Diversity/Careers in Engineering & Information Technology



April/May 2018

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Diversity/Careers April/May 2018

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Worcester Polytechnic Institute names Laurie Leshin president

Worcester, MA – The Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI, Worcester, MA) board of trustees announced the selection of Laurie Leshin, PhD, as the university’s sixteenth president. Leshin will be the first woman to serve in that role when she takes over from interim president Philip B. Ryan in July.

“In addition to bringing exceptional academic credentials from some of our nation’s leading universities, Laurie also brings tremendous experience and expertise from her time spent in leadership positions at NASA,” said Warner Fletcher, WPI board chair. “We are proud to have her at the helm of this fine university.”

“WPI has been a leading innovator in engineering, technology and science education for nearly 150 years,” said Leshin. “I am energized by the prospect of getting to know the members of the WPI community and raising the profile of this great university. I look forward to many productive years of collaboration, and I can’t wait to get started.”

Leshin, a geochemist and space scientist, began her academic career in 1994 as a University of California President’s postdoctoral fellow at UCLA in the department of earth and space science. She was named a W.W. Rubey Faculty Fellow.

From 1998 to 2005 Leshin was a scientist and professor at Arizona State University (ASU, Tempe). In 2005 she joined NASA as director of science and exploration at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Leshin was promoted to deputy center director for science and technology at NASA Goddard in 2008. In 2010 she was tapped to join NASA’s exploration systems mission directorate in Washington, DC.

Leshin comes to WPI from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI, Troy, NY) where she became dean of the school of science in 2011. At RPI, Leshin continued her research and national service as a funded science team member for the Mars Curiosity Rover mission. During that time she was appointed by President Obama to the advisory board for the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum, and by former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to the advisory board of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.

The International Astronomical Union has recognized her contributions to planetary science by naming Asteroid 4922 Leshin; she has received other honors from NASA and the Meteoritical Society, and served on several boards.

Leshin received her BS in chemistry from ASU in 1987. She earned an MS in geochemistry in 1989 and a PhD in geochemistry in 1994 at California Institute of Technology (Pasadena).

Satya Nadella new CEO of Microsoft

Redmond, WA – Satya Nadella is the new chief executive officer of Microsoft Corp, the third CEO in the company’s history.

The board of directors announced the appointment in February. Nadella will also serve as a member of the board. He previously held the position of executive vice president of Microsoft’s cloud and enterprise group.

“During this time of transformation, there is no better person to lead Microsoft than Satya Nadella,” said Bill Gates, Microsoft’s founder and member of the board of directors. “Satya is a proven leader with hard-core engineering skills, business vision and the ability to bring people together. His vision for how technology will be used and experienced around the world is exactly what Microsoft needs as the company enters its next chapter of expanded product innovation and growth.”

Nadella joined the company in 1992. He has spearheaded major strategy and technical shifts across the company’s portfolio of products and services, including the company’s move to the cloud and the development of one of the largest cloud infrastructures in the world supporting Bing, Xbox, Office and other services. During his tenure overseeing Microsoft’s server and tools business, the division outperformed the market and took share from competitors.

“Microsoft is one of those rare companies to have revolutionized the world through technology, and I couldn’t be more honored to have been chosen to lead the company,” Nadella said.

A native of Hyderabad, India, Nadella earned a bachelors degree in electrical engineering from Mangalore University (Manipal, India), a masters degree in computer science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a masters degree in business administration from the University of Chicago.

He was a member of the technology staff at Sun Microsystems before joining Microsoft.

Nielsen names D. Sangeeta chief diversity officer

New York, NY – Nielsen, a provider of information and insights into buying and viewing habits, announced the promotion of D. Sangeeta, PhD, to the role of chief diversity officer. Sangeeta will report to CEO Mitch Barns.

“Diversity and inclusion are key to Nielsen’s success,” said Barns. “Our ability to provide clients with insights around consumer behavior worldwide is predicated on a diverse workforce that reflects the more than 100 markets in which we serve. As a leader in our organization, Sangeeta has been essential in cultivating this culture of inclusion, and I am thrilled she will be leading our diversity efforts globally.” Sangeeta spent more than eighteen years at General Electric and Battelle prior to joining Nielsen. She held a variety of leadership roles in global operations, risk management, marketing, acquisitions, business process improvement and research.

She received twenty patents for her research during her fourteen years at GE, some of which are still integrated across GE businesses.

Sangeeta received a masters degree in chemistry from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, and a PhD in materials chemistry from the University of Illinois. She previously served as the executive sponsor of the Asian American Advisory Council at Nielsen and advanced inclusion initiatives.

Sangeeta will focus on defining objectives, improving the diversity of Nielsen’s leadership team, and recruiting and retaining diverse associates at all levels. She will also lead Nielsen’s diversity council and employee resource groups, which serve to strengthen recruitment, retention, community outreach and professional development.

“I am excited to take on a role that focuses on building diverse talent reflective of the next-generation workforce at Nielsen,” says Sangeeta. “I believe diversity and inclusion are effective vehicles to help both our associates and clients realize their full potential as we continue to expand into new markets.”

Sangeeta will continue to lead Nielsen’s global measurement science organization, a post she has held since 2012.

Since joining Nielsen in 2008, Sangeeta has held a number of senior positions, including client service executive for global business services and chief business process improvement officer.

Pamela Drew is new president of Exelis Information Systems

McLean, VA – Exelis Inc has appointed Pamela Drew president of its information systems business area, based in Herndon, VA.

Drew will be responsible for leading the effort to apply Exelis’ engineering and science talent system development, networking, radio frequency communications and information systems to client projects. Her team will provide capabilities for critical missions that include defense and intelligence systems, air traffic management, space and earth science, and homeland defense.

“Pam has both extensive experience and deeply rooted customer relationships in our key markets of aviation, cybersolutions and space,” said David F. Melcher, CEO and president of Exelis Inc. “She is an exceptional leader with a proven track record in creating new business opportunities, which will enhance our competitiveness and continue to drive value for our customers.”

Before joining Exelis in 2013, Drew was senior vice president of strategic capabilities and technology at TASC, Inc, leading a team that provided systems engineering and integration, cybersecurity, financial and business analytics, and test and evaluation solutions to defense and civilian federal customers. In an earlier role at TASC, Drew led the enterprise systems business unit that served defense and civilian federal agencies.

Previously, she was sector vice president of business development for Northrop Grumman’s mission systems sector, and vice president and general manager of Boeing’s command, control, communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance solutions organization. From 1992 to 1996 she was assistant professor of computer science at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Drew received a bachelors degree in mathematics from the University of Colorado-Boulder, where she also completed her doctorate and masters degrees in computer science.

Michigan middle school students win national finals at Future City competition

Washington, DC – A team of Michigan middle school students took home the grand prize at the 2018 Future City competition held in Washington, DC this February.

Rebecca Oleskie, Paul Rosa and Justin Judd of St. John Lutheran School in Rochester, MI engineered their city of the future, Gongping, to earn top honors. They won a trip to U.S. Space Camp and $7,500 for their school’s STEM program, provided by national finals sponsor Bentley Systems.

This year’s challenge was “Tomorrow’s Transit: design a way to move people in and around your city.” The St. John students were coached by their teacher, Jon Pfund, and volunteer mentor, Dr Linda Gerhardt, an engineer with General Motors in Warren, MI. Their city’s transportation solution was based on a model the team researched and developed called FAIR: Flexible, Accessible, Integrated and Renewable. The goal of FAIR is to fit all of those components into one transportation system. Gongping means “fair” in Chinese.

Since last fall, 40,000 middle school students from 1,350 schools have been engaged in the 2013-14 Future City competition. Teams from thirty-seven middle schools, each a winner of regional competitions held throughout January, participated in the Future City national finals, which took place as part of Engineers Week.

Second place went to last year’s winning team from Valley Middle School in Oakland, NJ. The team includes students Adam Akovity, Nigel DaSilva, and Christopher Leymeister, teacher Judith Vihonski and mentor Robert Akovity of Johnson Controls in Secaucus, NJ. Valley Middle School received $5,000 for its STEM program, sponsored by the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE).

HEAR Rockwall, a home school group in Rockwall, TX, took third-place honors. Team members were Kyle Fletcher, Faith Mitchell and Nicole Bruner, teacher Linda Fletcher and mentor Mary Jo Marvin, formerly of Raytheon in Garland, TX. HEAR Rockwall received $2,000 for its technology program, sponsored by IEEE-USA.

The Future City Competition is a program of DiscoverE, a consortium of professional and technical societies and major U.S. corporations. Major funding for the national finals comes from Bechtel Corporation, Bentley Systems, and the Shell Oil Company.

DiscoverE, formerly eWeek, works to sustain and grow a dynamic engineering profession. The organization supports engineering outreach, education, and celebration through a network of thousands of volunteers in its partner coalition of more than 100 professional societies, major corporations and government agencies.

For more information, visit www.discovere.org.

Gwendolyn Boyd welcomed as new president of Alabama State University

Montgomery, AL – Dr Gwendolyn Boyd became the first female president in the 146-year history of Alabama State University when she took office in February.

“We are proud to have selected an accomplished, capable, nationally recognized leader with the skills and experience to move Alabama State University forward,” said ASU board of trustees chairman Elton Dean. “Dr Boyd is the embodiment of what is great about ASU. As an ASU graduate, she will serve as a daily reminder to our students that ASU is preparing them to impact the world. She has the vision and drive to lead ASU to 2020 and beyond.”

Before Alabama State, Boyd was an engineer and executive assistant to the Applied Physics Laboratory chief of staff at Johns Hopkins University (Laurel, MD), where she had worked for thirty-three years.

Boyd is a former Miss Alabama State University and an initiate of ASU’s Beta Eta chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority. She earned a BS in mathematics from ASU and became the first African American woman to earn a masters degree in mechanical engineering from Yale University. She also holds a doctoral degree in ministry from Howard University.

She has been national president of Delta Sigma Theta, chaired the Johns Hopkins diversity leadership council, and was appointed by President Obama to serve on the Barry Goldwater Foundation for Excellence in Education.

Microsoft employees launch new college scholarship for students with disabilities

Redmond, WA – Microsoft employees have created a new scholarship that will encourage more high school seniors living with a disability to enroll in college, realize the impact technology can have on the world, and explore careers in technology.

The Microsoft DisAbility Scholarship is a grassroots effort begun by the company’s internal cross-disability employee resource group. Each year, a panel of Microsoft volunteers will select high school seniors with visual, hearing, cognitive, mobility or speech disabilities to receive individual $5,000 scholarships for study at four-year or two-year universities, colleges or technical colleges.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent American Community Survey, students with disabilities drop off the educational track after high school at an alarming rate. In Washington State, the percentage of adults without a disability holding a bachelors degree or higher is more than twice that of those with a disability, 31.2 percent compared to 12.5 percent. The scholarship fund also hopes to reduce the high rates of unemployment among adults with disabilities by supporting higher education goals.

The scholarships are designed to encourage students to pursue studies and careers in technology. Scholarship recipients will major in engineering, computer science, computer information systems, legal or business areas.

In the coming years, the cross disability employee resource group also hopes scholarship recipients will spend time at Microsoft to learn about potential careers at the company and in technology.

For additional information, contact the Microsoft DisAbility Fund at disschol@microsoft.com.

BDPA New Jersey hosts panel discussion

Newark, NJ – Black Data Processing Associates (BDPA) New Jersey hosted a panel discussion in February focused on “Diversity in the Obama Era: Are minorities included or still being left out?”

The discussion was held at Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. Panelists included Sharon Bussey, managing director of BTII Institute (Newark, NJ); John Castillo, managing director at Accenture (New York, NY); Reginald Johnson, president of Metuchen-Edison NAACP (Edison, NJ); David Martinez, executive VP of ALPFA NJ Chapter (Newark, NJ) and an AVP at BNY Mellon; LisaMarie Moore, PhD candidate at Rutgers Biomedical Health Sciences/New Jersey Medical School (Newark); and Beverly Place, a certified Six Sigma black belt who works at Quest Diagnostics (Madison, NJ).

BDPA New Jersey hosts several events throughout the year including technology events, quarterly program meetings, tech meetups and monthly webinars. For a complete list of opportunities and calendar of upcoming events, including the eleventh annual Families in Technology Day on May 31 at NJIT (Newark) and High School Computer Camp training sessions at Bloomfield College (Bloomfield, NJ), visit www.bdpanewjersey.org.


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