“Women may be well represented in high school AP science and math classes, but they’re not choosing to go into engineering. If they had more awareness of what a great career engineering can be and the confidence to pursue engineering, I think there would be a lot more women in STEM careers.” — Beth Keser
A calculator. That’s my earliest memory of using technology. I got my first, a solar-powered one from Texas Instruments, when I was in the fifth grade. I still have it. It was replaced by an HP calculator when I was a freshman in college. I still have that one, too, but I use the one on my smartphone now.
When I was in high school, I was talented at all subjects and I participated in extracurricular activities that were both math- and science-related, but I was also a member of different non-STEM groups and participated in sports. I grew up in Rochester, New York, which was an engineering town. Xerox and Kodak were prominent in Rochester during my childhood and IBM was also in upstate NY. On top of that, all of my friends’ dads were engineers. They had great careers AND were always home by dinner. The influence of my environment, STEM achievements, and desire for a good career is why I chose to study engineering.
But what kind of engineer? As a freshmen, I took introductory engineering classes including two electrical engineering classes, two computer science classes, and one materials science class. I really loved the materials science class the best, so that is what I chose to study. I went on to get my Ph. D., focusing on polymers, and then headed to Motorola where I worked in advanced electronic packaging R&D, a field I’m still in today at Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.
For those interested in pursuing a career in STEM, I think having confidence is incredibly important. Women may be well represented in high school AP science and math classes, but they’re not choosing to go into engineering. If they had more awareness of what a great career engineering can be and the confidence to pursue engineering, I think there would be a lot more women in STEM careers.
Of course, they also need role models and to see women working in the field. I have two young daughters, and whenever possible, I demonstrate engineering challenges, discuss working for Qualcomm and involve them in events on campus.
Beth Keser, Ph.D., has over 18 years of experience in the semiconductor packaging industry. She has a B.S. from Cornell University in Materials Science and Engineering and a Ph.D. from University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign in the same. She has co-invented 13 patents, and has 10 patents pending, and over 40 publications in the industry. Beth leads the Fan-Out and Fan-In Wafer Level Packaging Technology Development and NPI Group at Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.