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EECS Lunch and Learn with Industry series: Q & A with women of engineering


About the event

Interested to learn more about an engineering career, from the perspective of five women with decades of experience in engineering? Bring your questions to this open Q&A panel event. Get advice. Network. This event is sponsored by EECS, however, please invite friends pursuing STEM careers who also may be interested.

About the Speakers

Deb Gracio is Associate Laboratory Director at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), where she is responsible for the National Security Directorate’s over 1,500 staff members and $700 million annual research budget. Under her leadership, PNNL delivers scientific insights, tools, and methods to deploy impactful science and technology to sponsors in the Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, the Intelligence Community, and the National Nuclear Security Administration. In her 30 years at PNNL, Deb has led the strategy, research, development, and management of multiple cross-disciplinary, multi-laboratory programs focused on the basic sciences and national security sectors. She received an R&D 100 Award and a Federal Laboratory Consortium Award for a software product deployed worldwide and was recognized by DOE with an Outstanding Woman in Engineering award. She is on the executive advisory board for the College of Engineering and Architecture and the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Washington State University. She received her M.S. and B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Washington State University.

Kerri Lewis held a variety of leadership roles at Microsoft and was recently the General Manager of Strategic Sourcing. In this role, she led a team that managed a global supply chain that included over 250 strategic suppliers and $8B in spend across all component and subsystem categories. Including her tenure at Microsoft, Kerri spent a career spanning 30 years where she led teams at various Fortune 100 technology companies across aerospace, biomedical and telecom industries in a variety of roles in engineering, sourcing, manufacturing and product realization.

Renuka Nadkarni is the CTO for Security at F5 where she is responsible for driving unified technology architecture and long-term security strategy across the company. Prior to joining the Office of the CTO, she was Vice President of Business Operations and Chief of Staff to the CEO at F5, responsible for the operational cadence and governance of the business and providing market and technical insights. Nadkarni brings deep subject matter expertise in network and cloud security with 20+ years of following the trajectory of ever evolving security technologies. Before joining F5 in 2016, she held different architect and product management roles at VMware, Infoblox, WebSense, NetCitadel, and Nevis Networks. Renuka is an active member of security standards and certification programs and is a frequent speaker at industry events. She holds an MS in Electric Engineering from the University of Houston and a BS in Electric Engineering from the University of Mumbai.

Janet Olson is Vice President, Research & Development at Cadence Design Systems. She is responsible for front end design, including DFT, ATPG and Diagnostics. Previously, she was Vice President of Engineering at Synopsys, responsible for RTL synthesis R&D. Janet was awarded the Marie R. Pistilli Women in Electronic Design Award in 2017 and the YWCA Tribute to Women Award in 2015. She has published papers at the Design Automation Conference (DAC) and the International Conference on Computer Aided Design (ICCAD) and holds 8 patents in the field of Electronic Design Automation. Janet received her BS in Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, and MS Electrical Engineering from Stanford University.

Tawna Wilsey has been in a variety of roles at Cadence Design Systems (Customer Support Engineer, Product Verification Engineer, Field Application Engineer, and Engineering Director) for over 29 years. As a “gEEk,” she discovered her true love is the technical side of the business. Currently, she’s in the Sales organization supporting the Cadence IC analog/mixed-signal/RF simulation tools and the EMX 3D EM simulation tool. She’s a prolific author of Articles, AppNotes, and Workshops on using Cadence tools. Over the last 8 years, she’s regularly presented MicroApp papers at the IEEE International Microwave Symposium. Earlier this year, she was the recipient of the international Cadence “2020 Knowledge Luminary of the Year Award” for her technical contributions. Tawna holds a BSEE from the University of Idaho. Her MSEE from Santa Clara University is in microwaves & RF. Prior to her time at Cadence, she was a Microwave Research engineer for over 6 years at Varian Associates. Outside of work, she enjoys hiking, biking, silversmithing, and fusing glass. She’s also the mother of three human children and 2 feline children.

Series Purpose:
It has been said one should never let a crisis go to waste, because it can be an opportunity to try new things that may not have been possible before. And, with the remote learning resources now available, we have a new means for industry to connect with students at WSU.
The purpose of this speaking series is for high-tech companies to share insight with EECS students and give time for Q&A.
Example topics will include career experiences, how to succeed in industry, what to expect with your first job, interviewing advice, along with technology discussions and trends.
The series is brought to you by the WSU EECS Executive Council. We are engineers, managers, and executives that help advise the WSU EECS program so what you learn at school matches the skills and values needed for a successful career.