Women Engineers You Should Know

This year marks the 10th anniversary of our series celebrating exceptionally accomplished women engineers who have demonstrated a commitment to creating opportunities for others.

By Meredith Holmes, SWE Contributor

Call them “engineers’ engineers.” Not famous in the usual sense — the 2024 Women Engineers You Should Know nominees are not media stars — they are “sheroes” to their colleagues, to those they have helped directly, and to young people they have inspired to pursue STEM careers and to push past obstacles.

The 15 engineers selected this year by a SWE editorial board panel are diverse in age, background, location, and engineering discipline. Many are young — at the beginning of already-stellar careers; others are midcareer professionals with wide-ranging experience; and two are historic figures whose contributions to science and engineering are not widely known. It’s hard to imagine a more fully engaged group of women: Many teach at all levels in a variety of venues; one sails competitively; one tackled the 2020 pandemic personal protective equipment shortage; one found herself advising parents of neurodivergent children; and one fights for ethical applications of AI.

These women come from all over the world. Some work in their home country, and others have traveled great distances to get an engineering education and practice their profession. These are lives well lived by women whose careers reveal the versatility of the engineering profession and its power to make positive change.

Kitty O’Brien Joyner

(July 11, 1916 – Aug. 16, 1993)

Hampton, Virginia

Electrical, Aeronautical Engineering

The expression “trailblazer” might have been coined to describe Kitty O’Brien Joyner. In 1939, she was the first woman to earn an engineering degree from the University of Virginia (UVA), leaping hurdles put in place to discourage women. Virginia state law permitted women to attend public universities, but UVA required women to attend another school for two years first and to be at least 20 years old before applying.

An outstanding student and active member of the campus community, she received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan award for “excellence of character and service to humanity.” She was one of only six students chosen to present research papers at the American Institute of Electrical Engineers southern convention, and her paper on fluorescent lighting won second prize. Joyner graduated with a B.S. in electrical engineering, and the following September, she became the first woman engineer ever hired to work at the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory, now NASA Langley Research Center.

During the 1940s, as Langley Memorial expanded aeronautics research and development, Joyner’s career took off. She shifted to electrical engineering projects, managing electrical systems for subsonic and supersonic wind tunnels. Her research contributed to aeronautics, supersonic flight, airfoil design, and aircraft design standards. Joyner worked at Langley for 32 years, rising to branch head in the 1960s. Long before the women’s movement, Joyner’s courage and persistence in pursuing an education and a career in a male-dominated profession opened doors for women engineers to follow.

Rose Katherine Morton Sayre

(Dec. 3, 1925 – Nov. 12, 1999)

Washington, D.C.

Mathematics, Hydrodynamics

How do you get a constant named after you? Like solving an equation, it is a step-by-step process. Rose K. Morton graduated from the Woman’s College, University of North Carolina (now UNC Greensboro), in 1948 with a B.A. in mathematics. That same year, she was hired as a “physical science aide” at the David Taylor Model Basin (DTMB), a U.S. Navy research facility in Carderock, Maryland. The DTMB — now part of the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division — housed an experimental towing tank, wind tunnels, and other large-scale ship and seaplane design test facilities. Morton analyzed wind tunnel data and supervised a team of mathematicians.

Promoted to “mathematician” in 1951, Morton joined the Flow Study Section of the Hydrodynamic Division, where she performed numerical calculations on experimental data and found solutions to differential equations of fluid motion related to naval ship and submarine design. She also took graduate-level classes in physics and math and learned to program the Burroughs E101 electronic digital computer.

It was during Morton’s collaboration with William Haberman, Ph.D., on fluid mechanics analysis of liquids and bubbles, that the two researchers developed a new dimensionless constant related to the motion of air bubbles in liquids. In their published papers, Dr. Haberman named the constant the Morton number (Mo), after Morton. This constant simplifies the dimensional analysis of the interaction of air and water in hydraulic modeling. For her meticulous research, Morton was recognized as a Famous Woman in Hydraulics in 2021 by Hydrolink magazine.

Lily R. Asongfac

Cameroon, Africa

Electrical Engineering

Lily R. Asongfac is a young space professional with a double mission: to advocate for humanitarian space policy and to encourage young people in Africa to consider careers in aerospace. She is currently international accounts manager for SpaceVerse, managing relationships with space agencies and companies and conducting space outreach activities for children through the Aerospace Baby Project she founded.

In 2020, Asongfac earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical and electronic engineering, with a focus on telecommunications engineering, from the University of Buea in Buea, Cameroon. She has expertise in environmental science and engineering, geospatial technology, and educational technology. Asongfac designed and analyzed space missions during an internship at Nanosatellite Missions Design. As an Open Cosmos Academy Ambassador, she facilitated mission design trainings with the Cameroon SGAC — the Space Generation Advisory Council, an NGO with ties to the United Nations.

As the appointed national point of contact for SGAC in Cameroon, Asongfac has a track record of promoting STEM and organizing events that involve young people in information and communications technology and computer programming. She works with and mentors young people under the umbrella of the Y4SSD-Aerospace Baby Project (Youths for Sustainable Space Development Society), which she founded to encourage young Cameroonians to pursue their dreams of a career in space. Asongfac also serves as the Google Crowdsource representative for Cameroon and advocates for accessibility on Google Maps, encouraging local businesses to make their spaces accessible for all.

Asongfac received a 2023 Nebula Award, enabling her to attend the 11th Space Generation Fusion Forum and the 38th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Selected as a U.S. Department of State TechWomen fellow, Asongfac participated in mentoring programs led by Silicon Valley, NASA, and Jacobs Engineering Group professionals.

Patrizia Carpentieri

London, England

Blast Engineering, Counterterrorism, Design and Project Management, Data Center

While living and working in Turkey, Patrizia Carpentieri, a civil engineer with a focus on construction, building retrofits, and earthquake engineering, had an experience that changed the course of her career. Terrorists set off bombs in Istanbul and Ankara, causing Carpentieri to think seriously about what could have been done to prevent damage and injuries.

Soon after, Carpentieri began working in the U.K. on blast engineering projects for AECOM, an international infrastructure engineering firm, eventually moving into her current position as principal blast consultant for Arup in London, a sustainable architectural and engineering firm. In this capacity, her main focus is facade and structural design for residential, infrastructure, and government projects. She and her team design resilient structures that can withstand a malicious explosion. Carpentieri has worked on major projects all over the world, including the Belfast transport hub, the Hong Kong Immigration Tower, the Waterloo International Terminal, and the Istanbul International Airport.

But that’s only one of her jobs. Always looking for challenges, Carpentieri began, in 2022, to explore design management for data center projects. This entails coordinating engineering and architecture disciplines, discussing technical solutions, and improving processes. She is a huge fan of the collaborative process and believes that diversity of skill, personality, and culture improves outcomes.

An avid traveler, Carpentieri also loves to paint, snorkel, scuba dive, and discover new cultures. She volunteers with Breaking Barriers, a U.K.-based nonprofit, helping refugees with technical backgrounds find jobs in their field.

Sherin Thomas

San Francisco, California

Computer Science

Currently a senior staff software engineer at Slack, Sherin Thomas’s resume is a who’s who of United States tech giants — Lyft, Chime, Google, Netflix, and Twitter. She earned a master’s in computer science from the University of Florida in 2012 and has since emerged as a leading expert in streaming, data infrastructure, big data, distributed systems, and climate change research.

Thomas speaks at major conferences, such as QCon, Grace Hopper, Women Who Code, and Beam Summit, and gives talks on advances in data and machine learning. She is a member of the industrial advisory board at the University of Florida, guiding decisions on curriculum and investments. She contributed to the InfoQ 2023 AI, ML, and Data Engineering Trends report. InfoQ gets more than 1.5 million monthly site visitors and influences decisions by major software companies.

As a technical advisor at SpaceML, Thomas brings her expertise in big data and her determination to solve problems — no matter how thorny — to the challenge of the climate crisis.

SpaceML is an AI incubator that was started by a group of citizen scientists and industry professionals. One of its projects has been a search engine that can auto-detect important weather phenomena such as hurricanes, wildfires, and melting ice caps from the massive set of satellite images NASA has collected daily for 20 years.

She recruited students from the university’s Women in Computer Science group to work on the project, which led to several publications, open-source projects, and lucrative careers for all involved. Thomas also works with Collaborative Earth and ecologists from ETH Zurich to leverage AI for forest regeneration.

Madona S. Wambua

New York City

Software Engineering

Growing up in Nairobi, Kenya, Madona Wambua watched with awe as planes flew overhead and decided that if others had figured out how to fly, she could do great things, too. At first, she wanted to be an aeronautical engineer, but then computers captured her interest, and she came to the United States to study computer science and engineering at Auburn University’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering.

Wambua has boundless enthusiasm for the problem-solving possibilities of technology. Ten years after graduating from college, she is a startup founder and chief technology officer, frequent keynote speaker, podcast host, senior Android engineer, author, mother of two sons, and mentor to many.

An industry trailblazer in cloud migration, machine learning, and AI applications, Wambua is also an Android expert and shares her expertise with women and girls in Nairobi. Committed to breaking down barriers for women in tech, Wambua is also active in educational and mentoring organizations including UStrive, CodePath, and Mães Negras do Brasil.

In 2023, Wambua founded Jibu Labs, a consulting firm. Jibu, Swahili for “answer to a question,” reflects the company’s mission as well as Wambua’s relentless quest for innovation and technical solutions.

The flagship project of Jibu Labs is Jenga Realty. Wambua is working toward its launch after experiencing the obstacle-strewn path to remotely purchasing real estate in Africa. The platform will simplify buying and selling and provide a secure, transparent platform for Africans who want to maintain ties with their home country and the growing number of Black Americans leaving the United States to settle in Africa.

Mrinal Karvir

Santa Clara, California

Computer Engineering, Artificial Intelligence

When powerful technologies emerge, we need rational, informed leadership to harness these innovations for the benefit of all.

Mrinal Karvir provides that leadership every day. With a degree in computer engineering from North Carolina State University and an executive leadership development certificate from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, Karvir is a passionate ethical artificial intelligence champion. She serves as senior AI software engineering manager at Intel Corp., where she leads engineering for Intel Developer Cloud for the Edge. She has worked on development of the first presence-aware PC experience with Intel Context Sensing Technology, which won an innovation award at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2019. She has also earned many division recognition awards at Intel.

Tirelessly providing clarity on responsible AI practices for engineering professionals, Karvir has given talks at Society of Women Engineers events, the Embedded Vision Summit, the IEEE Conference on Artificial Intelligence, and Silicon Valley Women in Engineering events. An IEEE senior member, Karvir helped shape the IEEE artificial intelligence ethics standards as an expert reviewer.

Karvir also serves as secretary and on the board of governors for the IEEE Computer Society and as vice chair for the IEEE Santa Clara Valley Women in Engineering chapter. She volunteers as an ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) program evaluator for the computer science, software engineering, and data science programs. She often serves on judging panels and reviews content for AI conferences. Karvir is also a volunteer SWE mentor and a reviewer for the SWE scholarship and for the National Center for Women & Information Technology Computing Awards.

Meg Lang

Dulles, Virginia

Electrical Engineering, Spacecraft Power Engineering

Letters might be old fashioned, but for this electrical engineer, letters from home led to a surprising mentoring opportunity.

Meg Lang is from Edmond, Oklahoma, a town where everyone knows everyone. After earning a B.S. in biosystems and agricultural engineering from Oklahoma State University (OSU), she worked as a research engineer and electrical design engineer. These days she works as the electrical power subsystem lead for Northrop Grumman’s Human Exploration and Operations Spacecraft Product Line and the Cygnus spacecraft, which handles cargo resupply missions for NASA to the International Space Station. Her responsibilities include spacecraft power bus design, battery/solar array trade studies, and energy balance analyses for commercial resupply, Artemis, and Mars programs.

Lang also operates the electrical power subsystem, or EPS, mission control console for several communications satellites, Mission Extension spacecrafts, and jointly with NASA Johnson for the Cygnus spacecraft. At her alma mater, she taught Matlab, built instrumentation for the greenhouse on NASA’s Mars simulation habitat, and worked on the OSU biorobotics team.

Naturally, Lang’s mother is proud of her. When she posted her daughter’s accomplishments on social media, Edmond residents suddenly became quite interested in aerospace engineering. The first person to write to Lang was the parent of a boy on the autism spectrum who was intensely focused on space exploration. Was there a career path for him? Letters from parents of neurodiverse children followed, so Lang set up a pen pal program. She now corresponds with several students, sharing STEM career advice and information about the space program. She believes we will need everyone with STEM and programming skills to make the journey to Mars and beyond.

Adebimpe Daniells

New York City

Software Engineering, AI, Machine Learning Solutions

A senior solutions architect at Amazon Web Services in the company’s Worldwide Customer Services Private Equity organization, Adebimpe Daniells has partnered with private equity firms to develop technical strategies. This bold move has enhanced investment growth and fostered innovative practices for her employer.

Her expertise in cloud migration, modernization, and deployment of machine learning and AI enables her to align technological solutions with business objectives. As a result, she received this year’s Amazon Web Services Technology Innovator Award, citing her pioneering use of the company’s technologies to solve real-world problems.

Daniells is active in Amazon’s Black Employee Network Nigeria affinity group, particularly in overseeing global community engagement. Committed to literacy empowerment and STEM advocacy for women and girls — especially Black girls — Daniells is involved in the Amazon Hour of Code and often speaks at conferences and on panels. In addition, she established the Aqua Foundation, which promotes smart farming and sustainable development by linking solutions with funding.

Serendipity, Daniells’s recently published memoir, tells the story of growing up in a large family in Nigeria; her encounters with gender inequality; how she learned to cope with sickle cell anemia, a debilitating chronic illness; and how she turned her dream of becoming an engineer into reality.

Her thirst for learning led her to pursue an education abroad, earning an associate degree in computer programming and analysis from Seneca Polytechnic in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and later a B.A. in information systems from Rutgers University-Newark. She authored the book to show women all over the world that they can overcome barriers and realize their ambitions.

Nareh Manooki

Burbank, California

Aerospace Engineering

When Nareh Manooki masters a subject, she uses her knowledge to help people. Her father encouraged her love of math and science, and when she was 9, Manooki read a thick MS-DOS computer manual and learned how to compose contracts for her father’s roofing business. Misled by a middle school teacher about her math ability, Manooki went on to excel in geometry and calculus and to tutor her classmates.

As a multitalented undergraduate at the University of California San Diego, she found that declaring a major was a problem: Math? Art? Medicine? Aerospace engineering proved a perfect combination of her interests and skills. She worked in the university engineering lab, maintaining equipment and helping students with robotic projects. She joined The Boeing Company in 2006 while a college junior, rising to senior propulsion design engineer in 2023 and earning accolades for tackling unpopular and difficult projects.

After the birth of her first son, Manooki took a temporary leave from industry to embark on a career in engineering education, determined to make a difference for underrepresented minorities in STEM. She teaches engineering at her local community college, and mentors students with hands-on charitable projects such as Go Baby Go, modifying ride-on cars for children with physical mobility needs. She serves as a Society of Women Engineers community college advisor and takes students to SWE conferences.

Manooki’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic was to 3D print personal protective equipment parts from home and donate them to hospitals. She scaled the results and organized students and teachers to join the effort. For her visionary generosity, U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., recognized her with the Woman of the Year: Burbank 2021 award.

Ogechi Vivian Nwadiaru

Africa / Amherst, Massachusetts

Industrial Engineering, Operations Research, Energy Equity

Ogechi Vivian Nwadiaru, an industrial engineering and operations research Ph.D. student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has her eye on the future. Combining her interests in mathematical modeling and policy, Nwadiaru is developing a collaborative energy storage model that could benefit all, especially low-income communities, as the world transitions from fossil fuel to renewables.

Drawn to UMass’s Energy Transition Institute, Nwadiaru arrived in 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, with an undergraduate degree in metallurgical and materials engineering from the University of Nigeria and an M.S. in energy engineering from Pan African University. She received the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation’s International Climate Protection Research fellowship to study the proliferation of backup fossil-fuel generators in Nigeria at the Technical University Berlin and the University of Oxford.

One of Nwadiaru’s goals is to ensure that a transition away from fossil fuel is equitable and that energy policy is informed by quantitative as well as qualitative data. She wants to help engineers include more human- and community-centered work in energy optimization models. Her own research integrates tools such as focus group discussions, semi-structured interviews, and participant observations.

A vibrant and accomplished campus citizen, Nwadiaru was chosen to be the student speaker at the UMass Sustainable Engineering Laboratories groundbreaking ceremony. She received a Spaulding-Smith fellowship, given to an outstanding Ph.D. student in a STEM field. Nwadiaru teaches first-year engineering students, and she founded STEMJets, an experiential science learning NGO for children from marginalized communities in Nigeria.

Andressa Ojeda

Loanda, Paraná State, Brazil

Aerospace Engineering

Born in a small town in Brazil, Andressa Ojeda, while still young, has launched herself into the stratosphere of her chosen profession. Intending to be the first Brazilian woman astronaut, she speaks at countless schools, telling her story and hoping to inspire students from similar backgrounds to pursue STEM careers.

An excellent high school student, Ojeda was accepted by an exchange program sponsored by the Rotary Club. She spent her senior year in the United States, participating in regional and state robotics competitions and landing an internship with an astrophysicist from Harvard University to work with high-power rockets and CubeSats.

She is now an undergraduate in aerospace engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, one of 30 selected from 33,876 applicants to receive a scholarship that covers 95% of her costs. In her first year, she participated in a project for NASA’s Lunabotics Competition and won a microgravity research flight, riding with scientists from NASA and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency. She was the first Brazilian woman to participate in a research and training project for suborbital spaceflights.

Ojeda interned for seven months at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, and worked on the Large Hadron Collider, studying linear and nonlinear optics related to accelerator physics. She was involved in a research project with Embry-Riddle and the company Intuitive Machines, in which the team developed a satellite with a camera that was sent aboard the Nova-C lunar lander to take the world’s first third-person photo of a spacecraft as it makes an extraterrestrial landing.

Marianne Eaves

Lexington, Kentucky

Chemical Engineering

Marianne Eaves was destined to become the first woman master distiller of bourbon in Kentucky since Prohibition. She was born in Tennessee and raised in Kentucky, and she is a “super taster” with a sensitive palate. But imagination and a restless entrepreneurial spirit have also played a part in her success.

Master distillers are responsible for the entire operation of a distillery — production, quality control, employee relations, supply sourcing, and product testing and development. It is a well-paid, highly respected profession, and until 1974, women were forbidden by state law to hold any distillery job except that of cashier or waitress.

While a chemical engineering student at the University of Louisville, Eaves accepted an internship at the Brown-Forman Corp. distillery in Louisville, Kentucky. She worked there for four years, learning the art of bourbon making and earning the title of Master Taster of Whiskey and Bourbon. Knowing she had found her purpose, Eaves accepted a job at Woodford Reserve distillery, then invested in the historic Taylor distillery, an abandoned building on 113 acres near Frankfort, once considered the most important distillery in Kentucky. She took on the formidable task of restoring the building and the entire distillery operation, thus becoming Kentucky’s first woman master distiller.

Eaves’s latest venture is Forbidden, a small-batch, Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey launched in 2023 that honors her advances into male territory. Made with food-grade grain and an unconventional low-temperature fermentation process, it took Eaves 10 years and a lot of chemical engineering to develop the recipe.

Gozde Ustuner

Long Island, New York

Mechanical Engineering

It is hard to comprehend how Gozde Ustuner has packed so many accomplishments into such a short time. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Stony Brook University, a full-time professor in the Farmingdale State College department of automotive technology, and a researcher at Brookhaven National Laboratory, where the focus of her work is designing and developing an electrocatalyst for hydrogen fuel cells that will be suitable to apply to fuel-cell-powered passenger and commercial vehicles while generating clean electricity. Just shy of her 30th birthday, Ustuner accepted the position of acting department chair at Farmingdale.

Before coming to Farmingdale, she worked as a design engineer in industry and conducted research funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation. She also taught as an adjunct professor at several other universities. Her areas of expertise include nanoparticles, nanocatalyst development, electrochemistry, electrocatalysis, and fuel-cell technology. Ustuner received a full scholarship to New York University, where she earned a B.S. in mechanical engineering, followed by a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Stony Brook University.

Despite her full schedule and demanding career, Ustuner regularly advocates for young people and women in STEM careers. She is the youngest person ever to give a TEDx talk in her area, and she volunteers at many outreach events — conferences, seminars, and school science fairs. Ustuner serves as vice president of the SWE New York Professional Section and a board member of the Long Island Section for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Siobhan MacDonald

Toronto, Canada

Mechanical Engineering, Biomechanics

Siobhan MacDonald is a woman who never stops moving. A versatile engineer, she sails competitively and does not hesitate to pick up and move when she sees a new opportunity. She lives in Toronto and works as a project coordinator at ONxpress, a public-private partnership convened in 2019 to modernize Ontario’s passenger rail system.

MacDonald grew up in Mabou, Nova Scotia, and started sailing when she was about 6 years old, never letting her amelia — a congenital absence of one or more limbs — stop her. She volunteered with the War Amps of Canada, aware of her potential as a role model for young people with disabilities and their families.

She moved to Kingston to study mechanical engineering at Queen’s University, excelling as a student and becoming captain of the Queen’s keelboat team. She graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering and a specialty in biomechanics at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Undaunted, she found a job with Aecon, an ONxpress partner, as a junior estimator. Leaving friends, family, and the familiar Nova Scotia behind, she drove herself to Toronto to begin her engineering career.

An energetic and productive team member, MacDonald worked on the Eglinton Crosstown LRT project, learning everything she could about construction and eventually joining ONxpress, first as an estimator, then as a member of the civil construction team.

MacDonald continues to sail competitively. She won a bronze medal in 2017 and a gold medal in 2022 in the Canada Summer Games.