Lisa Garrett: Opportunity abounds
Lisa Garrett (née Desimone) likes a challenge. As she consulted with her high school teachers about possible career paths, she heard that electrical engineering had the most math. Challenge accepted.
"You’ll hear the word 'opportunity' a lot, and that almost always means more work. But more work often means growth, so don’t be afraid of it," Garrett told the young women of the SEAS Summer Immersion Program. Garrett turned her electrical engineering education into a career in product quality management.
"Your base learning is so, so important. That's the way you think and the way you solve problems," she said. Those skills can be used a multitude of ways in the engineering and computer science fields. "There's a lot of flexibility to engineering and technology careers, so keep your eyes and ears open and look for opportunity."
Opportunity is everywhere, Garrett told the students, because the need for engineers and computer scientists is everywhere. To illustrate, she brought out a set of products she worked with at Phillips Healthcare - Sonicare toothbrushes and a Clarisonic facial brush. Both consumer devices use the same technology.
"This is a nice integrated system," she said, pointing out the mechanical and electrical engineering elements of the products. "Because the toothbrush is meant to go inside your body - in your mouth - it's a medical device, so more safety procedures must be followed. These all must go through rigorous testing. A lot of engineering went into these devices!"
A STEM education demands a great deal of effort, she reminded the students, but she also reminded them to have fun.
"There were so many times that I had to say no to my friends because I had so much work that needed to be done. But I did make time for fun. We played volleyball and softball as engineering intramural teams." she said. With some creativity, an engineering or computer science student can try projects that are fun and also apply what's taught in class. That's certainly a challenge worth accepting.