Niki Taheri

Niki Taheri of Long Island is currently a senior studying Mechatronics Engineering at Vaughn College (East Elmhurst) and is currently the president of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) – Vaughn Chapter, and secretary of the Robotics Team. Mechatronics is a combination of mechanical, electrical, and computer science engineering. At Vaughn College, Taheri has held multiple executive board positions in clubs, and has been a part of the robotics team since her freshman year. She has competed in international competitions all over the United States and Mexico, and was a part of the Vaughn team that won first place in 2016 at the VEX U World Competition. Through SWE, Taheri was able to attend multiple conferences where she got to network with companies, and receive multiple job offers. Also in SWE, she got the opportunity to hold numerous STEM outreach workshops for students in the city, teaching students the basics of engineering, followed by hands-on workshops. Throughout her time at Vaughn, Taheri has published two papers, including last summer when she attended the LACCEI conference in Lima, Peru, where her published paper on VEX Robotics received third place in the student competition. She has also held two internships, the first was during the summer of her sophomore year at Con Edison as an equipment engineer intern, and the second was during the summer of her junior year at Long Island Rail Road as a project management intern. In the past three months, Taheri has received four full time offers and in December, she accepted an offer from the Volvo Group in North Carolina where she will begin work this summer.

QG: How did you get into this field that does not traditionally attract women?

NT: I got into engineering when visiting Vaughn for the first time. When I saw the robotics team and what they were doing I immediately knew that this was what I wanted to do.

QG: Why do you think there is a dearth of women in engineering and technology?

NT: I believe engineering isn’t introduced to women at a young enough age. A lot of women are discouraged by it and have no idea what engineering actually is. I personally didn’t learn about engineering till I was a senior in high school, which is almost too late.

QG: Do you think that’s changing?

NT: I definitely think this is changing, being at Vaughn I have seen a big push in introducing STEM to girls at all age levels.

QG: What are your hobbies?

NT: When I’m not in class, I’m usually either working in robotics or planning STEM workshops for Society of Women Engineers Vaughn Chapter for K- 12 students.

QG: We see you have re- ceived a lot of job offers. What was it about Volvo that attracted you?

NT: What attracted me to Volvo were the huge opportunities that they offered me. I get to travel four times internationally within my first year, while participating in a leadership program.

QG: Will you be working on self-driving cars?

NT: The Volvo Group actually works on trucks, buses, engines and construction equipment.

QG: We often lament the fact that there are no flying cars as was predicted when we were growing up. Do you think it will happen in our lifetime?

NT: I do think that in the future this may be possible, based on the technology that is already developed.

QG: What do you enjoy about Queens? Favorite places?

NT: I love the diversity of Queens; my favorite thing to do is try new food places.

QG: What will you miss about Queens when you move to North Carolina?

NT: I will miss the accessibility to anything and everything.

QG: Would you be willing to work overseas?

NT: As stated before, I will be traveling four times within my first year, which I am very excited about! I get to go to Sweden twice, France, and India.

—Annette Hanze Alberts

This column was originated in July, 2013 by Nicollette Barsamian.

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