I am deeply passionate about influencing positive change in the world through innovation, strategy, technology planning, education, mentorship, and the pursuit of solutions to complex challenges in the fields of autonomy and artificial intelligence (AI), with versatile applications across diverse platforms.
My professional journey has led me to the esteemed role of Senior Principal Technologist, an executive-level engineering position, at Amazon, where I specialize in critical autonomous systems designed for safe deployment in dynamic and unstructured environments, ultimately to serve and assist people. Prior to joining Amazon, I innovated through defining technology strategy and developing algorithms while working as an aerospace engineer for two decades, adding a unique dimension to my expertise. In this role I also had the pleasure of working over a dozen missions in different technical roles before handing our products over to the customer.
My current research interests lie in innovating to achieve safe autonomy and developing ways to architect autonomous systems so that you can leverage techniques like machine learning and still verify the system.
Presentation and Article Highlights
Take a look at some of the things I love working on.
What is artificial intelligence?
On February 12th, 2023 Nia discussed Fairness In Tech, the importance of data and accessibility on a panel at the Gathering Spot in DC. Full video coming soon!
Roboticist / Executive Engineer
Engineering leader identifying & solving challenges to enable robot deployment in unstructured environments to help people. Led an Autonomous Mobile Robot (AMR) team as Chief Engineer through analysis & requirements definition achieving safety case sign off from the external assessor as a milestone to safety certification.
Cyber, AI & Data Tech Strategy
Technology strategy leader represented thousands of engineers as leader of the technology planning process, provided direction & synthesized input from hundreds of technical experts into actionable business insight for the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) to use to drive the Long Range Business Plan.
GNC and Autonomy
Algorithm analysis/design and leadership for multiple satellites. Developed innovative algorithms that are flying, enabling critical autonomous systems, today. Ensured hardware designs supported autonomy needs. Won employee of the month for innovative leadership in developing a mass properties envelope for the GPSIIF suite of 12 satellites.
Teaching, Education and Training
Enabling AI education for all by defining and organizing content aligned with different personas for the Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML) Program office while leading the AI/ML Education and Training Committee.
Successfully delivered 14 satellites to customers by providing launch and early orbit support on console from the El Segundo Mission Control Center. Roles varied from Spacecraft Engineer to various Autonomy and Attitude Control Systems (ACS) subject matter expert and leadership roles.
Presentations and Panels
Delivers keynotes, speaks, presents and sits on panels discussing Robotics, Rocket Science, Autonomy, AI, her vision of the future, her career, and other topics. She enjoys sharing complex topics simply in written and spoken form.
M.S. Aeronautical & Astronautical Engineering • Stanford University
Focus on Dynamics and Controls
Research Project: Stanford Space Systems Development Lab (April 2006 – May 2007)
Software Engineer in the development of a CubeSat (10cm cubed) Satellite to demonstrate communication functionality between 3 CubeSats
B.S. Mathematics with Computer Science • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Focus on Artificial Intelligence, minor in Earth Atmospheric and Planetary Science
Research Project: Observational Techniques in Astronomy Lab, Re-derived the constant in Kepler’s 3rd Law of Orbital Mechanics (T ≈ Ka^3/2) by taking CCD images of Jupiter and the Galilean Satellites (Jupiter’s four inner-most moons) and analyzing the data.
Data driven model-based approaches
Fault Analysis (i.e. Fault Tree, FMECA)
Others (Knowing how to model and write good code independent of language!)
Developed and taught Spacecraft Autonomy 101 and 201 at Boeing Space and Defense
Developed and deploying Rockets and Robotics, an inspirational curriculum for K - 12
Developing a safe autonomy curriculum
Technical Leader for large science and engineering teams
Concept development and leadership of execution of data driven Inclusice tech initiatives that have measurable impact