How I became a techie: Frances Chen

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How I became a techie: Frances Chen

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"I wasn't afraid of any math or science problem." Read how Frances became a techie at @Qualcomm_GA #STEM
Tuesday, March 1, 2016 - 12:00pm

CAMPAIGN: Inclusion and Diversity


“I wasn’t afraid of any math or science problem.” —Frances Chen

My interest in math and science was definitely influenced by my family. I think one of the earliest memories I have is sitting on my dad’s lap and pointing out the Sigma sign in his book. Three generations of women from my family either studied or worked in science and engineering fields. My grandma received a degree in electrical engineering from one of the oldest universities in China. My mom studied theoretical physics. And my sister had a biostatistics degree from Berkeley, and she worked in that area as well as the computer engineering field.

I always thought, ‘Oh I can do this.’ I know my mom can solve this. And then you know, somebody in my family has done this before. So I wasn’t afraid of any math or science problem. So I thank them for that.

My first programming experience happened when I was in middle school during summer camp. I didn’t really know anything about it before. So I coded a program to make the printer print a panda.

At that time, the printers were still, you know, the click, click, clank, click type—not the laser. Then I saw the thing typing on the printer, and I saw the panda come out from the roll of paper. That was a lot of fun and an eye-opening experience for me. I started to realize I could really direct a machine to do something I wanted. That’s how I got interested in the computer science field.

Frances Chen is director of engineering at Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., specializing in software development for wireless systems. Over the past 20 years, she has worked on every stage of the wireless data evolution. She loves solving problems and figuring out what makes machines tick.