Holly Lusardi is a big supporter of women making their mark in science and technology, something she has done since the 1980s.
The Parsippany resident is also a believer in County College of Morris (CCM), which helped her to update her technical skills after taking a 10-year hiatus following the birth of her third daughter.
“In 2006, I took a course at CCM to see if I was still interested in software development,” Lusardi says. “I had a great professor named Nancy Binowski (chair of Information Technologies). It made me decide I wanted my degree in computer science.”
Lusardi followed through, graduating with honors with her Associate in Science in Computer Science and as a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society in 2007.
Enjoying the Challenge
Lusardi, who received her master's degree in software engineering last May from Stevens Institute of Technology, has been working since 2008 for Universal Technical Resource Services (UTRS), Inc. as a software engineer at Picatinny Arsenal.
“What I enjoy about software engineering is always learning something new. Every day is challenging. You get to work individually and also be part of a team to help your customer succeed.”
After graduating with a bachelor's degree in international relations from the University of Delaware, Lusardi stumbled upon the world of software design the way many did in the 1980s – through on-the-job training.
“I was in the right place at the right time,” says Lusardi, who received her initial training on a billing system while working for AP-Dow Jones News Service. From there, she received formal training from H. Ross Perot’s company, Electronic Data Systems (EDS), which had created an in-house program because of the lack of college computer science programs at the time. She worked at EDS for 11 years prior to the birth of her third daughter.
Encouraging More Women to STEM
Lusardi has made a point to stay connected to CCM, serving on the Information Technologies Advisory Committee since 2012. She also has given talks to students at the college several times on the topic of women participating in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Last year, she served as the keynote speaker at CCM’s annual Women Who Dare conference, addressing approximately 200 high school females regarding the prospects of STEM jobs.
“As well as accounting for half the population, women have many strengths that are needed in STEM careers and our input needs to be part of every problem solution. It’s unthinkable that in 2015 I can sit in a meeting with 20 people and be the only woman,” Lusardi says. “We need to continue to encourage young women to pursue STEM careers.”