Imagining Possibilities: Science Profile on Nicole Grimwood ’16

Nicole Grimwood (Photo from Grimwood ’16 imagines possibilities. From creating remote control mood lighting in her residence hall room to researching modulation schemes for wireless communication, Grimwood has leveraged her liberal arts education at Scripps to launch her into a world of creative innovation and invention.

As a first-year student at Scripps, Grimwood was ready to take on difficult courses in math and science. Her passion for the applied aspects of physics, particularly electromagnetics, led her to study electrical engineering. Engineering at Scripps is a 3-2 major, where students earn two undergraduate degrees in five years: a Bachelor of Arts from Scripps during their first three years and a Bachelor of Science in engineering from a participating college or university in the following two years. Grimwood attended Columbia University for the completion of her education.

During her time at Scripps, Grimwood experienced enriching new classes outside the scope of her major. She recalls taking a course on Female and Male in Ancient Greece. During a visit to the Getty Museum with friends, Grimwood recalls drawing upon her knowledge and education to think about art in a more critical way.

Scripps College’s emphasis on an interdisciplinary curriculum and critical thinking has helped Grimwood develop creative solutions to complex problems. She leveraged these skills during her internship at Instructables, a technology company and website that manages user-created and uploaded do-it-yourself projects. Grimwood designed some of the electronics projects, creating easy-to-follow instructions on the Instructables website.

“Having a degree from Scripps is a unique asset in the engineering world,” says Grimwood. “Engineering work is very mathematical, but it also requires a lot of creativity and the ability to concisely communicate ideas.”

Grimwood also credits her various Scripps mentors with her success, including her first-year peer mentor and her academic advisor, Professor of Physics James Higdon. She notes that they provided the tools and confidence she needed to ask questions and to solve complex problems.

Grimwood recently completed her master’s degree in the electrical engineering program at Stanford University. At Stanford, she conducted research on new modulation schemes for wireless communications, creating variations in radio waves to efficiently deliver information. This past May, she was offered a full-time position at Cohere Technologies, a wireless communications start-up in the Bay Area.

A typical work day for Grimwood consists of running simulations and analyzing the data to determine how Cohere’s technology will play out in real-world scenarios. She’s interested in developing vehicle-to-vehicle communications with life-saving implications. “If vehicles can communicate their speed, direction, and positioning with one another, they can potentially prevent traffic congestion and collisions,” she says.

Grimwood likes to keep the big picture in mind on her projects. “I think a lot about the impact of my research and industry on the global level,” she says. “It’s actually very difficult to build up the infrastructure for communication systems, and many communities remain disconnected from the Internet. I hope to impact the world by bringing internet access to individuals who are currently without.”

Insights from accomplished mentors and the wide breadth of academic and extra-curricular experiences Grimwood gained through her Scripps education has proved valuable, for which she is grateful. In addition to making gifts to Scripps, Grimwood supports the College by serving as a mentor for students considering the 3-2 engineering program. She stresses the importance of getting involved as a mentor or sharing the transformative Scripps experience to the global community.

“It’s important for women to have role models in a field that is so male-dominated,” she says. “I want to give back in any way I can to ensure the next generation of Scripps graduates can pursue their dreams, regardless of their gender.”

During her time at Scripps, Grimwood had a strong network of peers and mentors who helped her succeed. Career Planning & Resources is looking for alums, family members, and friends to help our students prepare for “what’s next” after graduation. Visit their webpage for additional information on ways to get involved.