Junior Giavana DiDonato Shares Insight on Electrical & Computer Engineering

Giavana sitting on a stone near the engineering building with trees behind her.

Today we feature first-generation college student Giavana DiDonato, a junior Electrical and Computer Engineering major from Washington Township, NJ (Gloucester County). Gi transfered here from Rowan College of Gloucester County after getting her associate degree. She tells us about being a woman in her field and her experience in the engineering classes at Rowan.

Tell me about being a woman in your field?

It is very rewarding to be a woman in this field because obviously it is very male dominated. From a young age I have always wanted to break barriers and break those glass ceilings. To stand and say “I am a woman in this field and I am going to tell any man that tells me otherwise that I am going to do whatever I want.” It is very nice to be able to sometimes correct them or just know that you are smarter than them in certain situations. Sometimes they think they know everything. It is very rewarding especially when you get the chance to work with other women engineers. 

Giavana standing in the middle of the engineering hallway connecting the two buildings.

There was this project I did for a satellite design elective last semester. I had a team, it was me and two other ladies who were ECEs and we had to design a sub system for a cubesat satellite. They’re 10 by 10 by 10 centimeters. This is the structure (shown below in photo) which is the outer subsystem and it houses all the other subsystems. The communication, power and everything that goes in this. So this is one of the most important pieces. We made a 3D model out of basic polymer material. We did not have enough time or resources to make one out of aluminum, which is what they would usually be made of. This one here being the first prototype there are some errors, such as I can’t open it to put other subsystems in it. But other than that we made this testing sleeve to simulate the launching apparatus so this just slips in and gets launched right into space. 

A couple years ago there was a project that a few students did who actually made one and shot it into space and we got to watch a presentation on it. It was pretty neat to learn about. Even though I am not very interested in satellites, that specific presentation and knowing that this university produced something like that and had it shot into space is so cool. 

I want to see more women in this field.

Giavana leaning against a stone with her cubesat satellite prototype next to her.

Do you have any female role models in your life?

My mom. She had her first son, my brother, when she was sixteen and she has worked her tail off her whole life. She has been at Marriott Industries for 25 years. That has inspired me to work as hard as I can. She is the reason I have even gone into this major. When I was in high school I did not know what I wanted to do because no one usually does. She was like, ‘Well you love computers why don’t you get into computer engineering.’ I knew that the new and upcoming engineering school at Rowan was so highly acclaimed I thought I might as well get into it. I had the opportunity to start off at RCGC then transfer over here and I am well on my way.

Giavana in a room sauddering a circuit board.

Can you tell me about the clinic you are in?

I am part of a hoverbike clinic. It was initially a mechanical engineering only clinic but they realized as they were creating the bike that there were a lot more electrical components that they needed so it ended up being a mechanical engineering and ECE majors’ clinic. So I am a part of the ECE team and I have been on it since last semester. This is my second semester in it. They have had tethered flight with it. They have had it go up on the air before but we had to come in and reconfigure a lot of things after the ECEs were added to the team. There were a lot of things that were wired improperly. Last semester was basically fixing everything up and making sure it would run properly. Now this semester I have been given the task of building the tachometer circuit which is a wavelength counter that is used to measure the speed of rotation of the blades that are going to lift it in the air. That is important because that stuff needs to be regulated because if we want to be able to notify the user that if the blades are not spinning fast enough you want to warn them to land before something goes wrong.

It is like a motorcycle that flies.

Giavana posing with her circuit board wearing a mask a rowan shirt.

Why Rowan?

Rowan is close to my house. I am literally ten minutes away. Not only that but the engineering program is very highly acclaimed.

There are staff members that really look out for their students especially during this pandemic. It feels good to know that they are looking out for us.

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Story and photography by: 

Stephanie Batista, sophomore Music Industry major