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At last year’s inaugural Broadcom MASTERS (Math, Applied Science, Technology, and Engineering for Rising Stars), students requested more opportunities to meet with and speak to professionals in the STEM fields. Earlier this week, this year’s class of Broadcom MASTERS had the opportunity to introduce themselves and speed network with six science and engineering professionals.
Participating professionals included Dennis Glanzman, Chief of Theoretical & Computational Neuroscience Program and Mi Hillefors, Chief, Experimental Therapeutics Program, Clinical Neuroscience Research Branch, both of the National Institute of Mental Health at the National Institutes of Health; Drew Baden, Professor and Chair of the Department of Physics at the University of Maryland, College Park; Nancy Knowlton, Sant Chair for Marine Science at the Smithsonian Institution; Rozi Roufoogaran, Manager of Engineering and Shane Lansing, Senior Manager, IC Design Engineering, both of Broadcom Corporation.
Students and professionals began the session by sitting around a large table. Professionals introduced themselves and spoke briefly about their career background, while students described the research projects that had qualified them to participate in the Broadcom MASTERS. After that, the students broke into small groups of 2-3 and rotated through tables where they were able to ask questions and get advice from the professionals.
Dennis Glanzman and Mi Hillefors, both of the National Institute of Mental Health, spoke about the importance of keeping your education as broad as possible and taking all available math and science classes. Now both working in neuroscience, Dennis originally began his career as a nuclear physicist and Mi started out in chemical engineering, only to obtain a medical degree, and then a PhD in neuroscience. As Mi said, “When I was your age, I had no idea this would be what I ended up doing. With a good background, you won’t be afraid to switch fields and follow your interests… Science is a team effort. You can be a specialist, but you still need to have an overall understanding of what other team members are doing.” Dennis reiterated the importance of a strong math background, saying “Math is the building block of science. It’s how we communicate and interpret. Even if you don’t use math in your daily research, you need to be able to look at results critically.”
Drew Baden, of the University of MD- College Park, asked students at his table about their projects and future plans, then provided advice on their generation’s responsibility to learn and practice science. “The world is becoming more crowded and polluted. The good news is that a lot of people are now starting to listen to scientists, but these problems will be your generation’s responsibility to solve.”
After 40 years working as a scientist specializing in research on coral reefs and ocean preservation, including stints working as a professor at Yale and for both the Scripps Institute and the Smithsonian, Nancy Knowlton said that “working as a scientist is almost always fun; the hardest part is having too much to do and trying to keep all the balls in the air,” especially as you progress in your career and have different responsibilities such as managing projects. She then spoke about how science has never been a 9 to 5 job for her, as her curiosity keeps her focused even off hours.
Rozi Roufoogaran and Shane Lansing, both engineers at Broadcom Corporation who work with teams of designers, brought a table full of show and tell products including a wireless router, Nintendo Wii remote, iPhone, and more to show the progression of chips for wireless communication. Shane described his job to students as “constantly creating and innovating. We are always looking for new ways to reinvent wireless communication.”
The Broadcom MASTERS finalists were eager to talk to the participating professionals and had lots of questions. Finalists have expressed interest in careers in engineering, computer sciences, animal sciences, physics, biology, biotechnology, and more.
Jack Albright is a high school freshman from Hillsborough, California, and the recipient of the 2018 Broadcom MASTERS $20,000 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Award for Health Advancement.
On a day like any other, Rachel Pizzolato received a phone call. Normally her family wouldn’t answer an unrecognizable number, but that day they felt compelled to answer.