Category Archives: Women Engineers

Georgakoudi elected to senior member of SPIE

Irene Georgakoudi, associate professor of biomedical engineering, has been elected to the grade of Senior Member of SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics.

SPIE Senior Members are members of distinction who are honored for their professional experience, their active involvement with the optics community and SPIE, and significant performance that sets them apart from their peers.

Panetta speaks on women in engineering

Karen Panetta, professor of electrical and computer engineering and associate dean of graduate education, was interviewed by CNNMoney about how female engineers can navigate the pay gap and a predominantly male culture.

Full article: Women with engineering and computer science degrees have their pick of jobs

Tufts in Talloires: An uplifting journey’s end

This summer, two students from the Bridge to Engineering Success at Tufts (BEST) program blogged their experiences from Tufts in Talloires, a six-week summer program that offers students a dynamic group of courses taught by Tufts faculty in Talloires, France. In addition to coursework, a wide variety of optional outdoor activities, weekly hikes into the Alps, field trips, and organized events offer each student the opportunity to explore the unique Haute-Savoie region of France. 

By Michelle Chan

Michelle and Hernan at the base of the mountain, ready to paraglide.

Michelle and Hernan, ready to paraglide.

From the edge of the mountain, the entirety of Lake Annecy stretched before me. I collected all the trust I had in my body for the instructor strapped behind me, to obey his shout, “Don’t sit! Run! Keep running!” So I ran right off the mountain. The ground fell away beneath my feet, or maybe my body was floating. Either one could be correct depending on the reference frame, but neither mattered because I was flying. My eyes followed the cords attached to the harness on my body, up, up, up, to see only a piece of fabric holding me afloat in a vast sky. I started screaming. There was no fear left in me, only exhilaration at life’s possibilities.

In the sky, I located Hernan, my fellow BESTie, soaring alongside me. Exactly a year ago, we were arriving at Tufts for BEST summer session, barely getting to know each other. Just like we entered college together, we supported each other throughout our fall and spring semesters. We traveled to Turkey and Germany together before arriving in France. Just last week, we went paragliding. As I flew higher, breaking into a cloud, I realized that I never would have found so much success and fulfillment without the support of BEST and my amazing community.

France has been a new experience that was made better by friends like Hernan sticking up for each other through challenges, whether or not they were unique to being in a foreign country. After Talloires, when Hernan and I return back to Tufts ground, I want to continue the practice of lifting up others in all contexts of life, even those beyond engineering. We are more than just our professions, but also bodies, minds, and souls that need acknowledgement to reach our highest capabilities.

Michelle Chan is a rising sophomore from Eugene, Oregon, majoring in computer engineering.

Tufts in Talloires: Looking closely

This summer, two students from the Bridge to Engineering Success at Tufts (BEST) program are blogging their experiences from Tufts in Talloires, a six-week summer program that offers students a dynamic group of courses taught by Tufts faculty in Talloires, France. In addition to coursework, a wide variety of optional outdoor activities, weekly hikes into the Alps, field trips, and organized events offer each student the opportunity to explore the unique Haute-Savoie region of France. 

By Michelle Chan

The view from Michelle's bus stop to Talloires. Napoleon's Hat is visible in the top right.

The view from Michelle’s bus stop to Talloires. Napoleon’s Hat is visible in the top right.

Even in week five of the program, friends here still ask me, “Where is Veyrier-du-Lac?” Talloires is a village and Annecy is a small city. The bus route spans eight nauseatingly bumpy miles between the two, while Veyrier-du-Lac, my home, marks roughly a midpoint. Even though the bus passes Veyrier every day, you might miss it if you blink. Here, everything seems tiny.

Yet small is hardly synonymous with dull. Even though I walked through most of the streets already, each scene is full of rich details worthy of notice. By the lake, glistening water laps the banks of the shore from gravitational pulls. Turning around, a little mountain peak hovers over houses. Locals call it “Napoleon’s Hat,” perhaps because of its triangular shape.

Walking around, plants grow everywhere. Satisfyingly, I can identify some species that were learned on weekly Monday field trips in my Flowers of the Alps class. Many of them look similar at first sight, but spending a few more seconds in observation distinguishes details that set the species apart.

In case I want to look even closer, I can use the loupe hanging on a string around my neck to magnify a flower. The tiny parts reveal information that I typically overlook. The ovary, once pollinated, begins growing into what we may recognize to be fruit. Through the lens, I see fruit so unripe that, well, they aren’t even considered fruit yet.

To be honest, I barely use the loupe on my walks, but I also rarely take it off. Maybe I keep it on when I go to bed for efficiency’s sake, so that I have it when I need it. Or maybe I wear it as a constant reminder to find fascination with the details of my everyday surroundings.

Michelle Chan is a rising sophomore from Eugene, Oregon, majoring in computer engineering.

Tufts in Talloires: A word of support offered by watermelon and ice cream

This summer, two students from the Bridge to Engineering Success at Tufts (BEST) program are blogging their experiences from Tufts in Talloires, a six-week summer program that offers students a dynamic group of courses taught by Tufts faculty in Talloires, France. In addition to coursework, a wide variety of optional outdoor activities, weekly hikes into the Alps, field trips, and organized events offer each student the opportunity to explore the unique Haute-Savoie region of France. 

By Michelle Chan

BEST4_MichelleAbout once a week, a certain ice cream shop in Annecy has been emptying out my wallet, five euros at a time, in exchange for three scoops of cold bliss. I have yet to try all 58 flavors, but my favorite one so far is lychee. It tastes almost like biting into the white flesh of the fruit itself.

Mentally, I keep a full list of justifications for this new spending habit, but the most satisfying one is that my mom wants me to treat myself well while I’m in France. Remembering times of greater financial difficulty, every unnecessary purchase was accompanied by guilt. Now, each bite of ice cream is a personal victory for allowing myself a simple luxury. Since college, I am thankful that my worries revolve around academics more than my basic needs.

Currently, I feel nervous about starting my first paper in college for my Global Health Crises class. My entire freshman year, I somehow managed to avoid writing a single paper. The majority of my work consisted of projects and problem sets, to which I became fairly accustomed. However, I always believed writing to be an important skill for engineers to express ourselves. The material in this class reinforces this belief through assigned readings of epidemiological studies. Words communicate methods and results, laying groundwork for the contribution of others. By writing this ten-pager, I hope to improve my ability to produce words that achieve a purpose.

I also want to share one peculiar custom I learned from my host family. We get to make a wish for eating our first watermelon of the season. Even from France, my thoughts keep returning to the queer people of color who were victims in the Orlando shooting this weekend.  For all those affected, I wish they find healing and peace.

Michelle Chan is a rising sophomore from Eugene, Oregon, majoring in computer engineering.

Tufts in Talloires: A Sunday morning

This summer, two students from the Bridge to Engineering Success at Tufts (BEST) program are blogging their experiences from Tufts in Talloires, a six-week summer program that offers students a dynamic group of courses taught by Tufts faculty in Talloires, France. In addition to coursework, a wide variety of optional outdoor activities, weekly hikes into the Alps, field trips, and organized events offer each student the opportunity to explore the unique Haute-Savoie region of France. 

By Michelle Chan

Michelle blog - lunch

A quiet Sunday lunch (and studying) in Talloires

For the third consecutive Sunday morning, I woke up in the same bed. I assessed the kitchen, deciding to grill mini open-faced peanut butter and peach baguette sandwiches for breakfast. Of course, I also made coffee. I read the news. I washed the dishes and played an hour or two of piano. And I felt that nothing was out of the ordinary.

Wait. Seriously? Yeah, I guess it happened. Somehow, I found a sense of normalcy.

At the beginning of the program, everything was so new and exciting that I had my phone pointed out the window of every bus ride, ready to take another hundred photos of the French countryside. As the excitement ebbed into contentment, I stopped taking blurry photos from moving vehicles to enjoy the moment. Now, I sit quietly on the bus to watch the lakefront, the silly pollarded trees, and the paragliders in the sky.

There remains one thing here that still incites amazement and probably always will. In The Priory, the Tufts European Center building, a Model O Steinway grand sits on the stage of MacJannet Hall. Like any Steinway, its tone is rich and dark, but this one is particularly warm to my ears. The keys were forgiving of my rusty fingers, which stopped practicing consistently upon entering freshman year of college.

Before college, classical piano may have been the only constant through three different high schools and five moves. Having played more this week than I have all of last semester, I can safely announce that this painful, yearlong hiatus has officially ended now.

Starting off, I attempted to revive Brahms’ “Rhapsody in G Minor” on my host family’s upright piano, thinking I did a poor job. Before I could heave a sigh, a voice shouted through the open window, “Bravo!” And then, I knew that pigs will fly if I ever stop playing.

Michelle Chan is a rising sophomore from Eugene, Oregon, majoring in computer engineering.

Rezaee receives scholarship to attend GHC

HamidehCongratulations to electrical engineering doctoral candidate Hamideh Rezaee, who has received a full scholarship to attend the 2016 Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) of Women in Computing Conference.

The event will take place in Houston, Texas in October, and is the world’s largest technical conference for women in computing. Attendees are able to take advantage of networking, mentoring, and collaborative proposals.

Tufts in Talloires: A study in nature

This summer, two students from the Bridge to Engineering Success at Tufts (BEST) program are blogging their experiences from Tufts in Talloires, a six-week summer program that offers students a dynamic group of courses taught by Tufts faculty. In addition to coursework, a wide variety of optional outdoor activities, weekly hikes into the Alps, field trips, and organized events offer each student the opportunity to explore the unique Haute-Savoie region of France. 

By Michelle Chan

Michelle 2 - postFrom Veyrier-du-Lac, France,  I travel a distance of 5,488 miles back to Eugene, Oregon just by hearing raindrops tapping on a window. At home in the Pacific Northwest, rain held the safety of a typical day. If I took 150 milliseconds to react to the sound, the speed it took to get home was 5.9 x 10^7 m/s. The speed of light is roughly 3.00 x 10^8 m/s, about five times faster.

Clearly, light is incredibly fast. However, I really didn’t expect home to be so close. The view outside my window depicted a rich green conifer standing against a sea of fog overlapping rolling mountains. Was it Oregon? Only the Alps in the corner suggested otherwise.

This week gave me many opportunities to reacquaint myself with nature. On Saturday, I went on a hike in Chamonix with a group in the program. Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps, was within breathtaking sight. Between a couple glaciers, a vast region of barren rock remained, black in contrast to the blinding white of ice. I was reminded of the importance of cyanobacteria, lifeforms that could somehow survive the inhospitality of living on naked rock. Someday, long after my lifetime, the same region will be lush with vegetation growing in soil made possible by these microorganisms feeding off light and inorganic nutrients.

Meanwhile, their effects can be seen in the existing wildlife, of which a minuscule fraction includes the 31 flowers whose Latin names and families I have to remember this week for my other class, Flowers of the Alps. Although it may be daunting to hear that I have more than 100 total names to commit to memory, it provides a convenient excuse for taking long hikes in search of alpine flowers all day.

Michelle Chan is a rising sophomore from Eugene, Oregon, majoring in computer engineering.

Koomson awarded NSF early-concept grant

Valencia Joyner Koomson, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, has received a National Science Foundation early-concept grant for exploratory research (EAGER) to develop a 3D optical imaging device to report data on the real-time electrical activity of multi-cellular systems.

The research, conducted in collaboration with postdoctoral scholar Nurdan Ozkucur, will have broader applications for disease pathways, drug development, and bioengineering.

Tufts in Talloires: To new perspectives

This summer, two students from the Bridge to Engineering Success at Tufts (BEST) program will blog their experiences from Tufts in Talloires, a six-week summer program that offers students a dynamic group of courses taught by Tufts faculty in Talloires, France. Students enrolled in this program choose two courses from a selection of undergraduate offerings. In addition to coursework, a wide variety of optional outdoor activities, weekly hikes into the Alps, field trips, and organized events offer each student the opportunity to explore the unique Haute-Savoie region of France. 

Michelle 1 -  postBy Michelle Chan

“Je ne parle pas français.” Following the robot voice of Google Translate, I tried to learn a sentence, preparing to meet my host family who spoke no English. Even if I could pronounce anything correctly, nothing could have prevented the overwhelming first day at the dinner table in which I did not understand a single word of French.

I chose to study abroad through the Tufts in Talloires program precisely to experience this growth-promoting unfamiliarity. One advantage of studying abroad is that my peers are also adjusting to the new environment, so being bad at something suddenly becomes a little less embarrassing than usual. The old adage of “Everybody has to start somewhere” starts to feel realistically applicable. I glance around the dinner table at my French major roommate, my host parents, and the carton of grapefruit juice, feeling brave enough to give it a try, to say, “Pamplemousse.” Grapefruit. The official first word I learned in French.

My hopes for these six weeks extends past learning a language, but also includes gaining an understanding for French culture and taking unique classes contributing invaluable breadth to my engineering education.

One class I am particularly excited about is Global Health Crises, which the professor designed to be interdisciplinary in a way that causes students with a science background to complain about having too much policy, and those with a social science background to complain about having too much science. As a computer engineering major, which is frankly neither science nor policy, I find importance in learning these subjects to foster an understanding of the real world before tackling its problems.

Now is a good time to take a step back from technical work to develop new perspectives.

Michelle Chan is a rising sophomore from Eugene, Oregon, majoring in computer engineering.