Expanding the Horizons of Technology – and the Future of Girls in STEM
Cliodhna Ni Scanaill, manager of the VPU Abstraction Layer team at Movidius, an Intel Company, shares her journey from PhD intern to advocate for female innovators.
I joined Intel as an intern, while I was studying for my PhD in Biomedical Electronics. It was then that I saw the scope of projects Intel was working on, and the potential of having the resources to pursue deep research and development. After earning my PhD, I worked in Intel’s Digital Health Group and Intel Labs Europe; researching wearable, clinical, and Internet of Things technologies. I co-authored a book on sensor technologies and submitted several patents based on my research in these domains.
After 10 years of working in research, I was looking for a new challenge. I moved to the Artificial Intelligence Product Group when Intel acquired Movidius three years ago. Movidius is an Irish startup that develops a new class of devices called vision processing units (VPUs) for performing computer vision at the edge. It’s a very exciting product and it’s great to work in a group that does everything from hardware design of the chip all the way up to the software release to the customer. I'm the manager of a six-person software engineering team that develops software to interface to the Intel® Movidius™ Vision Processing Units (VPUs). In this role, I interact with people who develop the software on it and the people who develop software to use the Intel Movidius VPU for their applications.
One of the things I’ve learned during my time in Intel is the value of multidisciplinary teams and teamwork. In Digital Health, I worked in teams that included clinicians, ethnographers, designers, engineers, and data scientists; everyone brought their own insight into projects and the projects we delivered benefited sharing these perspectives and questioning our own ways of doing things. I try to bring this experience into any project I work on now – everyone’s input is valuable, regardless of their background or experience.
I like that Intel is so pro-active in the area of STEM education, particularly for diverse and disadvantaged communities. I’ve volunteer in Intel programs such as Mini Scientist, Young Scientist and Cool Jobs; I’ve trained teachers to teach programming; and I mentor Women in Technology scholars and teachers who intern here for the summer. It’s clear to see the benefit of these types of programs, not only for the participants themselves but also the people they influence to consider a career in STEM.
At Intel, there are lots of opportunities to continually learn and move. Although, I’ve been in Intel for over 13 years, I have worked in health, IoT, and AI. I advise the people I mentor to always question their career – does the work interest and challenge them? If not, there are lots of opportunities here to upskill and find a new challenge. Tech is such a broad field that there is a job there for everyone.
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