Featuring speakers from all across the Silicon Valley.

Keynote Speakers

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Dr. Sheryl Ehrman — Opening Keynote

Dean of the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering
at San Jose State University

Dr. Sheryl Ehrman is the Don Beall Dean of the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering at San Jose State University. She previously served as Keystone professor and chair of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, at the University of Maryland, College Park, having worked at that university since 1998 as a faculty member. As chair, she oversaw an expansion of tenure-track faculty, development of two new BS/MS programs, the growth of the transfer student pathway, initiation of a multidisciplinary research center for advanced battery technology, and development and implementation of strategies to engage alumni and industrial partners.

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Dr. Miri VanHoven — Closing Keynote

Associate Dean for Research of the College of Science at San Jose State University

Dr. Miri VanHoven is the Associate Dean for Research of the College of Science at San Jose State University. She previously served as a Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at San Jose State University. Her research focuses on studying the development of the nervous system and how sleep modifies neuronal connections using the genetic model organism C. elegans. She has collaborated to found multidisciplinary programs, including the SJSU M.S. in Bioinformatics and the Minor in Bioinformatics.  She has also chaired sessions for the Women in Engineering Conference on Bioinformatics (2017), Personalized Medicine (2018), and Next Generation Diagnostics (2019).

Speakers

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Ishwaki Thakkar  — Self Determination to Find Your True North

CPU Design Engineer at Intel

Ishwaki is a CPU Design Engineer at Intel currently and has almost 5 years of working experience at Intel. She graduated from San Jose State University with MS in Electrical Engineering and Digital Design as her specialization. She loves public speaking, sharpening her communication skills, and served as the President of Toastmasters Clubs at Intel for 1.5 years. She has served as WIN (Women in Intel) committee member to organize the annual conference at Intel for the past 2 years which included outreach sessions with SJSU students.

Staying always curious about how the human mind works, she engrosses herself in reading books on psychology. She loves mentoring and always finds opportunities to do her part in the community with the best she has to offer. She loves to go for a hike or a bike ride. Her biggest feats are, climbing the Half-dome which she accomplished last year and her longest bike ride is a little over 50 miles surrounding south bay. She also plays tennis, loves doing yoga, and meditates daily without missing.

Being SJSU Alumni, Ishwaki has always found her ways to stay connected to SJSU Juniors by mentoring them technically, arranging sessions with SJSU students from Intel for Soft-skills development, and mediating networking sessions. Ishwaki herself never missed SJSU Conference for Engineering day when she was in school and loved this conference to meet amazing people she aspired for who helped her build her strong roots to thrive in the industry, feels extremely fortunate to be able to give back.

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Joshua Gutierrez — Imposter Syndrome

University Specialist at Google

Joshua Gutierrez is a Google University Specialist focused on Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) across the US. Prior to Google, Joshua graduated from an HSI (CSU San Bernardino) in 2009, then taught middle school science for three years on the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico, and began his recruiting career at Teach For America in 2012, where he recruited at a variety of universities in Boston - including MIT and Boston University.
 

He joined Google in 2014, where he's maintained his focus on connecting students of color with professional opportunities. His work centers on students from underrepresented backgrounds and universities - in the hopes of finding students from communities like the one he grew up in. Joshua currently lives in Los Angeles, CA but was proudly born and raised in the beautiful desert of Barstow, CA.

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Bennie Lewis — Autonomy and AI in Space

Lockheed Martin Associate Fellow

Bennie Lewis a Scientist, Roboticist, AI Software & System Architect, and Embedded Systems Specialist at Lockheed Martin Space in Sunnyvale California. He received his Ph.D. in 2014 from the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Central Florida working in the Intelligent Agents Lab (directed by Dr. Gita Sukthankar). He received his M.S. in 2008 and B.S. in 2006 in Computer Engineering. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D.(2023) from the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Central Florida working in the Astrodynamics and Space Robotics Lab (directed by Dr. Tarek Elgohary).

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Juan Garcia-Rovetta — Technical Interview

Performace Engineering Director at VMWare

Juan has been focused on performance engineering up and down the application stack for over 25 years. He has had the opportunity to work with industry heavy-weights such as Intel, Dell, AMD, HPE, Oracle, Microsoft, AWS and others. Through his experience, Juan has developed a wide breadth of knowledge around cutting edge technologies from low level processor architecture, to database and enterprise applications, and, most recently public and private cloud technologies. At VMware for 6 years, Juan leads a team of senior level engineers located in the US, Canada, and Europe whose focus is to make VMware products fast, efficient, and scalable to meet our most demanding customers’ needs.

Juan is passionate about creating an inclusive environment at work where everybody is encouraged to bring their whole self to work. Hand in hand with his technical role, Juan also embraces VMware’s philosophy that the company can do well, AND do good for the communities in which we live, work, and play.  

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Kelly Masegian — Building Your Personal Brand

Career Counselor for Engineering and Technology Careers, Career Center at San Jose State University

Kelly Masegian is the SJSU Career Counselor for Engineering and Technology careers, Liaison to College of Engineering, and former Internship Coordinator with the Foothill/DeAnza Internship Program at NASA Ames.  She received her MS in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in Career Counseling from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, TX.  She also received a Career Development Facilitator certification from the National Career Development Association as a supplement to her degree. Kelly has a personal mission to serve as the calm in the storm for students seeking to find their place in the world.  She seeks to answer the questions that students didn't even know that they should ask. She takes joy in watching students learn, grow, and succeed.

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Donna Aaron — Belonging and Authenticity Matters

Global Diversity & Inclusion Consultant at Lockheed Martin

Donna Aaron is the Manager of Diversity & Inclusion at Lockheed Martin. She has more than 15 years of experience developing and implementing program strategies while managing all administrative tasks critical to execution. She is an innovator and change agent skilled in building relationships at all organizational levels, fostering key cross-functional partnerships. Adaptable and resourceful strategist with a proven track record of managing large-scale projects with limited resources, delivering solutions that facilitate positive change. Program Manager leveraging subject matter expertise in diversity and inclusion to build trust and engage employees.

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Anne Cesa Klein — #IAmRemarkable

Infrastructure Engineering Lead at Pure Storage

Anne Cesa Klein is an Infrastructure Engineering Lead at Pure Storage specializing in data-driven overhauls of systems and processes so they’re faster, more reliable, and more efficient. With multiple software engineering patents and a degree in computer science, she’s worked at a wide range of tech roles and companies. She leads Pure’s Women in Engineering group, facilitates #IamRemarkable workshops, mentors women and underrepresented folks, and is not just involved, but all-in committed to inclusion in engineering.

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Prof. Ahmed Banafa — 5 Hot Technologies in 2021 and Beyond

Professor for the College of Engineering at San Jose State University

Prof. Ahmed Banafa has extensive experience in research, operations and management, with a focus on IoT, Blockchain, Cybersecurity and AI. He is the recipient of Certificate of Honor from the City and County of San Francisco, Author & Artist Award 2019 of San Jose State University. He was named as No.1 tech voice to follow, technology fortune teller and influencer by LinkedIn in 2018 by LinkedIn, his research featured on Forbes, IEEE and MIT Technology Review, and Interviewed by ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, BBC, CNBC, NPR, Washington Post,  and Fox. He is a member of the MIT Technology Review Global Panel. He is the author of the books: “Secure and Smart Internet of Things (IoT) using Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence (AI)” which won 3 awards San Jose State University Author and Artist Award, One of the Best Technology Books of all Time Award, and One of the Best AI Models Books of All Time Award. His second book was “Blockchain Technology and Applications” won of One of the Best New Private Blockchain Books and was used at Stanford University and other prestigious schools in the USA.

Lunchtime Panelists

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Dr. Nik Tehrani

SME/Mentor at Plug and Play Tech Center
Vice President of Business Development and Strategic Alliances at DynoSense
Adjunct Professor at San Jose State University

Dr. Nik Tehrani is an SME/Mentor at Plug and Play Tech Center and Vice President of Business Development and Strategic Alliances at DynoSense. DynoSense is empowering people to take control of their health by providing products that enable them to read all major vital signs at home. They use AI-based data analytics to help our users make healthy lifestyle choices. Their leading-edge technology is helping them to grow in the U.S. and Asia ahead of projections.

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Khanh Tran

IS CMMC and Global Services at Boeing
Executive Director at SASE Pro Charleston

As a SASE leader, Khanh is a relentless advocate for collegiate and young professionals to grow and succeed in the field of STEAM. Khanh was previously on the Board of Directors for the Lowcountry Autism Foundation and a past President for BAPA (Boeing Asian Professional Association). Today, Khanh puts all his focus on SASEProCHS to help build STEAM leaders of tomorrow with focus in diversity and inclusion.
 

Khanh has been in the aviation industry for over 20 years and currently works as an IS CMMC and Global Security Analyst for The Boeing Company. He has a BS in Aeronautics from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and is part of the covenant Alpha Sigma Lambda Society of ERAU.

 

On his spare time, he is a relentless advocate for neurodiversity, cultural diversity and inclusion. “My mission is to create a neurodiverse and inclusive workspace for young professionals on the autism spectrum.”

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Blanca Sanchez Cruz

Program Administrator at Valley Water

Blanca Sanchez-Cruz is an experienced program manager with over 15 years in access, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) program development and implementation. Before joining Valley Water, she was the Director of Engagement and Access Services for Engineering at San Jose State University. In this role, she led the implementation of equity and access programs like MEP, Engineering Ambassadors, National Action Council for Minoritized in Engineering (Block) Scholarship, and engineering-affiliated organizations grants program. Campus-wide, she was active with the African-American and Latinx student success taskforces and the Chicano/Latino Faculty & Staff Association. She started the Women in Engineering Conference and mentored the student leaders of BASE, SOLES, & SWE through the planning and establishing of the Conference for Engineering Diversity.

Blanca was recently promoted to Program Administrator for Valley Water's newly formed Office of Racial Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (REDI).  The purpose of REDI is to lead Valley Water's response to individual and systemic racism by taking meaningful action, internally and externally, to address the impacts of acts of prejudice, abuse of power, racial bias, gender or gender identity bias, racism, and barriers to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Blanca is also a member of two ERGs, Women of Water (WOW), and was appointed parliamentarian for the Organization of Latino Affairs (OLA.) She joined Valley Water in 2019 as a Public Information Representative with the Office of Civic Engagement.