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Women @ Energy: Astrid Tomada

March 11, 2013 - 2:23pm


Astrid Tomada, Staff Engineer at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

Astrid Tomada, Staff Engineer at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

Astrid Tomada is a Staff Engineer at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, a position she has held since 2011. She is an expert in high-purity germanium and silicon detectors for dark matter particle and X-ray experiments, encompassing fabrication, inspection, and packaging of detectors. She has deep experience in the area of equipment quality assurance and micro-fabrication techniques. Before becoming a Staff Engineer, Astrid worked for ten years at Stanford University as a Physical Scientist Research Assistant. She is a member of the CDMS and SuperCDMS collaborations, the Stanford Nanofabrication Facility, the LCLS Detector Group, and the iEEE. She actively participated as a member of the local organizing committee for Low Temperature Detector Workshop (LDT13) which took place at Stanford University in 2009. Astrid earned her Bachelors in Physics from Santa Clara University with a minor in Computer Science, and her Master in Engineering Management and Leadership from Santa Clara University.

1) What inspired you to work in STEM?

I have always been fascinated with science in general. Since an early age I enjoyed math and science much more than humanities classes… probably because I could get a fast and gratifying result. I enjoy the challenge of finding solutions to problems. I was also fortunate to meet and have as a teacher Physics Professor Betty Young (SCU), who inspired and enabled me to purse my career.

2) What excites you about your work at the Energy Department?

As a contractor of the Energy Department, I enjoy the variety of projects I get to work on as an engineer at SLAC National Laboratory. Before coming to SLAC, I spent a decade at Stanford University under the guidance of Physics Professor Blas Cabrera in the search for Dark Matter. It is very exciting “to do” Physics rather than just study it, and DOE facilitates that.

3) How can our country engage more women, girls, and other underrepresented groups in STEM?

This is an important topic for me. I think it is still quite challenging for women to get involved in STEM work. I believe society on the whole has to evolve further in this area, although some progress has been made in recent years. I would like to see more opportunities for flexible work-hours; this would allow more women (and men!) to thrive in their careers and also have a family, rather than (almost) having to choose between the two. I also think more companies should sponsor STEM-related programs for girls and other underrepresented groups. There is a lot of untapped energy and talent in these cohorts.

4) Do you have tips you'd recommend for someone looking to enter your field of work?

I would encourage that person to speak-up in meetings when they have important input to share, to be professional, and to be well-prepared every day. I would probably suggest pursuing a PhD degree.

5) When you have free time, what are your hobbies?

I am not sure if I can call them hobbies but when I have free time I like to spend time with my toddler son, visit museums –especially modern art exhibits, and to experiment with new recipes in the kitchen.