In this interview, Mary Ann Maher, founder and CEO of SoftMEMS, talks to AZoSensors about Women in Sensor Engineering (WISE).
Please could you tell us a little bit about WISE - Women in Sensors Engineering.
We have been working with the WISE program for several years at Sensors Expo, and we've had an event every year for the past couple of years that have generated great interest among both women and men that have attended. We were pleased to see that men brought their daughters to the event, and we think it's a very positive thing for both women and men to promote women in science and engineering and to help women in their careers.
What does the WISE program involve this year at Sensors Expo?
We're going to have a panel of some very talented and diverse women. I’ll be moderating the panel, and then we're going to have a really special component of the program where we have topic tables, and the audience members can come and discuss important questions of interest to women and their careers. We did that last year and it was very successful. The panellists would each head up a table, and we had a lot of lively discussion at the topic tables – it was very, very interactive.
What topics will you be discussing this year?
We’ll be discussing a pretty wide range of topics around how to succeed in your career, challenges we've faced, and basically giving advice. Some of us have been around for a while in the industry, so we want to share our experience and help others. It's time to give back for those of us who have been helped by the women before us.
Could you provide us some information about your own company?
I started my company in 2004, so I have been around for a while. My company supplies software and consulting services to companies that are creating sensor-based products, so they might be designing the sensor or incorporating sensors into a larger system.
How do your solutions face the upcoming design and manufacturing challenges with sensors?
My company has evolved with my customers' needs. In the very beginning with MEMS (Microelectromechanical Systems) we were trying to help people get their devices working and analyze individual devices, but now the challenges are changing. They're more at the system level, they're more about incorporating MEMS devices into flexible substrates and flexible form factors, and so we're kind of changing with the times.
We still have customers that are innovating in the fabrication process of sensors and using new materials, but our customers are also asking us to look at higher level systems issues, and integration of new types of software.
What can attendees expect from your symposium session at Sensors Expo?
I'm going to be focusing on commercialization issues, because I think a lot of the panellists will be focusing on technology, but my area of interest and something I think is really important is all the things you have to do to commercialize this technology and these flexible systems. So, I'm going to focus on what does it take to get a product out there.
What’s the best thing about the WISE program for you, personally?
The fun thing for me is to meet my peers. It's been really great to get to know these women, and we're all so different. What was interesting last year, is that we are very different women, and to see the diversity in personalities and approaches is fascinating, but we all have a shared love for science and engineering, so that's really, really cool.
About Mary Ann Maher
Dr. Mary Ann Maher is the founder and CEO of SoftMEMS. She recieved her PhD from Caltech in 1989 in the area of semiconductor device modeling, developing a new charge-based transistor model. She then studied at the CSEM in Switzerland, before working for Tanner Research, where she became the Software Architect and Director of Advanced Products. Later she worked for MEMSCAP as their CTO and General Manager and Executive Vice President of the Design Automation Business Unit. In 2004, Mary Ann founded SoftMEMS, and now serves as their CEO.
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