“We Need Students to Solve Critical Problems with STEM Now and in the Future”
Diane Norris, SW Engineering Automation Architect at Broadcom Software, grew up loving science, math, and puzzles – anything to explain the world around her. She took STEAM classes in middle and high school, but they were at small, rural schools with limited resources. There wasn’t a science fair or STEAM professionals to emulate in her community. And no one suggested women could become engineers or computer scientist.
“I had no idea that building rockets, robots and software were paths open to me, and I needed a lot of luck to eventually find my way to a career in software, solving large-scale enterprise infrastructure challenges,” said Diane.
As a software engineer/ architect for 32 years, Diane makes up for this by devoting her time to mentoring students, especially young women who have a curiosity for the world around them yet lack resources to compete in STEAM or find a path to a technology career.
“We need the diversity of thought and talent to create our best STEM solutions,” said Diane. “I want to help students discover STEM, see what wonderful opportunities are within their reach, and understand that we need them to be the brainpower for solving critical problems through STEM now and in the future.”
In 2022, Diane reviewed virtual entries for the Broadcom Coding with Commitment® Special Award at the Pittsburgh Regional Science & Engineering Fair (PRSEF) held at the Carnegie Science Center. Broadcom Coding with Commitment recognizes students in grades 5-8 who combine STEAM learning with coding to solve a community problem they care about that aligns with the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Learn more about her experience below:
Can you describe your role in judging?
The task of choosing 2-4 project candidates from the abstracts was both delightful and nearly impossible. Reading through the problems that the student’s chose to address, and the creative ideas and methods they used to test their hypotheses was a welcome mental exercise and a dose of fun. Choosing 2-4 project candidates was difficult. The Broadcom Foundation’s award criteria did help as the criteria was specific enough to narrow the field of candidate projects quite a bit. Having to choose just 4 from such well thought out and executed projects was tough.
What did you like the best about volunteering as a judge?
Getting a peek into the incredible minds and talents of these students. When you are away from a school setting for a while, you forget how lively, fresh, inventive, and caring their ideas and solutions can be. What an exciting and hopeful look into our future.
What did you learn from this experience?
Some of our biggest challenges – climate change, pollution, Covid 19, telehealth, food insecurity – are also on the minds of our youth, and they are eager to be part of the solution.
Why did you choose the Broadcom Coding with Commitment winner?
The winning project was narrowly focused in scope and executed with easily available technology, but with a big potential impact for people affected by the condition and in need of diagnosis.
The solution could be especially impactful for people with limited access to doctors and hospitals. The project illustrated that you don’t have to tackle a big issue like health care access all at once. Innovation can come one step at a time.
Would you volunteer again?
Absolutely. I had such a great experience just judging the abstracts this year. I am hoping next year I will have the opportunity to interact with the students and learn more about their motivation and execution of their projects.
When the Broadcom Foundation reached out and asked Broadcom employees to volunteer, I couldn’t reply with ‘Yes’ fast enough!
Did you know that Broadcom Software invests 14% of revenue back into research and development? With such a large emphasis on innovation, we are excited to support the next generation of STEM leaders. Learn more about what it’s like to work in software at Broadcom.