Feb 20, 2020

In the Spotlight for Engineers Week 2020: SoundHound Inc.’s Rowena Zuniga

This week marks the 66th anniversary of the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) EWeek. The week has been set aside to shine a light on the importance of a technical education and to motivate youth to pursue engineering careers. This year, the events include “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day” reflecting the important focus on women in engineering.

In celebration of Engineers Week and “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day”, we talked to senior software developer, Rowena Zuniga. An alumni of the University of Waterloo, Rowena has merged her love of music and engineering into a role as a software developer on the music recognition team at SoundHound Inc.

When we sat down to talk to her about how she was introduced to engineering and what has continued to inspire her to pursue a career in software development, here is what she had to say:

Q: What inspired you to take on a role in engineering?

A: As a child,I loved to read children’s computer books. In fact, I remember running out of computer books to read at the children’s section of the library where I grew up. When I got my first computer, I was amazed at the possibilities and the internet was a game changer for me. At the time, we had an AOL subscription, and I racked up a really big bill one month — which my mom wasn’t happy about. I ended up taking up a paper route job at age 12 just so I could pay my internet bill. Then, a family friend — who was a programmer — recommended that I pursue studies in computer science.

I attended an all girl’s school where I was the only person in my peer group interested in computers. There was a bit of a stigma for me to go to computer classes. But I always loved to build things and that innate interest I discovered as a kid continued to drive me.

Q: What is your favorite part of your job at SoundHound Inc.?

A: I’m happy that I could find a career that blends both my interests in music and technology. I really like the emphasis on a good work culture at SoundHound. There is a higher ratio of women engineers here and the atmosphere is very inclusive.

Q: What Inspires you about your work?

A: I’m excited about the potential to improve the music recognition engine.

Q: If you were stranded on a desert island with only one type of music, what would it be?

A: I’m a fan of the classics. Groups like The Beatles and Fleetwood Mac.

Q: What hobbies do you have outside of work?

A: I like to sew clothing. I like creating things — sewing creative outfits and costumes. I had this red coat that I loved as a teen and I’ve kept it all this time. Recently, I deconstructed it and made a new coat that I can actually wear. Last year, I made matching Halloween costumes for my dog, Weasley, and me.

Q: If you could have one engineering superpower what would it be and why?

A: I want to have the power to write code in one pass without any compilation errors.

When she was nine years’ old, Rowena was presented with a Peacemaker Award by her teacher. As an engineer at SoundHound, Rowena embodies the spirit of a peacemaker and team player. She continues to blend her love of music and technology while bringing her creativity to bear on finding solutions to engineering challenges.

Rowena is part of a talented music recognition team working to improve the experiences for users of the SoundHound Music Discovery app. Learn more about everything we are doing at SoundHound Inc. We’re building amazing things together. If you’re interested in joining us, check out our careers page for a list of current openings.

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