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9 notable female engineers and their contributions

9 notable female engineers and their contributions

9 notable female engineers and their contributions

Have you ever thought of famous engineers?

Also, if you were asked to name a famous female engineer off the top of your head, could you do it?  Probably not.

Engineering traditionally has been and is still thought of as a largely male-dominated industry. However, with the growing demand of the profession, there are many powerful female engineers today who are leading large multinational corporations creating and introducing innovative and cutting-edge tech to the world.

Here is a list of a few female engineers who are role-models for women with a future in Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM), leading technology powerhouses on the back of an engineering qualification and turning the tide in the field of engineering.

Meredith Westafer

Senior Industrial Engineer – Tesla.

A Bachelor of Science in Industrial and & Management system engineering and a Master of Science in Engineering management, Meredith is a senior industrial engineer at Tesla who manages the design and layout of the company’s Gigafactory, which will be the world’s largest factory by footprint.

The factory manufactures the essential lithium-ion batteries that run Tesla vehicles. She developed the models that gauged the factory space required and the supply chain of the factory. She designed an automated material delivery system that uses a fleet of autonomous mobile robots to deliver goods to and from the production line.


Noël Mojgan Bakhtian,

Director of the Center for Advanced Energy Studies – Idaho National Laboratory 

She joined the office for international affairs, managing projects with China, Israel, Brazil, the UAE and the EU that involved water and energy policy.

Bakhtian has had leadership roles on several boards throughout her career primarily focusing on the development of innovative energy systems, energy-water nexus, advanced manufacturing, nuclear energy and cybersecurity.

With a M. Phil in Mechanical engineering and a PhD in Aeronautics and Astronautics, she undertakes projects that tackle the energy crises and focus on building alternatives to non-renewable energy sources.


Caitlin Kalinowski

Director, Hardware – Oculus


Caitlin Kalinowski is the head of hardware at Oculus, the division of Facebook’s virtual reality headset, the Oculus Rift.

Kalinowski has spearheaded the design team of the Oculus Rift, Touch and Gear VR and in charge with solving critical engineering and design challenges, like incorporating large technologies into a small headset.

A Bachelor of Science holder in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University, Caitlin has also worked and led design teams in OQO, Apple and heads the advisory board of wogrammer, an outreach project focused on women engineers.


Justyna Zander

Autonomous Vehicles simulation architect – NVIDIA

Justyna Zander is a senior automotive product manager at NVIDIA, one of the leading companies building the fundamental technologies for self-driving cars.

She has been working on self-driving cars for more than a decade and is an expert in deep learning, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.

She leads diverse teams managing the wide range of technologies used in self-driving cars: hardware, sensors, computer vision, machine learning training and more.

A PhD holder in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, she holds six patents and has won the Society of Women Engineers Emerging Leaders Award in 2017.


 Sophia Velastegui,

General manager of Microsoft’s AI product unit

 With a master’s in mechanical engineering, Sophia has portrayed her skills and expertise in tech giants like Apple, Google and currently leading the charge for Microsoft’s Artificial Intelligence unit.

She is currently managing Microsoft’s product development and innovation for AI technologies and bringing Microsoft AI to the daily apps like MS Office, Bing and more.

An integral member of the Global Future Council on Production, she provides thought leadership in production, bringing a diverse lens for innovative solutions on emerging technology and products, consumer, and enterprises.


Reshma Shetty,

Co-founder, Ginkgo Bioworks

 Reshma Shetty is a co-founder and COO of Ginkgo Bioworks, a cutting-edge biotech startup that designs synthetic DNA. She founded Ginkgo after getting a PhD in biological engineering from MIT.

The company is creating inroads in the world of biotechnology and has even gotten the attention of Bill Gates, whose asset management fund invested in a $275 million valuing the company at $1.4 billion.

Shetty has been one of the foremost minds in the industry, helping to launch the first international conference in the field of synthetic biology in 2008.


Priya Balasubramanian

Vice President Operations – Apple

Priya Balasubramanian is the vice president of Apple’s iPhone operations and manages Apple’s massive supply chain for manufacturing iPhones. She also supervises quality and repair operations for the iPhone and its core components.

She has been with Apple since 2001, working her way up from a behind-the-scenes engineer to the VP post.

In 2017, she was awarded an honorary Doctor of Engineering from Michigan State University, where she earned her MBA in supply chain management in 2001.

Ayanna Howard

Founder and CTO – Zyrobotics

A Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering and a PhD holder in Electrical Engineering, Robotics and Computer Science. Ayanna founded Zyrobotics in 2013, an award-winning educational technology company that makes STEM learning accessible to all children worldwide.

A Professor of    Robotics and Engineering in Georgia Institute of Technology for 14 years and the Director of the Human-Automation Systems Lab. Her lab focuses on research that addresses issues in designing intelligent machines that interact with and learn from humans and the surrounding environment.

Gwynne Shotwell

COO – SpaceX

She is the President and Chief Operating Officer at SpaceX, an American space transportation company, where she is responsible for day-to-day operations and company growth. She is listed as the 59th most powerful woman by Forbes.

Shotwell originally planned to work in the automotive industry and was enrolled in Chrysler Corporation’s management training program but desired a more technical and hands-on engineering role.

Her qualifications in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mathematics allowed her to take up roles in military research where she worked in thermal analysis including conceptual small spacecraft design, infrared signature target modeling, space shuttle integration and reentry vehicle operational risks

Under her leadership, SpaceX was the first private company to send a satellite into geostationary orbit. Setting new standards and achieving unique milestones, Gwynne is a role-model to all aspiring female engineers.

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This blog is also listed on EdArabia, follow the link below: https://www.edarabia.com/notable-female-engineers-contributions/


Waqas Yamin is a marketing executive for UK College of Business and Computing (UKCBC) Dubai, creating content for the website, blogs and other creative media. He contributes with educational and motivational content for the UKCBC newsletter and communications with all stakeholders. He enjoys research and pitches in with engaging, informative content that highlight the importance of education and success stories that inspire and motivate.

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