Project Leader Spotlight: Brenda Vilas Boas

Project Leader Spotlight: Brenda Vilas Boas

Q: Why did you decide to go into an engineering/STEM-related field?

A: My fist step into STEM was in 2007 when I decided to take high school with an integrated technical degree in telecommunications. My goal was to learn how to fix computers because I liked to play in my family’s second hand computer and one day it went for repair and never came back! I had not thought engineering as a career until some of my professors asked if I have ever considered electrical engineering, because I had potential. That echoed in my mind and leaded me to search more information about the field. I also enjoyed a lot the technical course, so I chose to go electrical engineering with focus in telecommunications.

Q: Who is your role model and why?

A: I have a private “hall of fame” where I keep people who have crossed my life and which life experience is worth reproducing. Most of those figures are or were my professors. Unfortunately, few of them are women, but I do not feel anything weaker because talking with my male professors is always encouraging. Their guidance words and engagement in constructing my career means a world to me.

Q: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned through your participation in EPICS community service projects?

A: “How do you meet the partners expectation?” is a good lesson. As a project leader I have to think on actions that would ensure gender equality, keep high-school students’ interest on the activities and ways to ease knowledge transfer to the community. Those concepts are not usually part of an engineer life and that lead some of my team members to be skeptical. My task is being to convince them that we can do that! At the end, a big lesson will be that engineers can deploy and promote technology awareness.

Q: How has the EPICS program benefitted you overall?

A: Dealing with the real problems of deploying an engineering project is for sure something you do not learn in the classroom. How do you request a license? How to approach a municipality representative? Find a company who agrees shipping to a distant place in the Amazon … Well, all the students participating in the CELCOM project are facing new real situations, which are better preparing us to the job market.

Q: What advice do you have for other students considering a career in engineering?

A: If you like math, physics, and “impossible” is not a word in your dictionary, you are in a good track for engineering! Engineers can change realities and history by means of technology, so if you ever thought something could be done better by changing some stuff or using a different tool…you already have the engineer mindset, just choose your area and improve your knowledge. It will be, for sure, a great and enjoyable adventure! Oh, last, but more important: be curious and collaborative! Curiosity drives new ideas and collaboration is key in engineering as “no (wo)men is an island”.

Q: What is your future career plan and how do you think IEEE will help you get there?

A: As most of my influencers are professors, it is straightforward to think about a PhD and be a professor. However, with this whole thing of innovation and digital revolution, I wonder how exciting it would be to work in a company that is going toward this new society. I believe the combination of classes, research projects, community projects and IEEE leadership are making my undergrad experience pretty enjoyable and the skills I am learning are required when pursuing any of those career paths.