Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Roshan “Ro” Mehdizadeh
Dr. Roshan “Ro” Mehdizadeh Corsiglia is a Director at Google responsible for Governance and Controls within the Real Estate Workplace Services and Security department. In addition, she researched, developed and now oversees the Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Virtual Reality (VR) programs. She holds two patents which tie computational modeling to key building data and machine learning. Ro has many peer-reviewed published articles in the fields of energy, sustainability and building modeling. She earned a Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University, an M.S., in Real Estate Development from Johns Hopkins University, an M.S., in Engineering Management and B.S., in Civil Engineering from Santa Clara University.
Ro is on the Dean’s Advisory Council at Johns Hopkins University Business School, the Industry Advisory Board at Stanford University and Technical Advisory Board, National Science Foundation (NSF) at Stanford University. She holds appointments on the Futures Council within the Design-Building Institute of America (DBIA) and Innovation Council within Urban Land Institute (ULI). In 2019, Ro was awarded Silicon Valley Business Journal Top 100 Women of Influence and San Francisco Business Times Women of Influence.
What was your experience like at SCU?
I had a wonderful experience at SCU as a result of mentorship from my professors and the close friendships that I developed amongst my civil engineering peers. At times, it was difficult to balance a demanding schedule that came along with majoring in engineering and swimming at a national level, but I had a remarkable amount of support from this community. It is no surprise to me that I still collaborate with many of these same people today. I was also fortunate that my brother, Nader, was a year ahead of me at SCU studying computer engineering and helped pave a path for me both academically and socially.
Where did you begin after graduating and how did your career develop?
I stayed an extra year at SCU to earn a M.S. degree in engineering, which I highly recommend. During this time, I also worked on practical aspects of my degree by working as a Junior Engineer with the Town of Los Gatos conducting plan checks for hillside and commercial development. This was an exciting time in the Town of Los Gatos as Netflix was submitting their initial plans to expand their Los Gatos headquarters. From there, I moved to Baltimore, MD, where I completed an accelerated 12 month M.S. degree in real estate development at Johns Hopkins University. I returned back to the Bay Area and worked at Devcon Construction as a Project Engineer. Devcon has a unique history with, and deep commitment to, SCU’s engineering students, which made it a fantastic place to work. I realized there was a lot of opportunity to further integrate sustainability more broadly into real estate construction practices so I returned back to academia to pursue a Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University. My research was the first at Stanford that focused on sustainability in the built environment. During my time at Stanford, I conducted research for Arup, one of the largest engineering firms, and also started my employment at Google. Completing my Ph.D. took a few extra years than initially anticipated as I was working full-time, got married, and was lucky enough to have our first child. Just like the little engine that could, I never gave up and slowly made progress until I successfully defended my research. During this time, I had a number of people in industry question why I would pursue further academia, but I knew that the critical thinking skills I would develop would serve me well in the future. Never give up on your dreams.
What are some accomplishments that you are most proud of?
Receiving my diploma for my Ph.D. while holding my 2-year-old daughter.
How have you navigated in a male-dominated field as a woman?
I stay focused on the work, confident in my abilities, seek opportunities to add value, and ensure I communicate clearly and directly.
What are you currently involved in?
I am involved in and contribute to a number of organizations and institutions:
- Dean’s Advisory Council, Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School
- Appointment to Futures Council, Design-Building Institute of America
- Hillbrook School Board of Trustees
- Appointment to Innovation Council, Urban Land Institute (ULI)
- Industry Advisory Board, Stanford University, Center for Integrated Facility Engineering
- Technical Advisory Board, National Science Foundation (NSF) at Stanford University
- Board of Director, De Anza Cupertino Aquatics
What was your experience teaching CE 118 / 218?
It was extremely rewarding. The course provided students with the opportunity to explore topics related to sustainability within the built environment. Each week, I would lecture one day and the following we had guest speakers with degrees in civil engineering to share how they utilized their degrees in varying and nontraditional ways.
What are your future plans?
To continue to be my authentic self.
Do you have any advice for current SCU students?
Don’t have imposter syndrome - everyone started as a novice. Instead, humbly seek out people you admire and learn everything you can from them.