Erika D. Rodriguez, Ph.D. is a materials research scientist at NASA Ames Research Center working on characterizing thermal protection systems (TPS) for space exploration missions. Dr. Rodriguez holds a B.S. in Engineering Science from Smith College and a Master’s and Ph.D. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from Syracuse University.
Dr. Rodriguez is an avid advocate in promoting females in the STEMs. She has been a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) for 13 years and has been the VP of Career Guidance for the SWE Santa Clara Valley(SWESCV) Section. As the VP of Career Guidance she runs the scholarship program which awards college funds to female high school and college students who are studying the STEMs.
Dr. Rodriguez has also been involved in the TechWomen program which is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. She was a cultural mentor for a Civil Engineer Emerging Leader from the Gaza Strip. During her mentorship, she gained an appreciation of the current state in Gaza Strip and what it means to be a female engineer in an oppressive country.
A female mentor once told her, “We, as female scientists and engineers, have the unforeseen duty to educate and mentor the next generation of females. If we do not, no one else will.” Through her mentorship, Dr. Rodriguez always reminds her students that if people are not laughing at one’s dreams and aspirations, then one is not dreaming and aiming high enough. She also reminds her mentees to never be afraid to share their stories. It is only then that they can be part of history.