Setting a Deliberate Path to Principal Engineer

Establishing a technical career path

I ran into Cathy Spence (@cw_spence) at the Intel IT Leader’s Summit in San Jose. She mentioned she had just found out she was promoted to Professional Engineer. I realized I didn’t know much about the process or what that really means, so I interviewed her recently after everything was announced. Here’s our conversation.

Tell me about what you do at Intel.

I have two jobs.  First, I’m the Hosting Portfolio enterprise architect and my domain expertise is in Cloud Computing.  One area where I go deep is in Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) where I am the technical domain owner and have overseen the path to production. In short, I provide direction on how Intel IT can use the cloud to better run Intel’s business. Continue reading

Chasing Storms and a STEM Degree

Tornado

I went to Chicago recently to visit family and had some time to catch up with my niece Stephanie Gizzi. She is a senior at Northern Illinois University.  I interviewed her to see what it’s like for young women pursuing a STEM degree these days. Here is our conversation.

Stephanie, tell me about the degree program you are in.

I’m getting a Bachelor of Science in Meteorology – it’s an engineering-based science degree. I’m done with all of my calculus and physics, so I’m taking mostly meteorology courses now. 

I am getting my GIS (Geographic Information Systems) certificate to differentiate myself from other meteorologists.  I am using ArcMap to analyze geospatial data. I can compare all kinds of historic trends to today’s data and graph it. It’s really practical in business for analyzing growth zones for development, visualize population density trends and things like that. For example, Walgreen’s uses it to plan where to open retail stores. 

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STEM Girls: If You Can’t See It, You Can’t Be It”

role model in letterpress type

I went to the WITI (Women in Technology International) Summit in June. Every speaker talked about STEM education – getting more of our kids to be proficient in STEM is vital for our future. Then I watched a Women of Google event and, I have to say, I’ve have had their mantra “If you can’t see it, you can’t be it” stuck in my head for the past few months. I have a middle school age daughter. I want to make sure she at least understands the possibilities and opportunities that exist in science, technology, engineering and math careers, as she gets her education. I want her to have role models – starting now, before it’s too late.

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Attention Parents: Baking a Cake is Engineering

swimming-pigs-chocolate-kit-kat-cake

When I was a 12-year-old girl, I loved baking cookies. It was fun. I would have a friend over on a Saturday afternoon; we would bake and then snack on the cookies. I didn’t know at the time, but I discovered recently, as a mom and engineer, that baking a cake has a lot of skills in common with basic engineering projects.

This past weekend my daughter had one of her friends over. They both love to bake and decorate cupcakes, so I expected they’d be in my kitchen creating something. I didn’t know they were going to engineer such an unusual product – a swimming pigs cake!

Here are some of the engineering skills the two girls used over the course of the afternoon.

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