A Woman’s Journey to Become a Broadcom Inc. Engineer

“Coding is my biggest passion and a great way to be creative.” Sarah Catania learned to code in middle school…

A Woman’s Journey to Become a Broadcom Inc. Engineer

Success Stories

“Coding is my biggest passion and a great way to be creative.”

Sarah Catania learned to code in middle school in the MESA program, a nationally recognized program that promotes student diversity in STEM. Today, Sarah is a newly minted R&D Engineer working at Broadcom Inc., a global technology leader.

Sarah was first introduced to computer science and engineering by participating in MESA’s National Engineering Design competition with her sister and friends. Their high school team worked on designing and prototyping an electromechanical prosthetic arm for 4 years, winning second place at the National Level in 2016. Sarah learned to code two years into the competition when a microcontroller and coding became a required element in the MESA competition to help her team. This exposure of both circuit design and coding sparked the curiosity for learning that she continues seeking to challenge herself today.

“I originally wanted to be a doctor, but because of this project, I chose to study electrical engineering”

Sarah who went to Orange Coast Community College

“I’m a first-generation student; college and everything associated with my major was new to me,” said Sarah. “There was a learning curve as I began to be exposed to electrical engineering and computer science, but the challenge of expanding my use of coding was always especially exciting for me.”

“As a supporter of the MESA program through our FabLab partnership with the Henry Samueli School of Engineering at the University of California in Irvine, Broadcom Foundation has watched young people like Sarah flower from their early exposure to STEM and coding. Sarah’s project-based experience through MESA, and her work with FABLab are at the heart of the foundation’s mission,” says Paula Golden, President of Broadcom Foundation. “It is a thrill to have Sarah represent the next generation of women engineers at Broadcom Inc., and I am so excited to watch her growth and develop as an innovator there.”

When Sarah transferred to the University of California Irvine (UCI), she decided to double major in electrical and computer engineering.  

“I chose to join Broadcom because while I like the biomedical field and the patient focus, I wanted to experience embedded programming and the implementation of hardware basics,” Sarah said. “This role gives me familiarity with packaging and designing semiconductors for a wide range of applications that also help people. My goals are to keep programming and learn as much as I can about hardware and software.”

Inspiring Youth to Code

“Sarah has a natural ability to channel her experiences and find ways to get students excited about coding and engineering,” said Marvin Maldonado, Undergraduate Programs Lead for the Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) program and Sarah’s mentor while serving as Director of UCI’s STEM Education & Pathways. Marvin chose Sarah to lead foundation-supported programs called APPCamp and FABCamp that give underserved students training in coding skills building and app design.

“It was really inspiring for me to see my students, especially young women, use creativity to solve a problem and to learn that failure was a part of the process,” said Sarah. “Our team always taught FAIL as the acronym for first attempt in learning. Computer science is a great way to be innovative and learn from each of your attempts. There are many ways to solve a problem, but how can you make your solution simple and just as efficient?”

Sarah also helped develop Spanish coding projects for "Cultura con Raspberry Pi" or Culture with Raspberry Pi funded by Broadcom Foundation. She translated and taught classes in Spanish to both students and parents. She created a project called “Family Tree” where students created a mini animation of their family using the block-based programming platform, Scratch.

"This project held special significance for me as I drew inspiration from my personal background due to my mom being a schoolteacher and Spanish being my first language,” said Sarah. “This became a way to give back and motivate both students and parents to further explore the STEM field.”

“Students like Sarah open minds for both students and parents that female Latina students can excel in leadership and mentorship roles,” said Marvin. “To see Sarah graduate and land at Broadcom made me so proud, and I shared tears of joy with her mom too!”