Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Profiled: Heidi Shyu, VP Corporate Technology and Research, Raytheon

Of interest from our sister-site, the Professional Women's Village, a profile of Heidi Shyu, the recently appointed Vice President, Corporate Technology and Research, of Raytheon Company.

A recipient of the 2004 Asian-American Engineer of the Year Award, among many others, Shyu describes her path to the senior circles of the industry giant, where she also serves as Chair of the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board. In a Leaders Corner Q&A from Raytheon's Technology Today, Shyu discusses her approach to "creating an enterprise-wide technology vision and direction, the importance of disruptive technologies and radical innovation, and her penchant for taking on – and reaching – 'unachievable' goals."

The piece is of real interest to those concerned with high-level discussion of innovation and leadership in technology, but IMDiversity additionally invited Ms. Shyu to write for us on a topic of strong personal concern to her in America’s New Deficit: A Shortage of Technology Specialists.

In this original op-ed, Ms. Shyu observes that what she calls a 'holistic approach' is key to solving what is becoming a critical national technologists shortage, and particularly in attracting more women and minority scientists and engineers to pursue leadership roles in the industry. Underscoring the challenges of global competition and educational differences between the U.S. and countries like China and India, the Taiwanese-American Shyu stresses the necessity of promoting science education in our schools. While this call is becoming commonplace among leaders in science and technology industries of all kinds, Shyu's prescription is not merely "more funding for more science classes," although this is important. She also calls for the use of corporate programs and the use of media targeting young people -- especially girls -- to foster a respect for scientists, who may be considered role models in other countries, while too often considered just "geeky" here in the U.S.

She recalls from her own experience:

As a young girl growing up in Taiwan, I was mesmerized by science and
mathematics. I read books on female and male scientists and they became my role models. In America, we need to do the same for our kids, especially girls.
Earmarking additional resources for students to help them discover and enjoy
math and science would make the technology fields far more appealing and not
“boring.” Children are naturally curious, so interactive explorations of
our planet and learning how things work in our solar system can create a lot of
excitement. Look at how fast digital animation has advanced in films in
just the last 10 years. We can now visualize things that were impossible
to perceive just a few years ago. Media helps to shape our lives in many
other ways, so why not in the science and engineering field?

In this, the editors found Shyu's insights in these two linked articles doubly valuable -- both their the global and Asian-specific perspectives arising from her personal background, as well as for the authority of her role at a $20.2 billion industry leader in defense and government electronics, space, information technology, technical services, and business and special mission aircraft. She has a great deal to say about how America can keep its edge as a global technology leader, and says it with great style and clarity. Check it out.