Carla Fair-Wright, Software Engineer
Optimal Consulting LLC
What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
My high school math teacher Sister Donna Blaul. She always encouraged me to do my best and be authentic. Unfortunately, her life was ended by a tragic event before I could thank her. However, I recently found out about a scholarship that was created in her name.
What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
I was a rebel growing up. I joined the military after a year in Biomedical Engineering at Boston University against family wishes. While I was on active duty in the US Air Force, I worked in war planning. It was extremely complex work and very challenging. Every day was different. I don't miss the pace, but do sometimes miss the challenges.
Betty Shanahan, executive director and CEO for the Society of Women Engineers; Madeleine Albright - First woman to become the United States Secretary of State; Dr. Thelma Estrin - a pioneer in biomedical engineering.
Why do you love working in STEM?
The career opportunities are limitless. You are bound by your imagination and your will to succeed. Being a Software Engineer and Project Manager, I get to work on all types of projects across every industry. My current software project is for one of the largest law enforcement agencies in the US. Prior to taking on this project, I worked for British Petroleum on the Spill Response effort in the Gulf.
Before that, I worked in the automotive industry. I could never be the kind of person that worked for 30 years for a company doing the same job. Owning my own company, seemed like a natural choice for me. I encourage my daughter, who is an actress, to be independent and fiscally aware. At sixteen, she is starting a small theatre workshop for elementary children. I already applied for a spot on the popular TV show Shark Tank for her to pitch her business!
Advice for future STEMinists?
Heed the lesson of Rosalind Franklin. Franklin discovered the helical structure of DNA. Nobel Prize winners Watson and Crick admitted they could not have discovered the structure of DNA without her work. But, Rosalind preferred to work alone and lives in the shadows of history. To be successful and reach your full potential you must learn to work with others. To quote Ursula Burns, mechanical engineer and now CEO of Xerox, "If You Don't Transform, You're Stuck."
Favorite website/app: Twitter