Ambika - Biotech Engineer at Bikanta Labs

  1. What do you do for work?
  2. I work at the intersection of medicine and engineering to develop nanodiamonds that can help researchers and doctors study and find diseases such as cancer at the molecular level.

  3. What did you study in college?
  4. I studied Biomedical Engineering with a minor in Economics for my undergrad at Georgia Tech. I then went to graduate school at Oxford University for a PhD in Engineering Science focused specifically on Nanomedicine.

  5. What is your favorite part of your job?
  6. Do I have to pick one? I love many aspects of what I do - the scientific analysis/aha moments, the translation of it to benefit society, the challenges we work through, the meeting and working with such brilliant minds. I guess the what I love the most is how fulfilling our work is to me. Challenging problems that we tackle to move forward science and help patients.

  7. What inspired you to pursue this field?
  8. It is hard for me to pinpoint the exact moment I knew what I wanted to do. I think it has been an evolving process but my love for science and math was always a constant. Perhaps one of my crystallizing moments was during my first biomedical engineering class at Georgia Tech. As naive freshman, we were split into small teams and given a real BME problem and told go figure out in a few weeks. No teachers, just us, the library, and the internet. I remember one was an issue of how to deal with the carcasses of mad cow diseased cows. We learned about how the disease was caused by prions which turns out can survive almost anything and are very infectious. Many hours of research and brainstorming later we developed an idea of an incinerator with specifications particular for the mad cows. I loved how we learned about a complex and very clever disease and then engineered a solution to tackle it. It drew in every area of science and required our creative juices to flow. I was pretty much hooked by the field after that. I began focusing in on nanomedicine during undergrad research and then more completely at the beginning of my PhD.

  9. What is your favorite childhood toy?
  10. I liked building things and doing arts and crafts. One of my earliest memories is of our first computer and the various games on it - Bouncing Babies and Tetris.

Karen - Solar Engineer, Retired

  1. What did you do for work?
  2. For most of my career I worked in the solar electric industry developing new materials and processes for making the semiconductor materials used to turn sunlight into electricity. In the R&D lab I designed and built prototype processing equipment, ran experiments to investigate new materials and even oversaw the design and construction of a sophisticated materials growth lab. In manufacturing environments I oversaw the process control and equipment upgrades for large single crystal and multi-crystalline silicon ingot. I liked knowing how all the pieces of the equipment fit together and what was happening on an atomic level as the molten silicon solidified into a crystal.

    I am currently working on solutions to the Climate Change challenge as a group leader with Citizen’s Climate Lobby. We are advocating for a price on Carbon at the federal level with a proposed revenue neutral upstream fee on carbon that is 100% refunded to American households in the form of a monthly dividend.

  3. What did you study in college?
  4. I studied Material Science and Engineering at Cornell University. At the time, Material Science was still a relatively new major and my course work included all different types of materials. I studied everything from metals to plastics and glass to semiconductors. My favorite class was crystal structure. I think I liked the 3 dimensional nature of understanding how the atoms were arranged in crystals.

  5. What was your favorite part of the job?
  6. My favorite part of all of my engineering work has been designing an experiment that can answer a question and then trying to run the experiment in a controlled manner so that the answer is useful. This is hard when studying materials because so many features of the world around us affect the material. Is it raining today? Is the machine running 1 degree hotter? Was the person loading the machine having a bad day? Seriously. It all matters.

  7. What inspired you to pursue this field?
  8. I was the first person in my family to go to college. I really like math and science, but I think it was also very important that my dad had me building things and working on cars at a young age. I also think that camping and outdoor skills learned in scouts helped give me the confidence to charge ahead into unfamiliar territory.

    Mostly, I think that a single person convinced me that I was going to be an engineer. He was a friend of our family and recently immigrated from India. He just kept telling me “Karen, you have to study engineering. You will be a great engineer.” Without his encouragement I don’t honestly know if I would have done it.

  9. What’s your favorite childhood toy?
  10. Games. More than anything I loved playing cards and board games. I had a Battleship game that I loved and would always want to play cards with the adults. I could play for hours and hours. I loved being outside too, playing in the creek or riding my bike around the neighborhood. And I had my dolls. My favorite doll was one that would grow hair when you pushed her belly button and then you turned a crank on her back to make it short again.

Christine - Architect at Gensler

  1. What does your typical day at work look like?
  2. A typical day consists of lots of interaction with my team (architects, interior designers and administrative staff) as well as my clients. In these meetings, we are usually discussing our design solutions.

  3. What is your favorite part of your job?
  4. I love working with my team to come up with creative solutions that make our clients happy! At the beginning of my career, I mainly worked on drawings by myself or as part of a bigger team. Now, I am not an individual contributor but rather a facilitator. I love seeing the team work together to produce awesome results. Because I still love to draw, I continue to sketch in my sketchbook just for fun. It makes me feel connected to architecture!

  5. What inspired you to pursue this field?
  6. When I was 10 years old, my family moved from Kansas to California. My parents bought a house that my mom never really liked. So, every Sunday, she would take me along with her to look at open houses. That just sparked my imagination, so I started designing houses in a sketchbook. That was in the 70s and my parents are still living in the same house. I have helped them remodel though!

  7. What is your favorite childhood toy?
  8. I hate to say it but it was Barbie! It was not for the dolls, though. It was for the houses that I was able to create. I would spend hours designing their houses using all types of found objects, blocks and Barbie items. After I finished, I would never play with the dolls, but would start over designing another house. I guess this was the other way in which I became interested in Architecture.

Beth - Stanford PhD Student, Rocket Propulsion

  1. What does your typical day at work look like?
  2. I am a PhD student completing an experimental PhD looking at a particular type of rocket propulsion. I typically start my day at a local cafe with a latte and a textbook or research paper- I save my toughest mental tasks for that cup of coffee. After this I will normally be in lab. If I am leading up to a test campaign then I will usually be very busy doing "hand-on" tasks, such as making parts in the machine shop, soldering electronics, making our rocket fuel grains, assembling equipment or researching/designing new components. I also spend time each day writing code to analyze data or predict results. During a test campaign, when we are hot-firing our rockets, I spend a lot of time thinking through every scenario that could go wrong in order to try to reduce risk and increase my chances of being able to respond quickly to any problems that might arise.

  3. What is your favorite part of your job?
  4. I love the fact that my days are very varied and pretty exciting, I get to work on theory and get my hands dirty... often VERY dirty. Running a hot-fire test always gets my adrenaline pumping. Test campaigns can be quite stressful but are more than compensated for by that feeling of pure joy/relief that I get when the rocket motor performs as I predicted.

  5. What inspired you to pursue this field?
  6. I have loved space exploration since I was a child. I grew up in a small town in Australia with an amazing view of the stars. At some point my family went to hear one of the Apollo astronauts talk in a nearby town and soon thereafter I decided that I wanted to be an astronaut.

  7. What is your favorite childhood toy?
  8. As a child I loved playing with lego. I did not have many, if any, complete sets but I inherited a big tub of my older brothers' lego which I put to good use. I loved creating new towns, cars and boats. I would spend hours building new worlds and then days/weeks at a time playing with them and developing a story around them.

Courtney - Physician Assistant

  1. What do you do for work?
  2. I am a Physician Assistant, freshly graduated and board certified. This is a career that developed out of necessity to alleviate some of the patient load on physicians. Many, many people need access to health care, physicians do great work, and the goal of the physician assistant career path is to provide support as dependent providers and work with physicians to care for patients in nearly all the same ways doctors do. PAs work in all care settings whether it be outpatient clinic, surgical, inpatient, the emergency room, or subspecialties. PAs are providing care and MD support all over the medical profession. I just completed my graduate program and clinical training, so I have not yet begun my practice. However, I have accepted a position working on the Stanford Trauma & Acute Care Surgery Service. I will helping to rapidly identify level of injury for incoming patients and managing their in-hospital healing process. In addition, as a level one trauma center we are involved in the community with injury prevention programs for commonly encountered injuries in our specific population.

  3. What did you study in college?
  4. As an undergraduate I studied Biology and Health Science, with an emphasis in Public Health Education. Then after additional prerequisite coursework and clinical experience, I completed a Physician Assistant program at Stanford with a Masters of Medical Science.

  5. What is your favorite part of the job?
  6. The human body, in its form and function, is infinitely fascinating to me. I marvel both at the complexity of physiological processes which coalesce to enable a healthy body to work correctly, and at the resilience of the healing process to resolve pathologic states. In my job, in Trauma care, I get to literally help put people back together and provide support as these wonderful patients fight their way back from devastating injuries. In the video I am somewhat depicted as a laboratory researcher. That is not entirely accurate, however I do experience, on a daily basis, the physiological processes learned in a lab setting that are demonstrated in real patients. I work in the space where science meets the miracle of the human experience, and I cannot imagine any better place to be.

  7. What inspired you to pursue this field?
  8. I first encountered a physician assistant in my undergraduate education during an internship in the hospital. This PA supported the surgeon in major ways to complete an open heart surgery and then was entrusted to go and update the family on the status of the patient. I thought, my goodness, what a special responsibility. To be involved in a crucial role in the surgery and then go form a connection with the family as an everlasting part of that patient's health story. All medical professionals have that honor and responsibility, and it is a truly humbling experience.

  9. What’s your favorite childhood toy?
  10. I used to play with non-toy items more than anything... We would slide down the stairs on a sleeping bag, make forts out of couch cushions, and I distinctly remember playing with the large boxes that electronics would come in, on multiple occasions. I had exactly 2 stuffed animals and they were huge (in the eyes of a 5 year old): a gorilla and a koala bear. After checking with my mom I found out that: The single toy played with the most was a set of Lincoln logs that my mom had as a child. I do remember being fascinated by them, not exactly sure why, you're actually very limited in what you can build, but I just thought it was fun to stack them up and then take them apart. I think I would have loved the Roominate toys!

Shannon - Civil Engineer, Drill Tech Drilling and Shoring

  1. What do you do for work?
  2. I am a project engineer for a geotechnical construction company that does design/build projects. Specifically, I run calculations, draw plans, seek design approval, provide quality control and manage the construction process for deep foundations, retaining structures, and temporary & permanent shoring systems.

  3. What did you study in college?
  4. Civil Engineering.

  5. What is your favorite part of your job?
  6. I enjoy walking the job site with the foreman when a project is in full production. It is refreshing to get out of the office, connect with the crews, and see a design get built.

  7. What inspired you to pursue this field?
  8. I have always been inspired by women who successfully break into male dominated fields and my ability to excel in math and science at a young age provided me with the confidence to pursue a career in civil engineering. I am now proud to say I am the first female engineer my company has hired.

  9. What is your favorite childhood toy?
  10. My Littlest Pet Shop and K’NEX.

Susha - Head of School Sales and Operations at CodeHS

  1. What do you do for work?
  2. I work at an online education start-up company, CodeHS, that helps high schools teach computer science. Our goal is to make computer science engaging and accessible to students — including those who are typically underrepresented in STEM fields, like women and minorities. I was the first hire at the company in 2013 and we have since grown to a team of 13!

    My job is to work with educators and school leaders to build computer science programs using CodeHS. I spend a lot of time communicating with people who may or may not have a background in computer science, but who want to figure out how to provide an awesome, opportunity-filled 21st century educational experience to their students. It involves a lot of listening, advising, and helping teachers start to teach computer science.

    As part of a small company that is constantly evolving, my job also entails defining the ways that we do things and want to do things as we grow. Could we be more efficient when it comes to meeting with each other or helping our teachers/students? What can we change to respond to feedback from our users? How can we create processes around project management, sales, customer success, and fulfillment that are repeatable and scalable as we grow? These are all things that I get to think about in my job!

  3. What did you study in college?
  4. I studied Public Policy. But I was fortunate to take classes in economics, philosophy, political science, math, computer science, studio art, foreign languages, and more throughout my undergrad years. The liberal arts education is a truly incredible way to get to know humanity and society, past and present, and to figure out which slice of that you might be interested in pursuing further.

  5. What is your favorite part of the job?
  6. I love working on new projects! Being part of a small team means that everyone wears a lot of hats and you often have to jump into and complete a task that you have no experience doing previously. The constant need to get things done (and the fact that if you don’t do it, no one else will) makes every day a learning experience; I find it super motivating and exciting (if sometimes a little scary, too).

  7. What inspired you to pursue this field?
  8. For my senior year cap stone project I researched online education in k-12 schools in California and became incredibly inspired and excited about the opportunity for online education to democratize education access. Leaving college, I wanted to work in the education technology field and I came across CodeHS, which is doing wonderful things to empower young students with an education that they can help lead them to unbounded college and career opportunities.

  9. What’s your favorite childhood toy?
  10. I was an arts and crafts person. I loved play dough. I loved pet rocks. I loved drawing and doodling. Not much has changed.... I still love all of these things!

Justine - Software Engineer at DocSend

  1. What do you do for work?
  2. I am a software engineer at DocSend, a document analytics startup founded by three Stanford CS alumni. We are trying to make documents a more effective communication tool by telling you what happens to them after you send them out. I spend my days designing and building features for our web application.

  3. What did you study in college?
  4. Computer Science at Stanford (2011)

  5. What is your favorite part of the job?
  6. I like knowing that the things I am building are having a positive impact on someone else’s life. It’s really cool creating a product that thousands of people use every day.

  7. What inspired you to pursue this field?
  8. I’ve always loved building things, and I’ve always been more interested in the math and science classes at school. I didn’t know anything about Computer Science before going to Stanford, so it took me a while to settle on this major. The intro Computer Science class at Stanford was the first class I took where I had fun doing all of the homework assignments. It was really cool seeing the work I was doing turn into actual programs on the computer. It was the first class I took where I felt like I was really creating something useful, so I decided that this was what I wanted to be doing.

  9. What’s your favorite childhood toy?
  10. I loved Legos and K’nex. I had the Lego MindStorm robot that you could program with simple commands to make it run around the room or use its sensors to follow set paths. That was a lot of fun.

Michelle - Stanford Student, Computer Science

  1. What is your favorite class?
  2. My favorite class that I've taken at Stanford is called "How to Learn Math." It was a small seminar on math education in the US, and how we can improve it. It was great to discuss math experiences with a diverse group of students and to explore ways we can create better math experiences for more students.

  3. What do you plan to major in?
  4. At the moment, I'm planning on majoring in Computer Science and minoring in African & African American Studies.

  5. What is your dream job?
  6. At the moment, my dream job is to be a teacher and empower my students academically and emotionally. Or be on SNL. That would be so much fun.

  7. What's your favorite childhood toy?
  8. I was really into Legos. I still have a lion that I built out of Legos in my room at home.

Lauren - Menlo School Student + Roominate Intern!

  1. What is your favorite class?
  2. My favorite class is computer science because it’s really interesting for me to learn everything from data structures to sorting algorithms. I also like computer science because programming has so many applications in the real world and I think it’s valuable to understand how successful products and services utilize programming to succeed.

  3. What is your dream job?
  4. My career aspiration is to become a technology entrepreneur with the goal of solving important problems that will benefit others.

  5. What's your favorite childhood toy?
  6. My favorite toy is playing with legos. When I was younger I participated in a robotics competition called First Lego League (FLL) and my team used lego pieces to construct a robot. My childhood toy sparked my interest in robotics, engineering, and computer science.

Jessica - Menlo School Student

  1. What is your favorite class?
  2. My favorite class is a tie between Anatomy and Advanced Biology. They are both so relevant because they are about the human body and nature, which I think is what makes it so interesting for me.

  3. What is your dream job?
  4. When I grow up I want to be a forensic scientist, specifically working with DNA collection and analysis.

  5. What's your favorite childhood toy?
  6. My favorite childhood toy were legos because I could build things from scratch and I got to choose what I wanted to build!