A Woman Engineer Struggling Against the Odds My first film here, "When the Government Lied: Waco's Infrared Deception," received awards from WorldFest Houston, the Los Angeles Motion Picture Festival, and the Best Shorts Competition. Thank you!
Some people say that life is a circle; but to me, it’s more like a helix, the shape exhibited by that winding yet unsteady metal staircase we see in “The Haunting.”
I took my first step early in life, when I wanted, more than anything else, to be an actress. My mother enrolled me in drama classes at the Northridge Theater Guild, where I studied for nearly two years, and also took every drama class that Nobel Jr. High School offered at the time.
By the age of 13, my interests had changed. I no longer wished to act. I began to understand math for the first time in my life, and I planned a career in science. I studied diligently, earning straight As until a bout with high school chemistry knocked me off course. I’d had a difficult time with some of the concepts, and sought my teacher out between classes. Before I could ask my question, I noticed his eyes resting on my chest.
“You have a lot of buttons on that blouse,” he said. “That makes it harder.”
Dumbstruck, I backed away, unable to formulate my query. I told no one of the incident and struggled through the class, never asking him a question, again. My midterm grade of “B” ruined my straight-A average; and when I received a “C” as my final score, I decided to drop out of a science career path, entirely.
Yet that setback proved to be temporary. After several years of perambulations both inside and outside college—which included working as a “Kelly Girl” temp in Silicon Valley industry, studying at Oxford, and traveling to countries including England, Ireland, Greece, Israel, and Egypt, all with money I’d made as a clerk-typist, I returned to school and earned a bachelor’s degree in math.
My first job provided no path to career success, for a variety of “good reasons.” For instance, I hadn’t gone to Stanford. I held only a bachelor’s degree. I had no contacts within the government that might assist my career in a government contracting firm. And I noticed that while I received the same “A” grade, and the same number of points in a graduate class as a fellow employee already working in a discipline I’d wanted to enter, I was nevertheless turned down when I sought the firm’s more challenging work.
I returned to school to complete my master’s degree, and had the great good fortune to meet professors and students whose friendship and influence were to be lifelong. I studied remote sensing, observation of the earth from spaceborne and airborne platforms, earned the M. S., and promptly returned to industry. Within a few months, the Berlin Wall was down, the Cold War ended, and engineers with advanced degrees and decades of experience were turned out into the streets, our nation finding no further use for their professional assets.
Every time I think of that deliberate, massive waste of talent and the disruption of lives and livelihoods by a government that had, for decades, encouraged students into math and science careers, I bristle! And I note that the only film of the era that depicted, in any way, a laid-off aerospace engineer was “Falling Down,” which had about as much to do with an under-reported national tragedy occurring right before our eyes as “Alice in Wonderland” has with the opioid crisis.
Film can do a better job—of bringing important situations to light, of creating characters who are real, and not cardboard cut-outs, and of expanding the viewpoint of events—opening up the lens, if you will—to points of view that have not typically been heard. Surely an engineer or two, creating content based on first-hand experience, will be an asset in this regard.
My initial project is “When the Government Lied: Waco’s Infrared Deception,” a teaching endeavor which appears here. I have many, many stories in the on-deck circle. I am not a flash-in-the-pan.
Award of Merit: Script/Writer
VR House
Best Shorts Competition
La Jolla, CA
2022
Best Script
VR House
Vegas Shorts
Las Vegas NV
2022
Finalist
VR House
Los Angeles International Screenplay Awards
Los Angeles CA
2022
Best TV Script
VR House
Wiki Screenplay Contest
Santa Barbara CA
2022
Grand Jury Prize - Silver, Monologues and Poetry
Dani's Monologue--"No Second Chances"
Los Angeles Motion Picture Festival
Los Angeles
2022
Grand Jury Prize - Gold, Best Innovative Solution Film
When the Government Lied: Waco's Infrared Deception
Los Angeles Motion Picture Festival
Los Angeles
2022
Remi - Educational/Instructional - Adult
When the Government Lied: Waco's Infrared Deception
WorldFest - Houston
Houston
2022
Award of Recognition - Educational/Instructional/Training
When the Government Lied: Waco's Infrared Deception
Best Shorts
San Diego
2021
College
The University of Arizona
Optical Sciences
19871989
High School
Granada Hills High School
Birth City
Los Angeles, CA
Hometown
Northridge, CA
Gender
Female
Ethnicity
Ashkenazi
Eye Color
Green
Studied 20th c. English and Irish writers at Worcester College, Oxford
Dramatic training from the Northridge Theater Guild, ca. 1969-71.
Fellow of SPIE--the International Society for Optics and Photonics
Distinguished Instructor, UC Irvine Program in Optical Engineering and Optical Instrument Design
A Woman Engineer Struggling Against the Odds My first film here, "When the Government Lied: Waco's Infrared Deception," received awards from WorldFest Houston, the Los Angeles Motion Picture Festival, and the Best Shorts Competition. Thank you!