Madeline Vega’s STEM education was rooted in childhood. By the 5th grade, she knew she wanted to become an engineer. Now she is part of the team working on Power systems that run Watson. Read her story here.
When I was a kid, every night before going to bed I would ask my dad, a science teacher, a question about nature or how things worked, and he would explain things until I would fall asleep. I don’t remember all the answers, or all my specific questions. But I remember the feeling of learning, and how comforting and exciting it was to learn new things.
Those nights of questions-and-answers had an impact. By the time I was in the 5th grade, I knew I was going to be an engineer, even though I wasn’t completely sure what that meant. My parents, both teachers, would always encourage me to learn and to do more, so I did.
I’ve had the great opportunity here at IBM to grow in my career and to work on some amazing technical innovations. From IBM p650 which was the first system I ever worked on, doing system bring-up. I remember the day the system was available in the market, it was one of the happiest days, and for each new server I work on I still love those days! To the IBM p750, which was my first job as system chief engineer, and was the platform used to run the game-changer, Watson. At the time, it was a big system of about 90 p750 servers in 10 racks with high speed networking.
I vividly remember sitting inside the IBM Cafeteria, with many of my colleagues, for three days watching the Jeopardy! game, and cheering for Watson, and just thinking “the world is watching us… we have to win!”
And we were SO proud that Watson, running on Power, won but also proud that we had launched something much more powerful that we knew would help change the world.
This was the early beginnings of Cognitive Systems, and now I am thrilled to be working on new emerging memory technologies and on the next generation of Power, which to me is all about getting data closer to the processing, so that our clients can get insights and make better decisions faster.
I think about how I learned when I was a kid, with my dad “feeding me data,” and now I see how fast my 5-year-old daughter learns, and I am very excited about the impact of Cognitive systems and solutions as well as the cloud platform that we are building to serve clients today and for the future. This is our biggest challenge yet, and our greatest opportunity, to be the essential architecture and platform for the next generation of computing. And I am extremely proud and excited to be part of the team contributing to this effort.
Madeline Vega is a Senior Technical Staff Member for IBM Power Systems Development
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