Alumni and Donors

A Conversation with Dr. Gabriela Gongora-Svartzman Ph.D. ’20

Gabriela Gongora-Svartzman Ph.D. ’20 is a proud graduate of Stevens’ School of Systems and Enterprises (SSE) — and one of its most illustrious alumnae.

She credits her academic experience, her professors and her numerous extracurricular activities at Stevens with helping propel her to her current position: assistant teaching professor of information systems with Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy. Her research is focused on bridging the quality of experience and quality of services in smart cities.

As she builds her career as a young professor and researcher, Dr. Gongora-Svartzman has already started giving back to Stevens — through career advice for former students to ongoing and future research collaborations with SSE students and professors. The award-winning teacher recently reflected on her Stevens experience and ways to give back.

What aspects of your academic experience at SSE have been the most memorable?

 My Ph.D. adviser — SSE Associate Professor Jose Ramirez-Marquez — was instrumental in my development throughout the Ph.D. program. I am forever thankful for all his support and teaching throughout my years at Stevens, and now our continued collaboration in my new role with Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). Many of my classes shaped my research and opened my eyes to new ideas, especially Simulation and Modeling, taught by Assistant Professor Paul Grogan. I also learned a lot from the compassion, understanding and mentorship techniques of Teaching Professor Gregg Vesonder, who I worked with on summer research programs with international students. Beyond academics, I definitely have fun memories, too. Graduate women events, the Christmas tree lighting and other campus-wide activities helped with the pressure of my Ph.D. program. I have a special fond memory of participating in SSE potlucks. At a time when we all needed to come together as a community, what better way to do it than with food?

At Stevens, you served as a teaching assistant and received the Award for Exemplary Teaching in a Recitation Section. Did you find teaching rewarding?

I definitely did! I started my Ph.D. thinking I would use my degree and skills to go back to industry and work on solving interesting problems. Instead, I ended up enjoying academia substantially more. I grew fond of finding ways to explain concepts and applications to students, finding joy in those “aha” moments when they finally get a complex problem or solve a programming bug, and guiding them through diverse projects.

What role did you play in the Women@SSE program**?**

The initial meetings were a safe space to talk about different problems women in SSE were facing and what types of talks and support would be beneficial to all of us. I attended events, participated in meetings and was a speaker at an initial meeting. I spoke about my experience as a scholar at the Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC), a series of conferences designed to bring the research and career interests of women in computing to the forefront. I’m hoping to inspire other women to join GHC in the upcoming years.

Can you discuss your current relationship with SSE?

 As a former SSE teaching assistant and former adjunct business professor at the School of Business at Stevens, I keep in touch with Stevens students to provide career advice. I still have ongoing research projects, publications and grant proposals with SSE professors. I hope to keep these relationships in the years to come and continue fostering collaboration and the exchange of ideas, including between students from SSE and CMU.

For more information on how to volunteer with and support the School of Systems and Enterprises, email Hunter DeSimone at [email protected].