Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Mechanical Engineer Robin Miles is an expert at targeting

You've been at the Lab 15 years. Where did you start out?
I first worked at the LLNL Microfabrication Facility Microtechnology Center where I came to work on NA-22, a DOE program to reduce threats to national security through developing new and novel technology. I was group leader for microfluidics (control of fluids on a sub-millimeter scale) in the bioengineering group. We built systems around sensors for biological and chemical detection for nonproliferation and global security. We also worked on MEMS target parts for HED (high energy density) targets and the Janus system and NIF.

You worked in industry before coming to the Lab.
Yes, for a number of years, at Westinghouse, at Varian in Palo Alto, and then as project manager at Redwood Microsystems, where I was working on MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) valves for pressure and flow regulator products. While there, I became involved in a CRADA (Cooperative Research and Development Agreement) with the Laboratory, so I got to know people here, which opened the door.

You have a BS in mechanical engineering from MIT, an MS in mechanical engineering from Stanford, and an MBA from UC Berkeley. Were there any women who influenced your education or career path?
Unfortunately, no. That was a huge problem for women in engineering. Most women chose this work in spite of that.  When I was at MIT, it was 15 percent women. In many classes, I was the only woman, and in most of the companies where I worked, there would only be maybe one other woman.  MIT now has 50 percent women, so it's better. The whole atmosphere is better now. There are more examples now, women who were successful to encourage young women today.

What would be your advice to women or girls today interested in engineering?
If a girl is inclined in that direction, she should just do it. If it's her nature to pursue math and engineering, that shouldn't be ignored. There's much more support today, especially here. LLNL is very good about hiring women.

What do you like most about working at the Lab?
Number one is the people. There are very bright people here with a lot of initiative. It's also very entrepreneurial, which appeals to me.  As long as there's funding, there's an opportunity to do new things.

What interests you outside of work?
Hiking, reading, and movies. One of my favorite trails is the Steep Ravine Trail on Mt. Tamalpais.  I hike in Las Trampas quite a bit, though, because it is close to home.