Posted May 20, 2008

Engineering with an entrepreneurial spirit

Bachelor of science: electrical engineering

When a company like The Vanguard Group makes you a job offer, and tells you to take your time in making a decision, it is usually hard to turn down. But if, like Ailar Javadi, you have your mind set on starting your own electrical engineering firm, it is really not a decision at all.

Javadi, who will receive her bachelor of science in electrical engineering and serve as the College of Engineering’s student commencement speaker on May 22, interned with The Vanguard Group as a tool support analyst last summer. The Iran native, who had earlier received a Vanguard Women in IT scholarship, impressed company officials enough that they offered her a position in their Technology Leadership Program.

“When Vanguard makes you an offer, usually you have to get back to them with your decision within a few weeks,” she said. “But they gave me an offer in September and said, ‘Whenever you make your decision — even if it’s in December — give us a call.’

“I didn’t accept the offer because it was in information technology and I want to get more into engineering,” she said. “From engineering you can always go into IT, but it is very tough going from IT into engineering.”

Javadi, who has a 3.91 grade-point average, said she hopes to find a job at a small engineering company and work for at least one year to gain some experience and then decide on her future, either going on to graduate school or realizing her ultimate goal of starting her own electrical engineering business.

Photo by Ryan S. Brandenberg/Temple University
Ailar Javadi hopes to combine her engineering knowledge and entrepreneurial spirit to eventually realize her ultimate goal of starting her own electrical engineering business. Javadi will receive her bachelor of science in electrical engineering and serve as the College of Engineering’s student commencement speaker on May 22.

It shouldn’t come as a shock that Javadi — who speaks English, Spanish, Turkish and Farsi — has such an entrepreneurial side.

Two years ago, she mentioned to Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Robert Yantorno that she was interested in getting more involved in business and venturing out of engineering a little.

Yantorno teamed her up with three seniors who were developing a portable cardiac monitoring device as part of their senior design project. The group entered and won the grand prize in the Fox School of Business’ ninth annual Business Plan Competition. She entered the competition again this year with a plan for motorcycle brakes and became a finalist.

“It was a great experience,” Javadi said. “I had never done a business plan before, so I learned a lot. I’m really glad I did it.”

Javadi is also very grateful to Yantorno for his mentorship.

“Dr. Yantorno has been helpful in so many ways, not just intellectually,” Javadi said. “I had a class with him and he would often meet with me in his office to discuss my future. We developed a great mentoring relationship.”

The success that Javadi, 25, showed in the business competitions has also been demonstrated through her leadership within the College of Engineering.

She established the first Women in Engineering student branch affiliation in the Philadelphia section of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, served as chair of the student branch of IEEE and was an IEEE student branch mentor. She has also co-authored two papers with faculty members and is a member of Eta Kappa Nu, the electrical and computer engineering honor society.

None of this would have happened, however, if Javadi had stuck with her original plan.

Born in the Azerbaijan region of northwestern Iran, she grew up in Tehran and attended three years at Azad University of Tehran studying computer software engineering. But in July 2003, at age 21, she moved to Philadelphia with her mother.

“Originally, when I was coming here, my plan was to go back to Tehran to finish school and get my degree,” Javadi said. “But once I arrived here, I decided to stay and start over, so I never went back to finish.”

Because she grew up in Iran, one might have expected her to look very unfavorably on the United States, but Javadi said that perception is more of a media creation.

“In Iran, there are movies from the U.S. that you are able to watch, there are also satellites which tune into the U.S. television programs. In general you can gather lots of general information about the U.S., so I was very familiar with what to expect when I came here,” Javadi said. “Also, all of my mom’s brothers in addition to her parents were here since before I was born and we were always in contact with them. They have been very supportive of me and my family and I am very grateful to them.”