Girlhack STEM Jobs: Electrical Engineering Business Ownership

by Meg on February 7, 2012

Girlhack STEM Jobs will bring you the same set of basic questions for Women engaged in various STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math) careers, so that you can learn about what it takes to be in their particular field.  If you want to submit about your own job or have someone to recommend, please send an email to info AT girlhack DOT com

Theresa Brunasso

Theresa Brunasso, President of D&S Microwave, is a 30-year veteran in the field of Electrical Engineering. She currently is a consultant in the Microwave Aerospace and Defense Community. Previously, she spent over 20 years at EMS Technologies, Defense and Space Systems division. At D&SS, Theresa served as Microwave Engineering Manager and Director of Technology Development, but her favorite project was designing the antenna for the Mars Science Lab. Theresa holds an Engineer’s Degree and M.E. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Utah, and a B.S. in Physics from the University of West Florida. She is a member of Sigma Pi Sigma, the National Physics Honor Society. In 2008, she was one of three Georgia area women honored by Women in Technology (WIT) as a winner in the ninth annual Women of the Year in Technology Awards. She is a contributing author to “Climb: Leading Women in Technology Share Their Journeys to Success.”  Theresa loves traveling, and has vacationed in Mexico, Canada, Greece, Italy, France, Spain, Germany, England, Austria, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Denmark. This summer she will visit Portugal. She lives outside Atlanta with her husband, Brian Boe, a mathematics professor at UGA. You can reach Theresa at  theresa.brunasso AT dsmicrowave DOT com

 

What is your current job and career field?

I’m founder and president of D&S Microwave.  My company is a minority woman and veteran owned microwave consulting company supporting the Defense and Space industry.

What sorts of jobs did you have leading up to this? aka What is one example of a path to get where you are today.

Prior to starting D&S Microwave, I spent more than 20 years at EMS Technologies, Defense and Space division. At EMS, I served as Microwave Engineering Manager, Director of Technology Development, and worked on numerous programs, including JSTARS, TDRS, XM Radio, DarkStar, NSTAR, Milstar, Advanced EHF, IntelSat and the Mars Science Lab. Prior to joining EMS Technologies, I worked at Georgia Tech Research Institute and Teledyne MEC.  I began my career in the U.S. Navy as an Instructor at the Consolidated Naval Electronic Warfare School in Pensacola, FL.

Everyday is probably different, but what general tasks are you responsible for? What sort of technology do you use?

I’m responsible for everything in my business, including finding clients, performing research, doing design work, finding other contractors to work with me on projects, and writing reports.

What schooling do you need for a job similar to yours?

I have an Engineer’s Degree and M.E. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Utah, and a B.S. in Physics from the University of West Florida.  To do microwave design work, you need a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering or Physics.

In your industry, what are typical entry level jobs and pay?

Engineers’ starting salaries top the list of highest paid bachelor degrees.  For electrical engineers with a B.S. degree, the average starting salary in 2011 was just over $61,000.

What is cool about what you do?  What do you enjoy the most?

I get to design hardware that is used in space for communications and remote sensing.  In fact, I worked on the antennas that will be used to land the Mars Rover Curiosity on Mars later this year.  I also worked on the antennas on the DarkStar UAV that is hanging in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC.

What are common assumptions or mistakes people in regards to your field?

I think the most common mistake people make is that they think engineers spend all their time sitting in front of a computer.  In fact, engineering is very collaborative, and we spend a lot of time talking to our customers and other engineers to come up with the best solution for our customer’s problem.  Also, it surprises me that when people list professions that require creativity, they don’t include engineering.  Designing hardware or software takes a lot of creativity, and that is what makes our jobs so much fun.

Do you have any organizations, websites, or internships you can recommend for ladies who want to learn more or get connected ?

I’m an active member of the Atlanta chapter of IEEE Women in Engineering, and I recommend the following websites:

www.engineeryourlife.org

www.engineergirl.org

www.discoverengineering.org

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