Guest speakers celebrate Ada Lovelace Day


Karla Solorzano

Yogita Shah presenting her career path leading up to Aerospace Corporation.

A wave of students filled the auditeria as the speakers buzzed with the voice of teacher Fred Blattner. “Good afternoon,” Blattner said. “If I could have your attention, please.” The room quickly died of all noise. “So first of all, let me thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time from your academic schedules,” Blattner said. “I wanted to take literally just two minutes to explain why we’re all here. We are a science and technology school — we want to do as much as we can to raise awareness and get you [young women] interested in . . . working in STEM fields.”

Blattner proceeded to play a short video on Ada Lovelace — the inspiration behind the celebration of women’s achievements in science, technology, engineering and math. “I would like to introduce the first of our speakers, Mrs. Yogita Shah from Aerospace Corporation,” said Blattner as he handed the microphone to Shah. “I’m going to tell you how I decided to be an engineer and how I reached who I am today,” Shah said. She described how despite all her hardships of being a mother and the countless people questioning her choices, Shah achieved her dream career of being an engineer.

Shah said that her projects at Aerospace Corporation consist of satellite and ground systems for the United States Air Force. She ended her presentation with a quote from Mahatma Gandhi: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

Jessica Bowles-Martinez describing her early childhood goals and dreams before her introduction to engineering.
Anthony Francisco
Jessica Bowles-Martinez describing her early childhood goals and dreams before her introduction to engineering.

The second speaker, Jessica Bowles-Martinez, an engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, described how leaving for college “was considered a foreign idea” by the people she knew. Bowles-Martinez spent a considerable amount of time discussing her previous jobs at Hewlett-Packard and Intel. She said that despite both companies providing an engineering job to her, working with printers and CPUs was uninteresting to her. Only when she joined JPL did she finally feel her dream was accomplished.

This is the first time our school had celebrated Ada Lovelace Day. Blattner said that one of the reasons why he was motivated to host such an event was to help raise awareness, specifically for girls, regarding the opportunities in STEM-related careers.

“It is necessary to encourage women to work in STEM research because they too have the drive to develop new and revolutionary ideas,” said junior Cristian De La Cruz. “The aspect of engineering should not be limited to males, but expanded and awakened in the many inspired individuals that strive for greatness! What more to expand with these jobs to females who can just as good or even better work than men.”

Junior Claire Garcia shared a similar sentiment, saying that the Ada Lovelace celebration brought the much needed support. “It’s a male-dominated field and it’s nice to get info from women who made their way up through the engineering field,” Garcia said.