Profile: Mary Harris

This month, iNARTE celebrates the career of Mary Harris–EMC Engineer at SystEMC.

What is your primary area of expertise?

Both system and box level EMC, and transmission line analysis.

What prompted you to choose engineering as a career?

The challenges and excitement of creating something new. Utilizing one’s capability to manipulate physical entities (electrons) into a useful product.

The seed took a long time to sprout, but the first time I was prompted to go into engineering was in the sixth grade. I did not know what an engineer was. I finished all my math homework for the entire school year (all nine months) before Christmas. After reviewing my homework my math teacher said that I should seriously consider engineering.

In my senior year in high school I took a national mathematics exam and scored in the top five percent. Because of my score I was offered an aerospace engineering scholarship by Boston University, but decided to go into theatre at the local university. Rather than choose a minor like english or history, I opted to take science and math courses as electives. I realized that I should have been with engineering all along and made a mid-course correction and changed my major to electrical engineering.

How has iNARTE certification contributed to or influenced your career?

iNARTE certification validates you for one thing. It is proof that you possess working knowledge in your area of certification.

What advice would you give those at the beginning of their career?

Don’t be afraid or intimidated. A college degree does not mean you are an instant expert. It means you are able to learn within the field you received your degree in. The beginning of your career is the beginning of the development of your expertise.

At what moment did you decide you needed to branch out on your own?

I realized that I would never have the time to develop my own ideas as long as I worked for someone else.

How has the field changed throughout your career?

This field is young compared to many engineering specialties. I’ve seen an increased use of automation in testing. Electronic components have been designed to be faster, lighter, and smaller—requiring less power to operate, and therefore, more susceptible to EMI.