Meet Nazanin Rastegradoost

Nazanin Rastegradoost is a Wireless Communications Specialist with Ofinno. Nazanin shared how her first experiences with astronomy in Tehran, Iran shaped her outlook on STEM and inevitably led her to pursue a career with Ofinno.

Smithsonian Science Education Center: What was your first memorable experience with STEM?

Nazanin: When I was in middle school, I was immediately attracted to an after-school astronomy club. We took trips to observatories and deserts throughout Tehran, Iran to watch meteor showers, identify constellations, and learn about the sky. We even built a tent to simulate the night sky and painted various constellations on the fabric.

How were you able to nurture your interests throughout middle and high school?

Once I was exposed to my school’s math center, and with my mom helping me solve equations, I became even more interested in science and math. I went to a great school and learned from top-level instructors, especially in mathematics. I became really interested in geography, which is used frequently in astronomy. We solved these classic geometry theorems that were challenging, but also really fun. They felt like puzzles to me, and I was determined to solve all of them.

How did your teachers, mentors, or family members help you pursue your interests? How did you decide what to pursue for your college major?

I was trying to make sense of my life as a teenager. When I was in high school, I snuck a cell phone into school and I started asking questions about how cell phones worked—it was pretty basic technology at the time. I wanted to figure out how I could talk to someone remotely at any time without using a wired connection. When I finished high school and started to decide on a college major, I selected electrical engineering because it focused heavily on math and I could study wireless communication.

At what point did you realize that you could turn your passions into a career?

When I started consulting with people about a college major, I observed a friend’s sister who was a wireless communications engineer. She traveled to different areas to solve people’s problems, and I realized that engineering could use design and math to solve real-world problems to help people.

Once I started taking the basic courses for electrical engineering, I was eager to know more. These questions led me to graduate studies and a research career. Graduate school was tough, but it was amazing to see how it changed my professional viewpoints. Seeing myself grow and learn more about solving real-world problems led me to a research career within the industry. We’re living in an ever-evolving world, especially within communications. As a wireless specialist, I can see the gaps in our connectivity and develop ideas on how to solve them.

Is there anyone that currently inspires you to continue working in this particular field?

I have the best team here at Ofinno, and they’re my main inspiration. My husband and family are proud to see me progress in this area, and their support is important to me.

Can you describe your career path that led you to working at Ofinno?

The day of my PhD dissertation defense, my professor invited a former student who started his own company. The following day after my defense, he offered me a role as an intern with Ofinno and I accepted. This allowed me to continue what I was studying in my PhD program in a more industrial way. A few months later, I started working as a full-time employee.

What does an average day look like for you?

My job entails quite a bit of reading and critical thinking about enhancements for projects. My colleagues and I have brainstorming sessions to develop strategies to solve issues within wireless communications. We try to find the most important problem and shape solutions for them in an applicable way for the real world. We patent our ideas and if it’s adopted, your idea is implemented in the device.