Brenda Bell is a Systems Architect at Rue La La, and will be speaking at our September networking event. Her passion is fashion, and she will be telling us about how she uses recent technology (think Arduinos, 3D printers, die-cutters) to breathe new life into home knitting machines manufactured back in the 1980’s.
How (and when) did you get into your current field or company?
When I was a music major at Shenandoah Conservatory, I landed a part time job in the Dean of Students’ office where I had an opportunity to work with our faculty computer geek. From there, it was a matter of reading every book I could get my hands on, taking classes wherever I could and latching myself to the coattails of anyone I thought I could learn from.
What does a typical day look like for you?
There’s no such thing [as a typical day] and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I think the one thing I love most about technology is that there are surprises around every corner. I spend most of my time building things or making things better.
What is the favorite part of your day?
Interacting with people. I love the art of collaboration, and being on a team that does it well is sort of magical.
What excites you about working in your industry?
The future. Seeing the way technology advances and evolves. Being able to learn something new every single day. Believing that nothing is impossible and that we’re only limited by our imagination.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
“If a task is once begun, never leave it ‘til it’s done. Be the labor great or small, do it well or not at all.” I’ve never been able to identify the author, but it’s the thing I remember hearing most when I was a child and it has served me well over the years.
What is your favorite part of being a woman in STEM?
Seeing the way things have changed for women since I started 30 years ago. I owe my own success to my refusal to accept barriers and I feel an overwhelming sense of accomplishment when I conquer another hurdle.
What other women inspire you?
My mother, for teaching me at a very young age that being a girl did not make me different. And my grandmother Mollie Holmes Adams, who commanded an enormous amount of respect for her wisdom, her values and her creativity.
What is something that most people don’t know about you?
My biggest regret is not being rich enough to have been a professional student.
What do you geek out about?
3D fabrication technologies make me absolutely giddy. Need a special tool? Print one!