Dorris Tendall started at Sandia in 1952 with an MS in physics from Iowa State University. Her master’s thesis was published by the Atomic Energy Commission and she worked in aeronautics research before coming to Sandia. Once here, she conducted model studies of weapons effects and eventually segued into seismic studies of nuclear tests, serving as project scientist for the Sandia Nevada Test Site Seismic Net in 1964. She continued in test effects work until she retired in 1979.
"In my experience, engineering was always more than just equations, it was creative problem solving. As I mentor students today, I always strive to highlight the creativity and collaboration found in engineering."
Sandia's Ireena Erteza, PhD ’93, Electrical Engineering from Stanford School of Engineering recently shared what engineering means to her as part of the #IAmAnEngineer series. Check out her interview to learn more about her and how her work has a beneficial impact on people and society. ...
#IAmAnEngineer: For me, this means that I integrate knowledge to create new things. Creativity and imagination are two of the most important parts of being an engineer. I love to describe engineering as crafting. In crafting, you have to know how to measure things. You have to figure out how to put things together, and you have to work to understand the properties of your materials and tools (or invent new tools) in order to make something. Similarly, engineers use math, science and specific engineering skills to create new things. As kids, we all loved the creativity found in crafting in one form or another, and without even knowing it, we were all essentially engineers.
My father was an electrical engineering professor and introduced me to the world of engineering. He was playful and creative and gave me free rein in his workshop. We spent hours together tinkering with cars, lawnmowers, computers, modems—you name it. I also would make things on my own. It never occurred to me that there was a perception that engineering wasn’t creative until I was in college. In my experience, engineering was always more than just equations, it was creative problem solving. As I mentor students today, I always strive to highlight the creativity and collaboration found in engineering.
I currently work for Sandia National Labs. Here, I apply my experience and knowledge in multiple branches of electrical engineering to improve a sensing technology known as Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR). This is a technology that enables the creation of high-resolution 2- or 3-dimensional images of objects or landscapes. Using this technology, we can gather information in conditions where it might typically be difficult for humans to see; e.g., through clouds or fog or at far distances. SAR images have widespread applicability, and we are always working to find new ways to gain more information from SAR. I’ve worked with this technology for over 20 years now and have come to thoroughly understand its strengths and challenges. One challenge is the speed at which images are created. As we’ve found creative ways to make images more quickly, my knowledge of these systems has enabled me to propose innovative solutions to access and also extract information from SAR images. Being able to do this for projects that have national impact is very fulfilling.
Aside from the technical challenges in engineering, I’ve also dealt with the challenges of impostor syndrome—the feeling, especially from others, that as a woman or a minority I am an outsider in the field. When I was a student, that attitude was prevalent, but I didn’t expect that 30 years later when I enter a room, some people would still be surprised that I am the PhD researcher driving a project. That’s why I jumped on this opportunity; I want to be part of something that shows that engineers come from all different backgrounds, ages, genders, etc. —Ireena Erteza, PhD ’93, Electrical Engineering
Photo credit: Amanda Law
As a part of our ongoing series #IAmAnEngineer, we sit down with Stanford Engineering alumni and faculty to hear about what engineering means to them and how their work has a beneficial impact on people and society.
Happy #PiDay! The area of a wave energy converter, which absorbs power from the ocean, relates to how it bobs in the water 🌊 Using pi, can you calculate the area of this Sandia device? Hint: the diameter is 1.76 m. ...
Betty Carrell didn't want any career other than engineering, even though it meant being the only woman pursuing that field, both in college at Oregon State University and when she began work as the first female mechanical #engineer hired at Sandia's California site in 1959.
Her engineering projects included work on vibration fixtures, solar-thermal technology, and environmental testing, but she is especially proud of the environmental management work she accomplished for the U.S. Department of Energy. After retiring from Sandia in 1998, Betty was recognized in the California House of Representatives as a true female pioneer. Her two children, a son and a daughter, are both mechanical engineers.
Her advice to younger women: "Know you can do anything you set your mind to — don't ever think you can't do something because you’re a woman — if a job seems insurmountable, tackle it a little bit at a time. One day you will reach your goal."