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Zeynep Altinbas (BE CE 2012)

As a child, Zeynep Altinbas was very curious.  She disassembled electronics to see what was inside. She always wondered how computers worked and math was, and still is, her favorite subject.  Her family emphasized getting good grades and a good education.  

This led her to receiving a Bachelor’s degree in computer engineering in 2006 from Stony Brook’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.  About a year after graduating, an acquaintance of a family member suggested Zeynep apply to Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL).  While Zeynep was aware of BNL she thought one had to be a citizen to work there.  It turned out this was not true.  One of the pluses of working at BNL is that BNL partially paid for Zeynep to get a master’s degree from Columbia University in 2014.  

Zeynep (left) at a Stony Brook University job fair along with two other alumni who also work at BNL Zeynep (left) at a Stony Brook University job fair along with Jean Clifford Brutus and George Mahler (right), fellow Stony Brook alumni who work at BNL.

Today Zeynep is a hardware engineer in a small group of engineers and technicians in the Collider-Accelerator Department (CAD) at Brookhaven National Laboratory.  The CAD designs control systems that allow the accelerators at BNL to accelerate sub-atomic particles to almost the speed of light.  The particles are forced to collide with each other, enabling research scientists to study the results of these collisions and understand how matter was formed moments after the big bang.   Her group designs, modifies, tests and troubleshoots circuit boards that generate digital signals for various accelerator systems such as power supplies, control, timing, machine protection and more. Contributing to research of the unknown gives Zeynep great satisfaction.

One reason Zeynep found computer engineering attractive was that every piece of electronics has a computer inside of it, not just PCs.  Challenging and memorable courses Zeynep remembers from her Stony Brook days were computer architecture taught by Professor Mikhail Dorojevets and embedded systems courses taught by Professor  Kenneth Short.  Two strong role models were the late Dean Joan Kenny from the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences (CEAS) undergraduate office and Marianna Savoca from the Career Center on campus.  Zeynep learned many useful things from the Career Center involving mock interviews, resume workshops and one-on-one advice that she still utilizes in her career and passes on to others who are just starting.

As a student Zeynep was a member of the robotics team, the Society of Women Engineers and the CEAS Engineering Ball organizing committee.  Volunteer activities have been a big part of her life since graduation.  For many years she has participated in different outreach activities to encourage children to pursue a field in STEM, particularly young female students.  Some of these activities have been through BNL and some through Stony Brook University.  One is being a guest speaker at a WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) lecture.  Zeynep has also been volunteering at food pantries in under served New York City neighborhoods since April 2020.

With her Stony Brook education, Zeynep found a job where she can exercise that curiosity cultivated from her childhood, and provide a rewarding career path.