In our ongoing series, ‘One to Watch,’ we profile the movers and shakers at TI who are making a difference through their extraordinary work.

Some people just know they are going to be engineers. They were tinkerers growing up, always taking apart and rebuilding electronics and constantly fascinated by how stuff works. Nicole Navinsky is not one of those people.

Nicole was set on being a doctor because of her passion for chemistry and strong abilities in math and science. But like any good parent, her mother started doing some research about how students who excel in math and science could turn these talents into successful careers. Nicole’s mom encouraged her to look into engineering.

 “I actually didn’t have any exposure to engineering as a child until my mom did her research,” said Nicole, who today is an applications engineer for DLP front projection. “But once I found a degree at Southern Methodist University (SMU) that offered pre-med and engineering together I decided to give it a try.”

And Nicole never looked back. Over the course of the last six years, Nicole’s focus has been squarely on engineering both in the classroom and in her extracurricular activities with the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). At SMU, she worked her way up the SWE leadership chain as vice president, then president, and eventually the region conference chair while also racking up awards including the SWE Future Leader in 2010, SWE Goldman Sachs scholarship in 2011 and the SWE Region C Collegiate Emerging Leader Award in 2013. After she graduated in May 2013 with her Masters in Electrical Engineering, she added one more award to her resume – the SWE Outstanding Collegiate Member Award. Not bad for someone who just a few years earlier didn’t really know what engineering was all about.

“I realized I’ve thought like an engineer my entire life, especially when it comes to problem solving. The field has so many opportunities,” she said.

While at SMU, Nicole interned at TI as a product/test intern for High Speed Products in Analog Engineering Operations, carrying out high temperature tests on existing products to determine whether the products had good reliability at high temperatures. While she loved her co-workers and TI’s culture, she wanted to use the skills she learned as a leader with SWE in her everyday job. As Nicole reached her graduation date, she talked to TI about moving into a customer facing applications position where she could help people with their technical issues. A position was available in the DLP Front Project group, and she jumped at the opportunity.

“DLP is a cutting edge technology that can be used for more things than just projection,” said Nicole. “I love that TI gave me the opportunity to change roles after my internship. It showed they cared and wanted me to find the right fit.”

Today, Nicole works with customers in Taiwan and Japan, directly answering their technical questions while also developing application software to help customers integrate software and hardware into their products. She also has started traveling to Asia, a first for her. While the international travel is an exciting perk of the job, the opportunity for Nicole to be the best engineer she can be is why she’s happy to work for TI.

“TI is always looking for new markets and new places to grow the business. And with DLP, we’re always working on breakthrough innovations. You realize that innovation can come from anyone, anywhere, at any time,” said Nicole. “TI encourages that we make suggestions and not be afraid to ask questions.”

It is because Nicole’s mom wasn’t afraid to ask questions that she got to where she is today. At TI, we’re grateful for mothers like that!