Stories from the IA Community

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Stories from IA Community

Maral Mesma Khosroshahi

Maral Mesma Khosroshahi

Tell us about your contributions or service to America:

I am the founder and president of Iranian Women in Computing (IranWiC) which is a non-profit organization and one of the AnitaB.org affinity communities.

On October 2015, during the Grace Hopper Conference which is the biggest gathering for women in Tech (with 20K attendees), I decided to look for the Iranians attending the conference. I emailed every Iranian I found as an attendee and asked them to gather at a balcony in the conference venue. Around 50 people showed up there and that was the moment IranWiC’s idea was initiated. After negotiating with AnitaB.org, IranWiC was founded with a mission to engage, connect and support Iranian women in computing, empower them to fulfill their best potential as an individual and a community and improve their impact on the US Tech industry. After three years of working toward this mission, IranWiC received the top community award among more than 30 affinity communities during GHC18.

At IranWiC, we pursue our mission by building a powerful community of Iranian women in computing around the US and we have introduced several programs. We have a peer mentorship program where we have already matched more than 30 mentors and mentees in the past two years. We have been holding several events during GHC and other major diversity conferences throughout the year and we have initiated a #TogetherWeThrive series from 2018 where we collaborate with other Iranian and non-Iranian communities toward our mission. We had an honor to work with Iranian Googlers ERG, IACP and Pakistani Women in Computing as part of this program.

IranWiC envisions a world where every person interested in Technology can have an equal chance to pursue their passion regardless of their gender and nationality. Particularly, we look upon a bright future for Iranian women in computing in the United States where they can have a major impact on the US Tech industry and I am beyond honored and grateful that a fantastic team of successful Iranians are working hard and generously to make this community achieve its goals.

Tell us about the work you do or your education:

I am an AI Software Engineer and Deep Learning researcher at Microsoft where I am working on improving the efficiency and performance of deep learning models as part of the Microsoft Azure team. Before that, I was working as an Imaging Scientist at Konica Minolta Laboratory, USA and was involved in different Computer Vision and Machine Learning projects such as cancer detection and handwriting recognition. I have received my Masters and PhD from the ECE department of the Illinois Institute of Technology in 2012 and 2017, respectively, focusing on pedestrian detection for intelligent vehicles and received my B. Sc. in Electrical Engineering from Sharif University of Technology in 2010.

Tell us about some life lessons you would like to share with your fellow citizens:

As a young immigrant who went through a lot of challenges during my immigration journey, I have learned that no matter how successful you are, the most valuable thing you can have in your life is a good support network, a network that cares about you and your future, supports you in your ups and downs and helps you overcome the challenges.

Tell us about any personal memory you would like to share:

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As an Iranian American, what message would you like to convey to your fellow citizens:

The Iranian-American community is one of the most individually successful immigrant communities with the most difficult path to settlement in this country. I believe in the power of the community and thriving together. I think, every problem and challenge we face these days has a solution if all of us join hands as a community, acknowledge and tolerate our differences, invest our time, knowledge and experience and work together toward a brighter future for ourselves and our next generations.

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Stories from IA Community

Amin Ghafooripour

Amin Ghafooripour

Tell us about your contributions or service to America:

1- I am the Founder and President/CEO of my company "Padir Consulting Engineers", delivering building design services to people and I have created some job opportunities. Also, I have tried to hire the Iranian-Americans and newcomers in the company to help them get involved with the engineering community. I have the vision of being diverse in my hiring even among Iranian-Americans with different religious and ethnic backgrounds. (WWW.Padir.US)

2- I am volunteering in several organizations such as ASCE/SEI (Structural Engineering Institute). I am the director of the outreach program at SEI San Francisco Chapter. We deliver presentations to the schools and younger generations to encourage them for more engagement in the engineering area as part of the sustainable growth of the economy requirements. http://asce-sf.org/branches-institutes-and-committees/sei/ more detail about our activities in 2017: https://mailchi.mp/ad8a0ac6ccbc/sei-sf-newsletter-volume-2-number-2

3- I am an academic faculty at Santa Clara University and I usually support my students through engaging them to my research projects and encourage them to work on the publication of a paper that will help them build their future careers. https://www.scu.edu/engineering/faculty/ghafooripour-amin/

4- I am the chair of the scientific committee in the 5th International Orthotropic Bridge this year. I tried to support fellow expert citizens by inviting them to the conference and create some opportunities to give them resolution. http://www.5obc.org/ and http://www.5obc.org/scientific-committee/

5- I am the main contact person in the US on behalf of IFIA (International Federation of Inventors' Association) in Geneva for the Silicon Valley International Inventors Festival in Santa Clara in June. My role is to invite experts to the festival. Last year I was the keynote speaker. http://www.sviif.com/jury-board/ ; http://www.sviif.com/general-information/ and http://www.sviif.com/team/amin-ghafooripour/

I have contacted some Iranian-American Inventors to the festival.

6- I am the registered Boys Scout of America Merit Badge Counselor helping scouts on their merit badges and teaching at the University of scouting as a volunteer. I was a boys scout before the revolution when I was a kid and so I had that background to help me getting my adult registration.

Tell us about the work you do or your education:

Amin Ghafooripour, PhD., PE, M.ASCE, SEI, SEONC, AWC, ASEE, UIA - Dr. Amin Ghafooripour is a faculty at Santa Clara University and the president of Padir Consulting Engineers in California, the United States of America.

He got his Bachelor in Civil Engineering, Master in Structural engineering, and Ph.D. in structural engineering and vibrations from different Universities in Iran.

He might be the only Ph.D. graduate from Iran that was teaching at British Universities and he is teaching at school and Universities in the US.

Also, he is the Director of Outreach at ASCE SEI San Francisco Chapter and member of the SEAONC Continuing Education committee.

His academic and professional projects have taken him to 24 different countries in Europe, Middle East, Asia, and Japan and have earned him nearly 25 years of experience in teaching, researching, and engineering design in the United States, United Kingdom, Netherland, Norway, Denmark, Iran, and UAE.

Dr. Ghafooripour is a member of American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), Structural Engineers Association of Northern California (SEAONC), SEAOC, SEI, AWC, ASEE, and UIA, Amin is also an ORCID and Thomson Reuters registered researcher.

He is experienced in guiding the research projects, mentoring, and instructing undergraduate, graduate, and professional students, teaching courses in a wide range of structural/civil engineering topics. His academic and professional design background has given him valuable insight into the irregular structural problems of the building and industrial projects. Dr. Ghafooripour has received several awards and certifications for his professional design work and academic research and management from US, UK, Netherland, Denmark, Norway, and Iran, including the Excellent Academic Management and Researcher of the Year awards. He has patented four inventions and published over 90 papers.

Tell us about some life lessons you would like to share with your fellow citizens:

I had an interview about this with SEI and the full interview can be found in the following link. I have the following highlights below:

http://asce-sf.org/branches-institutes-and-committees/sei/ Vol2-#2 2018 : https://drive.google.com/file/d/1V1Hqxu0an4ovDkvGZ-wEXzf9IdhsEQHo/view

The interviewer called me: "Newton’s 3rd Law in Action"

I had an interview about this with SEI and the full interview can be found in the following link. I have the following highlights below:

http://asce-sf.org/branches-institutes-and-committees/sei/ Vol2-#2 2018 : https://drive.google.com/file/d/1V1Hqxu0an4ovDkvGZ-wEXzf9IdhsEQHo/view

The interviewer called me: "Newton’s 3rd Law in Action"

Below is the answer to two questions that are what I learned from my life:

Anna: What sort of extracurricular activities do you participate in?

Amin: I love challenges: First I got a Diving license, and later a certification for the Shark Diving. Then, because I like driving, I got a certificate for the Desert Dune Driver License. And now I am working on my FAA pilot certificate, which I will use to fly drones for inspection of projects, especially for roofs and top of chimneys in small residential building. I have [also] started to use the robot to inspect the crawlspace successfully.

Anna: In addition to being paid, how else has your career created value in your life?

Amin: I believe we have to be creative, help people, and create ethical values in our job environment. In fact, money is the last thing that is important since it will come either way if we work correctly. We may work adequately and professionally, but [still] not be able to impact our community and society. I think when other people [view] engineering community they believe that we are classified among the smartest people. So, with this influence, we must give ethical values, and of course, we will receive more. It is the law of the universe, written in the scripture, and it’s Newton’s third law!

Anna: What are the main lessons you’ve learned in life?

Amin: Not to judge; think globally, act locally to influence the community; dream big and believe that nothing is happening by accident. In fact, we may see random processes in our life since we see a small window of a process. We try to expand a theory based on that observation, but in fact, it is not

random/accidental since in most cases we may be able to find the rule for that process. So, seeing a small window of something does not allow me to judge. That is why I think, I shouldn’t say anything and judge before doing further studies.

Tell us about any personal memory you would like to share:

I immigrated two times. I think immigration is like a resurrection! You will die in one country and resurrect in another country. You have experience from the past, but it may not work for the new environment. So, technically, you are an adult since you are; you are like a child [in] that you have to start

from scratch. I think I was very successful and confident to pass all these changes quickly and embrace the new home and being successful in it. Today and in less than a few years I am the CEO of my company, and I hired people as a job creator. Also, I taught at the school which is a complicated job (more complicated than teaching at the University) and later I have started teaching at the Universities.

As an Iranian American, what message would you like to convey to your fellow citizens:

I believe, an immigrant first dies when leaves the native country and resurrect and born again in the new home country. It means conversion from one state to another state just to your physical body. However, every single aspect of our life is changing. We need to do everything and learn again like a child and to be mature. The fact is what we have learned in the native country is classified as our knowledge that may or may not be compatible with the new country. I was lucky because, in the world of engineering, we learned the same material as we have in the US because the third world countries are not the source of science and technology and we had to keep up with the western countries as the source. But for some people, the situation is not the same, so they may need to go to school again. The immigrant may have a chance just to use some part of his/her knowledge, and that’s it! Consequently, the immigrant needs to learn behavior, skills, culture, communication skills, job preparations, social skills, geography and politics of the country to be able to communicate with people and to become an ordinary person and not being an alien between them. It is time-consuming, but don’t be upset, all things are possible if you believe.

Considering all the above, and having a short time after being reborn in the new country, the question is how? And the answer is:

Love to learn, do not stick to the past (remember, it is a resurrection), work hard, study hard, from the bottom of your heart wants to be an American then we can concise the transfer time to a minimum. It is like the science fiction movies that transform a person to another planet.

Then consequently, we can create honors for Iranian-Americans that belongs to the world and the Iranian community.

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