Jenifer Castillo is a Colombian engineer. She was the first Latina to lead the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Women in Engineering (IEEE WIE), the largest professional organisation dedicated to promoting women engineers and scientists in the world.
Born and raised in Colombia, Castillo followed in family footsteps when it came to her career path: her father was a computer engineer, while her brother is an industrial engineer. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in mechatronics engineering at Universidad de San Buenaventura Bogota in 2006, pursuing her interest in process automation and robotics.
After university, Castillo joined Parker Hannifin, an engineering company specialising in motion and control technology, as a product specialist in their Bogotá office. She left in 2011 to take a job as an application engineer in Ingersoll Rand’s Colombian team, helping develop compressed-air projects.
Throughout these career moves, Castillo continued to volunteer for IEEE WIE, which she had first become involved with as a student. The group works to facilitate the recruitment and retention of women in technical disciplines around the world; Castillo held several positions including section chair and region secretary, and established the IEEE Colombia WIE group.
In the wake of Hurricane Maria in 2017, Castillo co-led Together We Can – Project Bright, an award-winning endeavour that saw volunteers and IEEE staffers raise donations and supply hurricane survivors in Puerto Rico with solar lanterns. She went on to complete an MBA in business administration at the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico in 2019, setting up the IEEE Puerto Rico and Caribbean Section’s WIE group during her master’s.
Between the start of 2021 and the end of 2022, Castillo was the Women in Engineering Committee Chair at the IEEE, leading the promotion of WIE objectives around the world. Her priorities as chair were supporting ongoing diversity and inclusion initiatives and increasing the number of female IEEE senior members. She remains a member of the IEEE Women in Engineering executive committee for Latin America and the Caribbean.
Castillo is currently a sales and account manager for the worldwide aircraft maintenance company Lufthansa Technik. Previously, she was territory manager and then project specifications manager in Latin America for Parker Hannifin. In November 2020, she was honoured with the IEEE MGA Achievement Award, recognising her “sustained and outstanding achievements in promoting students, young people, and WIE membership development in Latin America”.
- Diversity in STEM with Jennifer Castillo, IEEE Computer Society
- Meet the First Latina to Lead IEEE Women in Engineering, Kathy Pretz, IEEE Spectrum, 19 May 2021
Written by Moya Crockett, with thanks to Stylist for their support.