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Latinas in STEM Innovating and Advancing the World

Latinas in STEM are innovating in such unprecedented ways that their contributions to the world may live on for years to come. Their boldness, passion and tenacity, which many believe originate from their Hispanic heritage, help them stand out in their fields and set the stage for the next generation of builders and shakers. Among these professionals are Cynthia Rubio, CEO and co-founder of Radiant RFID, and Supervisory Special Agent (SSA) Tisha Louise Saldivar of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Cynthia Rubio
CEO and co-founder of Radiant RFID.

Cynthia Rubio
CEO and co-founder of Radiant RFID

Growing up, Cynthia Rubio was intrigued by how the world around her worked. That’s why she was always offering her dad help: Whether it was fixing a broken air conditioner, a broken water heater or changing oil in a car.

Naturally, when it came time to apply for college her dad suggested she pursue mechanical engineering.

It was the best decision she could have made. Today, Rubio serves as CEO and co-founder of Radiant RFID, a market leader in advanced tracking technology solutions. The company provides full end-to-end asset tracking solutions to some of the largest public corporations.

“What we were intrigued by was a technology that we thought could be applied to many different industries and problems. We’ve always been about effectiveness and efficiency and making things work better,” Rubio says.

Radiant RFID, which employs about 30 people in the U.S. and the globe, got its start in the conferences and events industry. Rubio says the company was charged with improving accuracy and efficiency of attendance count, including how long guests stayed in specific sessions to gauge interest levels.

“We turned the barcode-scanning method of taking attendance at a seminar and made it more efficient by using RFID technology instead of barcode technology,” she explains. The company then started handling asset management and employee safety.

With 25 years of engineering experience, ranging from product development, mechanical design and data analysis, to test methods development and technical report writing, Rubio credits her success, in part, to her Latino roots.

Cynthia Rubio holds a meeting at Radiant RFID.

“I think my Hispanic culture has taught me to work hard, how to get along with people and how to forgive and move forward. Large extended families provide many opportunities for leading, learning, respect, integrity, and courtesy have always been a must for my family,” she says.

“I think this is helpful in business. Being a Hispanic female in mechanical engineering taught me to stand up for myself in the workplace. You have to stand tall and proud of who you are and what you bring to the table.”

Prior to running her own company, Rubio worked for Trilogy software, Ford Motor Company (where she was recognized for her accomplishments in methods development via a prestigious Customer Driven Quality Award) and the aerospace and petroleum industries.

Rubio was recognized as a Hispanic Entrepreneur by Makers Row and is a sought-after public speaker. Rubio faced challenges of her own and wants to pay it forward through volunteering her time and expertise to worthy causes.

“Rocket science is part of STEM but there are many other ways to apply math and science,” she says.

“Don’t be afraid and know you can have fun with any type of career you choose.”

Supervisory Special Agent (SSA)
Tisha Louise Saldivar
Regional Polygraph Program Manager Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Security and Dallas Division.

For Tisha Louise Saldivar serving in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was always a dream. That’s why she sometimes still catches herself wondering if her job at the FBI is real.

“The majority of FBI investigations utilize some form of STEM to successfully investigate and prosecute a case. To be a part of this great organization and utilize my STEM abilities to serve this great country is what drew me in,” says Saldivar, who serves as Supervisory Special Agent (SSA) and Regional Polygraph Manager within the Security and Dallas Division of the FBI.

She’s extremely proud of working at the premier intelligence-driven, national security law enforcement agency. The FBI is charged with protecting American lives and liberties from foreign and domestic enemies. The agency combines law enforcement and intelligence to detect, deter and dismantle criminal and domestic threats, while upholding civil liberties, using a wide array of advanced scientific techniques and operational technologies.

Saldivar predominantly works cases involving violent crimes, bank robberies, kidnapping, extortion, drugs and domestic and international terrorism. She can’t disclose too many details but did offer a glimpse of a missing child’s case.

“After the case agent and management narrowed down the subject list to a few, I was called in. I conducted the interview with the subject and after a failed polygraph, I was able to obtain information regarding where the missing child may be located,” says SSA Saldivar.

“I immediately contacted our Evidence Response Team to a certain location and through their use of STEM, we were able to find the body of the child. To be able to find this child for the family and bring this subject to justice is what we are trained to do.”

As Coordinator for the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crimes Behavioral Analysis in Dallas, she is charged with responding to both the FBI and outside agencies, by offering criminal analysis, profiles, behavioral and personality assessments, interview and interrogation strategies, statement analysis and more.

Assistant Special Agent in Charge Niambi Tillman (left) and Supervisory Special Agent Tisha Saldivar (right) review a training document for the Polygraph Unit.

Supervisory Special Agent Tisha Saldivar puts ITS James Bruce in the hot seat to run a simulation.

Saldivar is responsible for the South Central Region of the United States and her region assists Washington D.C. and overseas operational needs. “I believe our Polygraph Program makes a huge impact within the FBI and beyond. We provide resources and expertise to State and local law enforcement agencies. Our job is to use our interviewing and interrogation skills in conjunction with technology (polygraph) to obtain truthful and accurate information. We strive to bring justice for the victim or the accused,” she says.

The Spanish-European descendant credits her parents for instilling in her the core principles of compassion, faith, family and respect.

“I believe sticking to these principles have enabled me to become a successful interviewer, interrogator and leader.”

She says there is nothing that can’t be accomplished with the right attitude.

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