Being wildly fascinated by the world around you can heighten your search for knowledge and purpose. Translating that fascination into a unique career path takes grit, determination, and opportunity. When it comes to engineering these are the qualities that have taken Melissa on a journey to not just find her career, but to empower the people around her to see connection in a new way. Applying her own lens to everything she does and carving her own path – to inclusivity and to opening a door for understanding how it all works.

Visualize something you can’t touch

We all have that person that comes to mind immediately when asked about who lit the spark in our imagination of what we could do with our one big life. For Melissa Mair, Radio Access Network (RAN) Design Engineer, the first spark came from a high school teacher – who blew her mind with talk of how momentum, torque, and inertia help us understand and anticipate exactly how objects move here on earth. This was the start of a lifelong pursuit of recognizing, visualizing, and measuring the things we can’t see, but use to work and communicate in our everyday lives. Her commitment to becoming a scientist was born.

Kicking off her engineering pursuits with a stint in Mechanical Engineering – Melissa was building. Building her knowledge of how mechanical engineering can touch every facet of your life – from pipes and water flows, to building structures and machines.

Opportunity came knocking in the form of our Technology Development Program. With the voracious spirit Melissa carries with her everywhere she goes, she was all in. Meeting engineers who were quick to bring their work to life – she had a front row seat to propagation maps, modeling, and attempts to verify this strange energy that was invisible but did in fact exist. Here’s where things got exciting – Melissa meet RF, and RF get ready for Melissa.

It’s time for an explanation pause:

RF (Radio Frequency) =  Electromagnetic radiation that consists of waves of electric and magnetic energy moving together (i.e., radiating) through space at the speed of light. Radio waves and microwaves emitted by transmitting antennas are one form of electromagnetic energy. They are collectively referred to as “radiofrequency” or “RF” energy or radiation.

RAN Engineer = Radio Access Network Engineer – electrical engineers focused on how to manipulate radio frequency – typically developing, designing, testing and deploying cell towers with antennas and radios that utilize RF to communicate with devices – for example (wink wink) – telecommunications.

Melissa Mair = newly reinvigorated engineer who has just discovered that there is an entire sector of engineering that is rooted deeply in one of her greatest passions – visualizing and manipulating the invisible.

Back to our original programing.

With a quick change of her major, straight over to Electrical Engineering, things started to click. However, no worthwhile pursuit is without its challenges. With many office hours and long nights of studying, the undeterred Melissa was still finding her footing but waited for the magic. She started to see similarities between the way that water flows through pipes and the flow of electricity through wires – utilizing something she could easily visualize to help visualize something she could not. Welcoming the feeling of being wildly fascinated by this new understanding, Melissa wrapped up her degree just in time for a career of electromagnetic radiation, frequency, amplitude, wireless, speed, oh my!

Connecting the dots

“The way you communicate your story, especially a technical story, matters,” Melissa shares.

So where do we cross paths today with Melissa and this specialty niche? Let’s just say, “when an Engineer explains how telecommunication works to an audience of non-technical people,” she’s there. What sets her apart? She knows all the graphs, charts, and data are not going to make a dent if the story doesn’t resonate. That’s where the concept of impactful engineering becomes a key component. Engineering isn’t just about the technical, it is about how people think, how they learn, and what they care about.

“A major aspect of engineering is psychology. The mental and emotional side of how we connect with people. That is what we do at our core here at AT&T. We connect people.”

With her eye on IP protocols, video encryption, and emerging technology, Melissa is continuing to follow the path of wild fascination.

Stay tuned! #LifeAtATT will be following Melissa with a “Day in the Life” video series to get to know more about our very own Friendly Neighborhood RAN Engineer from AT&T!

Explore Technology Careers at AT&T