a STEM Job? Head to These States

LinkedIn
employees seated at a meeting table with woman pointing to whiteboard

Milken Institute’s 2018 State Technology and Science Index, a biennial assessment of states’ capabilities and competitiveness in a tech-focused economy, ranked the top ten states to pursue a STEM career.

  1. Massachusetts
  2. Colorado
  3. Maryland
  4. California
  5. Utah
  6. Washington
  7. Delaware
  8. Minnesota
  9. New Hampshire
  10. Oregon

“The success stories of states profiled in this year’s index reflect sustained efforts to not only build but to maintain their ecosystem,” said Kevin Klowden, executive director of the Milken Institute Center for Regional Economics. “Making the changes that are necessary to perform well on the State Technology and Science Index can contribute to stronger long-term economic performance.”

Massachusetts benefitted from the presence of major research universities, the availability of venture capital, entrepreneurial expertise, and a tech-oriented workforce, according to the report. The state was first in three of the index’s five composite indexes and finished third in another. Massachusetts continues to strengthen its position in tech and science by increasing public funding of neuroscience research, cybersecurity innovation, and startup development.

Utah’s move to fifth was driven by tech-sector employment growth – the fastest in the nation – averaging 4.3 percent annually. The state also had the most university graduates with degrees in science and engineering – 15.4 per 1,000 students. Utah stood out for the success of its universities in spinning research into commercial ventures.

Delaware rose to seventh from tenth, strengthened by an increase in venture capital invested in technology companies. The Legislature authorized a 25 percent tax credit for small companies (those with fewer than 25 employees) engaged in research and development in specific high-tech fields. The state ranks fifth in the number of business startups with 53.4 per 1,000 residents.

The State Technology and Science Index provides a benchmark for policymakers to evaluate their state’s capabilities and formulate strategies for improving STEM education, attracting businesses, and creating jobs in the tech sector. Indices considered in the report include the number of patents issued and doctoral degrees granted in each state.

“Investing in human capital and developing a STEM workforce is crucial for regional economies that want to attract large technology companies and the jobs they bring,” explains Minoli Ratnatunga, Milken Institute’s director of regional economics research.

In addition to the index, the report offers case studies that examine issues such as non-compete contracts that limit employee mobility, along with access to higher education in building a vibrant, adaptable workforce.

Drawing on this data, the report recommends four steps policymakers can take to improve their state’s competitiveness:

Increase scholarships and other financial aid to lower the cost of higher education for in-state students who plan STEM careers.

Better align STEM curriculums to make it easier for students to transfer credits from lower-cost two-year colleges to four-year institutions.

Encourage partnerships between higher-education institutions and private companies to provide students with work experience to improve workforce readiness and job placement.

Make employee noncompete laws less restrictive to encourage a freer exchange of ideas and talent among tech companies.

The index draws on data from government and private sources dating from 2015 to 2017, including the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Science Foundation, the Small Business Administration, the American Community Survey, and Moody’s Analytics.

Source: milkeninstitute.org

Selena Gomez Surprises Students at Her Texas Middle School: ‘Know That Anything’s Possible

LinkedIn
Selena Gomez hugs a surprised in classroomstudent at her old middle school

Selena Gomez went back to her roots and surprised students at her old middle school in Texas.

On Monday, the award-winning artist went back to where it all began at Danny Jones Middle School in Mansfield, Texas, stopping by her old stomping grounds to encourage current students and reconnect with some of her past teachers.

“Hello, students at Danny Jones Middle School. This is Selena Gomez talking to you,” the 27-year-old said over the intercom, in a video shared by the school on the Mansfield Independent School District’s website.

According to the school, Gomez had returned to her hometown to film for a new documentary about her childhood.

“This trip, I wanted to take my best friend Courtney, and also some of my people from my label, just to show them where I grew up and how proud I am of where I’m from,” Gomez explained. “Some of my teachers I got to see again, and they were part of my life for so long.”

While the former Disney Channel star greeted students in a montage of videos — taking selfies and granting hugs —  her seventh-grade basketball coach recalled the type of student the singer was when she walked the halls.

“As a student, Selena was so humble and she was very kind,” Gray said. “She had a really kind, soft spirit. Hard, hard worker. Real humble. Just a real neat kid.”

Gray also described the day Gomez told her she was withdrawing from school to move to Florida and pursue her acting career. “I remember the day that she was leaving Jones,” Gray recalled. “She said ‘Oh I’m just going to Florida.’”

“And I said ‘How come?’ She said, ‘Oh I’m just going to be in a little Disney film.’” Gray added. “I said, ‘Oh. OK.’ Because sometimes middle school kids kind of exaggerate.”

Continue on to People to read the complete article.

Eva Longoria Honored With Beacon Award At 13th Annual ADCOLOR Awards Ceremony In Los Angeles

LinkedIn
Eva Longoria accepts Beacon Award onstage

Each year, the ADCOLOR Awards ceremony recognizes individuals making strides in the fields of marketing, advertising, public relations, media and entertainment, in diversity and inclusion.

For its 13th annual celebration—hosted by New York Times best-selling author Luvvie Ajayi and presented by Facebook, Google, YouTube, Microsoft and Omnicom Group—honored philanthropist, actress, producer and director of UnbeliEVAble Entertainment (and Haute Living cover star), Eva Longoria, among others.

Each of the nominees and honorees are carefully and thoughtfully chosen from a large pool of change makers in each of their respective industries. The winner in each category is the one who represents ADCOLOR’s motto best, which is “Rise Up and Reach Back.” They are honored not just for the accomplishments in their own careers, but also how they are able to give back to their community. The organization’s goal is to “create a network of diverse professionals to encourage and celebrate one another.”

There is no better honoree to set the tone of Adweek’s inaugural Beacon Award than Eva Longoria,” said Lisa Granatstein, Editor, SVP, Programming, Adweek. “From her formidable seven-year-old Eva Longoria Foundation that empowers Latinas via STEM education and entrepreneurship to her leadership role calling for diversity in Hollywood, Eva’s remarkable accomplishments are both authentic and action-oriented.”

The inaugural Beacon Award honors talent who uses their celebrity as a catalyst to change the status quo in the quest for diversity and inclusion. In May, ADCOLOR and Adweek partnered on the first Champion awards and celebration recognizing the fearless leaders and rising stars in marketing and media who embody ADCOLOR’s call to “Rise Up. Reach Back.”

Continue on to Haute Living to read the complete article.

Mexican Scientist Creates Biodegradable Plastic Straw From Cactus

LinkedIn
Sandra Ortiz stands in kitchen behind table filled with vaiations of her new plastic

Researchers from the University of Valle de Atemajac in Zapopan, Mexico have created a biodegradable plastic from the juice of the prickly pear cactus.

The new material begins to break down after sitting in the soil for a month and when left in water, it breaks down in a matter of days. Plus, it doesn’t require crude oil like traditional plastics.

“There were some publications that spoke of different materials with which biodegradable plastics could be made, including some plants,” Sandra Pascoe Ortiz, the research professor who developed the material, told Forbes.

“In this case the nopal cactus has certain chemical characteristics with which I thought it could be feasible to obtain a polymer, that if it was combined with some other substances, all of them natural, a non-toxic biodegradable plastic would be obtained. The process is a mixture of compounds whose base is the nopal. It’s totally non-toxic, all the materials we use could be ingested both by animals or humans and they wouldn’t cause any harm.”

This means that even if any of this material made its way into the ocean, it will safely dissolve. It’s estimated that between 1.15 million to 2.41 million tonnes of plastic are entering the ocean each year from rivers. Last month, divers found a plastic KFC bag from the 1970s during an ocean clean-up off the waters off Bulcock Beach in Queensland, Australia and earlier this year, during a dive to the bottom of the Mariana Trench – the deepest point in the ocean – a plastic bag was found.

According to Ortiz, the project was born in a science Fair of the The nopal cactus sitting on table with blender in the backgroundDepartment of Exact Sciences and Engineering, in the chemistry class with industrial engineering students of the career. They began to make some attempts to obtain a plastic using cactus as raw material.

“From that I decided to start a research project in a formal way. Currently in the project collaborate researchers from the University of Guadalajara in conjunction with the University of Valle de Atemajac.”

Continue on to Forbes to read the complete article.

40th College Television Awards Submission Period Begins Sept. 5

LinkedIn
College Television Awards logo

The Television Academy Foundation Awards Ceremony Celebrates Student-Produced Programs From Colleges Nationwide. The submission period for the Television Academy Foundation’s 40th College Television Awards is Sept. 5 through Oct. 3, 2019.

Each year hundreds of graduate and undergraduate students, representing colleges and universities nationwide, submit their media projects to television’s most prestigious student competition—the Television Academy Foundation’s College Television Awards.

The College Television Awards honors achievement in student-produced programs and will feature stars from today’s top television shows presenting awards to winners at the red-carpet awards ceremony.

Emulating the Emmy® Awards selection process, entries for the College Television Awards are judged by Television Academy members. Top honors and a $3,000 cash prize will be presented to winning teams in eight categories: drama, comedy, animation, nonfiction, promotional, news, sports and variety. The College Television Awards also includes two additional, donor-supported, categories: the Seymour Bricker Humanitarian Award and the Loreen Arbus Focus on Disability Scholarship.

In addition to the awards ceremony, the nominees will take part in a three-day television summit hosted by the Television Academy Foundation. The summit, designed to enhance professional development, will feature panel discussions, studio tours and networking opportunities with industry executives and Academy members.

The College Television Awards often serves as an entry point for a career in television for nominees and winners. Past alumni have worked as editors, writers, producers and other positions on programs including Ray Donovan, The Handmaid’s Tale, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, CBS This Morning, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Grey’s Anatomy, 60 Minutes, Empire and many more.

For additional information, visit TelevisionAcademy.com/CTA.

To read the complete article continue on to The Patch.

Affordable, Culturally Relevant Tribally Chartered Institutions Help Native American Students Launch Careers

LinkedIn
American Indian College Fund

Education has been heralded as the “great equalizer,” but today only 14% of Native Americans in the United States ages 25 and older have a bachelor’s degree or higher—less than half of that of other groups.

The key to eliminating this disparity may be tribal colleges and universities (TCUs)— affordable, accredited, culturally relevant higher education institutions chartered by tribes serving Native students on or near Indian reservations. American Indian college graduates who attended TCUs enjoy significant benefits over college students attending other academic institutions, according to a new American Indian College Fund and Gallup survey report titled Alumni of Tribal Colleges and Universities Better Their Communities.

The report shows TCU graduates are creating a unique and community-focused life after graduation, outpacing the efforts of graduates from mainstream academic institutions, as well as possible reasons for that, in the following ways:

TCU graduates are giving back to their communities. Seventy-four percent of TCU graduates surveyed say they have forged careers serving their communities and societies. More than half report a deep interest in the work they do in careers that serve their communities such as education, healthcare, social services, and more. Perhaps because of the ability to do work that they find meaningful, more than half of TCU graduates report they are deeply interested in the work they do (53%) and half (50%) say they have the opportunity to do work that interests them, compared to 38% and 37% of college graduates nationally.

TCU graduates received greater support in college. TCU graduates (43%) are more than twice as likely as American Indian/Alaska Native graduates of non-TCUs (21%) and college graduates nationally (18%) to recall experiencing three critical support measures in college: having a professor who cared about them as a person, having a professor who made them excited about learning, and having a mentor who encouraged them to pursue their goals and dreams. TCU graduates outpace non-TCU American Indian/Alaska Native graduates in all three measures, with the gap between TCU and non-TCU graduates the widest for having professors who cared about them as people (59% vs. 33%, respectively).

TCU graduates are more likely to be debt-free. TCU graduates are more likely to state their education was worth the cost—67% as opposed to 39% of college graduates nationally. Only 3% of TCU graduates took student loans as compared to 19% of students nationally, leaving them debt free as they pursue their preferred careers after graduation. Lack of debt also has a positive impact on college graduates’ financial well-being and that of their families.

TCU graduates are thriving in all aspects of well-being. TCU graduates report nearly twice as much as graduates nationwide that they are thriving financially, socially, and in their communities and careers.

Tribal colleges and universities are geographically and culturally diverse but share common goals such as integrating cultural values and connection to land into curriculum and pedagogy while emphasizing community outreach and education that is rooted in tribal identity and practice. In 2017, over 11% of American Indian students studying at a U.S. two-or four-year public or private not-for-profit postsecondary institution attended one of the 35 accredited TCUs.

Cheryl Crazy Bull, President and CEO of the American Indian College Fund, said, “All of us who have worked with tribal colleges and universities since their founding in 1968 recognized that these place-based, culturally-rooted institutions transformed lives and communities. Through the support of Strada Education Network and a partnership with Gallup, we are able to provide the data to back this up. Our graduates tell the story of our success as tribal institutions. More support for tribal colleges and universities would expand this transformative experience to more Native and rural citizens.”

The Alumni of Tribal Colleges and Universities Better Their Communities survey report is the result of a survey of 5,000 American Indian College Fund scholars to gather information about the value of an education rooted in Native American values. The survey was funded by a grant to the American Indian College Fund by the Strada Education Network.

To download a copy of the report, please visit https://collegefund.org/inside-the-college-fund/gallup-american-indian-college-fund-survey-report-tcu-alumni-outperform-other-college-graduates-affordable-culturally-relevant-tribally-chartered-institutions-help-students-launch-community-caree.

About the American Indian College Fund—Founded in 1989, the American Indian College Fund has been the nation’s largest charity supporting Native higher education for 30 years. The College Fund believes “Education is the answer” and provided 5,896 scholarships last year totaling $7.65 million to American Indian students, with more than 131,000 scholarships and community support totaling over $200 million since its inception. The College Fund also supports a variety of academic and support programs at the nation’s 35 accredited tribal colleges and universities which are located on or near Indian reservations, ensuring students have the tools to graduate and succeed in their careers. The College Fund consistently receives top ratings from independent charity evaluators and is one of the nation’s top 100 charities named to the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance. For more information about the American Indian College Fund, please visit collegefund.org.

Not Only Does This New Clothing Charge Your Phone, It Can Protect You From Viruses and Bacteria

LinkedIn
man wearing a suit being splashed with water

A new addition to your wardrobe may soon help you turn on the lights and music—all while also keeping you dry, clean, and safe from the latest virus that’s going around.

That’s because Purdue University researchers have developed a new fabric innovation that allows wearers to control electronic devices through their clothing.

Purdue University researchers have developed a new fabric innovation that allows wearers to control electronic devices through clothing.

“It is the first time there is a technique capable to transform any existing cloth item or textile into a self-powered e-textile containing sensors, music players or simple illumination displays using simple embroidery without the need for expensive fabrication processes requiring complex steps or expensive equipment,” said Ramses Martinez, an assistant professor in the School of Industrial Engineering and in the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering in Purdue’s College of Engineering.

The technology is featured in the July 25 edition of Advanced Functional Materials.

“For the first time, it is possible to fabricate textiles that can protect you from rain, stains, and bacteria while they harvest the energy of the user to power textile-based electronics,” Martinez said. “These self-powered e-textiles also constitute an important advancement in the development of wearable machine-human interfaces, which now can be washed many times in a conventional washing machine without apparent degradation.”

Martinez said the Purdue waterproof, breathable and antibacterial self-powered clothing is based on omniphobic triboelectric nanogenerators (RF-TENGs) – which use simple embroidery and fluorinated molecules to embed small electronic components and turn a piece of clothing into a mechanism for powering devices. The Purdue team says the RF-TENG technology is like having a wearable remote control that also keeps odors, rain, stains and bacteria away from the user.

“While fashion has evolved significantly during the last centuries and has easily adopted recently developed high-performance materials, there are very few examples of clothes on the market that interact with the user,” Martinez said. “Having an interface with a machine that we are constantly wearing sounds like the most convenient approach for a seamless communication with machines and the Internet of Things.”

The technology is being patented through the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization. The researchers are looking for partners to test and commercialize their technology.

Continue on to Purdue University to read the complete article.

The Latin Business Action Network is recruiting Latinx CEOs for the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative

LinkedIn
Young Hispanic Businesswoman sitting in a office chairin Office

There is an educational opportunity coming up for any Latinx Hispanic-Owned Businesses. If you fit the criteria, you are encouraged to apply.

The Latin Business Action Network (LBAN) is recruiting 75-80 Latinx CEOs for the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative (SLEI); its next session (a cohort 8) will run from October 8 – December 7 at Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA.

** You are expected to attend the in-person kick-off weekend on October 12th – October 13th, 2019 at Stanford GSB.

What is the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative-Education Scaling program?

The scaling education program is an immersive seven-week online program providing participants with valuable scaling frameworks, a diversified network of capital providers, business mentorship and a deep understanding of mobilizing resources for sustainable business growth.

For more information about the program go to: lban.us/stanford-latino-entrepreneur-leaders/

There are two visits to Stanford University Graduate School of Business (kickoff weekend and graduation).

Wells Fargo is one of the top sponsors of SLEI (this capacity building program has graduated more than 500 Latinx CEOs since its inception).

If you know or are a scaled Latinx entrepreneur (over $1 Million in annual gross revenues), please visit the recruitment/application page.

Are You a Latina Going Out of State For College? You Need to Read This

LinkedIn
Mother hugging daughter as she packs car for college

You made it to college, congratulations! You made it to college as a first-generation Latina and you’re going out of state or even a few hours away from home? Double kudos to you.

College is a wild ride for us all. Yes, you’re going to have the adventure of a lifetime. You’ll do the partying, the stay-up-all-night studying, and the bragging about both. It’s usually a fun time for many of us. While I don’t think you’ll need preparation for the fun, you will need some guidance for the things no one tells you about.

As a first-generation college student and Cuban immigrant, I left my warm sunny-side-up town, Miami, to pursue a bachelor’s degree in college-town central: Amherst, MA. There were many reasons for my decision, but mostly I wanted to explore something different — and boy, did my experience deliver. As my old literary companion Robert Frost once worded it, it really did make all the difference.

So if you’re headed toward a similar path, you’re about to enter a beautiful and transformative period in your life. Here’s what you need to know.

You’ll sound different.

This is especially true for students who come from big cities living in immigrant neighborhoods. I want you to know that you will sound different when you speak, and it may or may not be challenging in many ways, but it will teach you an important life lesson: your right to claim your space.

In Miami, I had no idea I even had an accent — everyone sounded like me. In Amherst, my accent was so pronounced, I heard it, and heard about it every day. At first, I’ll admit it became an impediment to my speaking up in class and sharing my thoughts with friends. And because I didn’t think having an accent was OK, I struggled to minimize it as much as I could. It was only until I found people who spoke like me — or with some kind of accent — that I was able to feel a little less phonetically alone. So, yes, at times you might feel ashamed, shy, or upset that you don’t sound like your average American classmate, but don’t worry. It won’t always be this way, and soon you’ll learn to use your voice as your asset.

You should find people like you, even if you don’t think you need to.

When we decide to go away for college, we generally want everything new and nothing of the old. You might not want to make friends with the same people you knew from high school per se, but you’ll definitely want to find a community of people who understand your background, because not everyone will. If you’re going out of state, a lot can become a culture shock, such as the foods you eat — yes, people will think you’re weird for eating a banana with rice and beans, but they will also love to learn about it.

One of the things that kept me warmest during New England winters were fleece sweaters. The second was my Latinx community, getting together to make foods we could easily find at a bodega in our hometown and, dare I say it, speaking the language we so resented growing up: Español.

Social status will — sort of — be a thing.

It won’t be an extremely important thing, but it’ll be more present than in the past. At least it was for me. The North Face backpack, Ugg boots, and Lululemon leggings my friend from Maine could afford were not accessible to me — not that a Miami girl really had any desire to wear Uggs, but you get the gist. It was one of the first times I saw class thrown in my face.

Continue on to Pop Sugar to read the complete article.

Cmd-It Announces 2019 Richard A. Tapia Award Winner Cristina Villalobos

LinkedIn
Cristina Villalobos, Tapia award winner, poses in a gray blazer and red blouse

CMD-IT recently announced the recipient of The Richard A. Tapia Achievement Award for Scientific Scholarship, Civic Science and Diversifying Computing is Cristina Villalobos, the Myles and Sylvia Aaronson Professor in the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and Founding Director of the Center of Excellence in STEM Education.

The Richard A. Tapia Award is given annually to an individual who is a distinguished computational or computer scientist or computer engineer and who is making significant contributions to civic areas such as teaching, mentoring, advising, and building and serving communities. The individual is also one who demonstrates extraordinary leadership in increasing the participation of groups who are underrepresented in the sciences.

“Cristina Villalobos is a leading mathematician in the fields of optimization, optimal control and modelling,” said Valerie Taylor, CMD-IT CEO and President.  “Throughout her career she has significantly impacted different applications areas through her research in optimization; impacting areas such as the treatment of eye disease and the design of antennas.  In addition, Cristina has focused on strengthening STEM academic programs, providing resources for the academic and professional development of students and faculty, and increasing the number of underrepresented students attaining STEM degrees.  She has been a leader in student mentoring, increasing the number of Hispanic students pursuing PhD’s in mathematics.”

The Richard A. Tapia award will be presented at the 2019 ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing Conference. Themed “Diversity: Building a Stronger Future,” the Tapia Conference will be held September 18-21, in San Diego, California.  The Tapia Conference is the premier venue to bring together students, faculty, researchers and professionals from all backgrounds and ethnicities in computing to promote and celebrate diversity in computing. The Tapia Conference is sponsored by the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) and presented by the Center for Minorities and People with Disabilities in IT (CMD-IT).

The Tapia conference sponsors include Diamond Sponsor Qualcomm, Platinum Sponsors Caltech, Cornell Computing and Information Science, Georgia Tech, JP Morgan Chase & Co, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Rice University, Stanford University Computer Science, STARS Computing Corps, Two Sigma, University of California Berkeley, University of California San Diego Science and Engineering Department, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, and University of Michigan. Gold Sponsors include Atlassian, Blendoor, Capital One, Cisco, CRA, Georgia Tech Research Institute, Google, Harvey Mudd College, Kennesaw State University, University of Maryland, College Park, University of North Carolina Charlotte and Virginia Tech. Gold Government Supporters include Argonne National Laboratory, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratory.

The early bird pricing for the Tapia Conference ends July 8th. For more information and to register for the Tapia Conference, visit tapiaconference.org.

About CMD-IT

The vision of CMD-IT is to contribute to the national need for an effective workforce in computing and IT through inclusive programs and initiatives focused on minorities and people with disabilities. CMD-IT’s vision is accomplished through its mission to ensure that underrepresented groups are fully engaged in computing and IT, and to promote innovation that enriches, enhances and enables underrepresented communities. For more information, please visit cmd-it.org.

Inspiring Young Girls to Believe

LinkedIn
Zaida Hernadez poses in an outdoor setting

Zaida Hernandez-Irisson is an engineer and a mentor. A senior at Milwaukee School of Engineering, Zaida also works in the engineering department at FISCHER USA.

She’s the first in her family to attend college, and she’s now involved in several programs that allow her to mentor young girls interested in engineering. She wants to help them believe in themselves, to succeed. The obstacles she overcame in her own life to become an engineer make her uniquely positioned to help others break through such barriers as language, financial issues, or the difficulty of the field.

Zaida began her engineering education at Gateway Technical College, where she earned her associates degree in both biomedical engineering technology and electrical engineering technology. During her time there, she was named the Student Star Ambassador and Ambassador to the Wisconsin Technical College System, giving her the opportunity to share her story of perseverance.

And Zaida shared some of her story with Diversity in STEAM Magazine, when we asked her about her journey to becoming an engineer.

What made you pursue electrical engineering?

Desire to help people is one of the most influential reasons for me pursuing engineering. After realizing in high school that my original interest in the medical field was not for me, I started to look into fields that could allow me to better fulfil my calling. After stumbling across an aptitude test, I found out engineering was a possibility for me. Learning how engineers help communities through the betterment of communication, transportation, medical instrumentation, and day-to-day devices really confirmed that engineering was the path I wanted to pursue.

What do you love most about your job?

Upon graduating from Gateway Technical College, an international company, FISCHER USA, Inc., hired me to join the engineering department. I was very fortunate to find such an amazing company. Knowing that I wanted to continue my education, I found the support, flexibility, and mentorship I needed within the company. I love that our engineering team is very positive and energetic. We all work on projects together and get to grow as engineers together. Being accepted for who I am encouraged me to purse my passion, and having the ability to grow is what makes me love my job.

What advice would you give others who want to pursue engineering?

I tell students, if engineering is truly their passion, not to let anything get in their way of their education. Even though engineering is a very demanding field of study, the reward of helping others by improving technology outweighs other sacrifices. If you’re in a situation where you’re not sure how to achieve your goal, don’t be afraid to knock on doors and ask for help.

What is the most important thing you learned about your career?

The most important thing I’ve learned about my career is that my opportunities in the field are endless. I used to believe that when I became an electrical engineer I would stay strictly within that focus of engineering. It took me a while to realize that all engineers are problem solvers and that our critical thinking skills plus our educational knowledge can take us in different career paths other than just what is on our degrees.

What has been your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?

One of the biggest challenges I’ve had is not losing my confidence and myself. My educational journey has not been a traditional one. Coming from an immigrant family, I had the support from my parents to go to college but no financial means to achieve it. A four-year institution was very far from my reach right after high school. I started at Gateway Technical College as an English Language Learner student to improve my English. Soon after, I showed up to my first engineering lecture at the same college with nothing but the desire to succeed and the dictionary definition of what engineering was. Being in a male-dominated field of study was hard, and it was even harder when most of my peers had engineering experience from high school or their hobbies, and I had none. It took a lot of sleepless nights and mentors to graduate with a dual degree in biomedical engineering and electrical engineering technology. Soon after I transferred to the Milwaukee School of Engineering, where I am wrapping up a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. At the beginning, I kept to myself a lot—as a Latina student, I tried to blend in with the class and not bring attention to myself. I started to lose touch with my authentic self. It wasn’t until one of my professors took me under his wing that I started to understand that being different was a good thing. That showcasing who I was could inspire girls who are like me to pursue engineering. That was the turning point of my career and the beginning of my work in the community.

Zaida has served as a chapter president for the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) for three years and is the former Ms. Mexican Fiesta Ambassador, where her she used her platform to spread awareness of STEM fields. As a first-generation immigrant college student, Zaida understands the barriers nontraditional engineering students have to face. For this reason, she plans on continuing to support the Wisconsin Hispanic Scholarship Foundation by promoting higher education among our community.