Nada O'Brien

Nada O'Brien - 2017 SPIE Women in Optics Planner

Technical Manager
Oculus Research at Facebook, USA

Nada O'Brien

Country of Birth: Lebanon
Country of Residence: USA
Educational Background: BS in Chemical Engineering, Trine University; MS and PhD in Materials Science and Engineering, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee

I grew up in Beirut, Lebanon, during the civil war of the 70’s and 80’s where school could be suspended for months at a time. I found a lot of comfort in studying ahead in math and physics, which gave me some order and predictability amid the chaos outside. My father also inspired me. I used to help him with his import and export business by writing business letters. While he did not go to college, he was very knowledgeable about a lot of subjects that I sought his help with. He encouraged and supported me to pursue engineering. I strive to make him proud every day.

At Oculus, I work on cutting-edge technologies in head mounted displays to help make the world more open and connected. In my previous role at Viavi Solutions, I defined the product roadmap and go-to-market plan for an ultra-compact near-infrared spectrometer (the MicroNIR) business. The MicroNIR is used in pharmaceutical manufacturing and agricultural applications in quality control. I worked with research and development, sales, manufacturing, external collaborators, and customers to grow the business.

I would tell young women interested in STEM to focus early on getting a solid technical foundation in your education, however don’t lose sight of gaining wellrounded non-technical characteristics. Read up on emotional intelligence and leadership. Build a wide network of people you can call upon to collaborate, help others, build your own personal brand that you’re comfortable with.

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