Velda Iskandar graduated from the University of Central Florida with a bachelor's degree in forensic chemistry and chemistry minor and held internships with the National Center for Forensic Science and New York State Police crime laboratory. Her undergraduate research at NCFS working with polymers to help forensic investigations sparked her interest in polymers and the materials science field.
"I learned about the endless applications of plastics and how impactful their roles are in different industries ... from pharmaceuticals, forensics, electronics to food packaging," she said. Iskandar started as an analytical chemist for Teknor Apex Co. "performing reverse engineering and chemical analyses to a diverse range of plastic compounds."
She was promoted to her current role, product development specialist, in wire and cable technical services after one year of joining the Pawtucket, R.I.-based materials firm and has earned Six Sigma Green Belt certification.
"My personal mold that I am breaking is not taking the usual career route that most people who graduated from the same degree do. After having worked at a forensics lab setting, I realized that there are other career paths that are more suitable for me with my transferable skills," Iskandar said. "I am very driven by innovation, project management and product marketing in the materials science space, and my current role as a product development specialist in tech service has been fulfilling."
Iskandar said her greatest achievements involve "overcoming self-limiting beliefs and conquering my fears when jumping out of my comfort zone."
"I took a large leap of faith when I moved across the world away from my family for college, moved to a new city to start a career in a new industry, and when I ran my first wire trial," said Iskandar, who was raised in Indonesia by parents in the medical field, where her aspirations to pursue a STEM career came from.
Back in college, Iskandar wrote for the online magazine Her Campus and won an Editor's Choice award for her work.
"This meant a lot to me," she said, "as I was writing about how extraordinary women like Rosalind Franklin, Mother Teresa and Malala Yousafzai demonstrate to young girls that women have the ability to leave a mark in the world beyond our physical appearance."