Leveraging a PhD into a Boundary Pushing Career

September 27, 2019


Rekha Govindaraj

Improvements in memory and storage capabilities of integrated circuit chips and other components have moved the power of 20th Century mainframe computers into portable and relatively inexpensive consumer devices of the 21st Century, such as smartphones and tablets.

Much of that transformative innovation originated in the laboratories of Apple, and Rekha Govindaraj is among the company’s design engineers who are researching things like how to turn the potential of advanced semiconductors into useful goods and services. Innovating technologies far beyond Moore’s law of the semiconductor industry is a dream come true for her. She says earning her PhD degree in Computer Science and Engineering at USF helped her get to where she wants to be professionally.

“‘I’m working on cutting-edge technology and looking for future trends that we can use, and how we can make our products better with technology.”

Govindaraj’s PhD research and dissertation, Emerging Non-Volatile Memory Technologies for Computing and Security, built on her professional experience as a VLSI design engineer at Qualcomm, Inc. According to Govindaraj, the College of Engineering’s Computer Science and Engineering doctoral program was a good fit for her purpose and level of experience.

“I wanted to really focus on my research and the courses matched my interest in regard to silicon engineering and memory design with its application into computer science, so USF offered what I was looking for.” Govindaraj adds that earning a graduate degree is hard work, and offers advice for success.

“Sometimes you have to try again and again to learn the things you need to. Don't be overwhelmed by it. Be focused on the bigger picture despite the failures and you'll be able to do it at the end. Believe in yourself.”

Besides studying and researching, Govindaraj served as vice president of the American Association of University Women at USF and was active with the Society of Women Engineers chapter. She received the 2016-2017 Provost's Outstanding Teaching Assistant award in the STEM category, was a student member of the National Academy of Inventors and also holds U.S. Patent No. 9,543,013, Magnetic Tunnel Junction Ternary Content Addressable Memory. Govindaraj also worked as a summer intern with memory design team at Apple.