Barbara Grant

Barbara Grant - 2019 SPIE Women in Optics Planner

Grant Drone Solutions, LLC, USA

Barbara Grant

Country of Birth: USA
Country of Residence: USA
Educational Background: BA in Mathematics, San Jose State University; MS in Optical Sciences, The University of Arizona
SPIE Senior Member


My primary motivator was the time and place in which I grew up — Southern California during the height of the Space Race in the 1960s and early 1970s. I still remember my father waking me so I could watch the Apollo 8 liftoff and how exciting it all was! Even so, I didn’t begin my technical studies in earnest until I was 22, having taken time off from school to work, travel, and study English literature at Oxford.

I teach, write books, articles, and other works for publication, analyze digital imagery, and try to promote sound science by advocating for standards and technical discipline to be applied in fields such as law enforcement and precision agriculture. I believe this is particularly important today with the explosion in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), whose cameras form the subject of my recent book.

I began my career in a Silicon Valley firm that more resembled the government, in which an individual’s school, degrees, and in some cases, family ties counted more than initiative and drive. With a BA in math, I wasn’t able to compete, even though I was taking graduate courses and doing well in them. I would always be the computer support girl, unhappily programming away for the big guys, one of whom mentioned that our project lacked a good book on radiometry. Twenty years and an MS later, a colleague gave me his work to complete. Nearly four years after that, The Art of Radiometry was published, and I believe it is considered a good book.

I wish someone had schooled me on entrepreneurship. Knowing how to identify and market a good technical idea that is also profitable would have helped me greatly during my career.

Be aware that your STEM degree does not condition you for a specific role throughout your career. It is a starting point allowing you eventual choice from many alternatives. Women with STEM degrees are particularly well suited for roles in marketing and management, as they understand the technical product in a way that finance or human resources personnel do not.

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