Watch Out World: Engineer Elaine Serina Leads the Way for Women

 Dr. Elaine Serina and her staff at Talas Engineering. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Elaine Serina)

Dr. Elaine Serina and her staff at Talas Engineering. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Elaine Serina)

Dr. Elaine Serina, mechanical engineer, bio-mechanics company founder, wife, mother and community advocate knows how to make the world safer and more secure. She is the principal partner of Talas Engineering, a San Francisco Bay Area company which evaluates accidents. Talas in Filipino means sharp. The company uses science, specifically physics and engineering, to figure out how unfortunate incidents happen.

"We investigate accidents where people get hurt. We find out how it happened and what can be done to prevent it. In a car accident, we calculate how fast cars were going when they hit, how long they were braking, could the accident have been avoided, when the person was thrown from the vehicle.”

“Our firm has worked on high profile cases like the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico, and the California Berkeley balcony collapse last year that killed six students.”

“In a fall from the balcony, we figure out where the person was, what he did before he fell based on injuries and how he ended on the ground. “

Talas Engineering then gives clients the accident details to help them make informed decisions so they don’t happen again.

 Talas Engineering, a company that analyzes accidents, founded by Dr. Elaine Serina. {Photo courtesy of Dr. Elaine Serina)

Talas Engineering, a company that analyzes accidents, founded by Dr. Elaine Serina. {Photo courtesy of Dr. Elaine Serina)

Serina's path to biomechanics and engineering was influenced by her father, Dr. Eliseo Serina, a physician, and mother Norma, a nurse, who encouraged her to get a medical degree. She excelled in math and science, especially biology.

"Going into mechanical engineering and working in biomechanics was perfect. I applied physics and engineering to study how the body works or breaks, and how to fix it."

 Dr. Elaine Serina at her Ph.D. graduation from UC Berkeley with parents Dr. and Mrs. Eliseo Serina. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Elaine Serina)

Dr. Elaine Serina at her Ph.D. graduation from UC Berkeley with parents Dr. and Mrs. Eliseo Serina. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Elaine Serina)

At her UC Berkeley graduation, Elaine Serina was the only Filipina; one of three women awarded a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering. She was the first Filipino Ph.D. to participate in 'Pilgrad', the Filipino graduation ceremony.

Dr. Serina has done research in biomechanics and ergonomics and published in scientific journals. She has served on research grant review panels in traumatic injury biomechanics for the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and epidemiology for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

Beyond being an engineer, Serina has a soft spot for Filipinas who need a break. She founded Pinay Aspirations, a non-profit organization in San Francisco that gives scholarships to Pinays and nurture their personal growth and careers.

“As a Filipina, I hope I can be a role model for Filipinas in an underrepresented field. This goal keeps my standards high and pushes me to continue to break barriers for those who follow me.”

 Dr. Elaine Serina addresses the graduating class of UC Berkeley College of Engineering in 2004. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Elaine Serina)

Dr. Elaine Serina addresses the graduating class of UC Berkeley College of Engineering in 2004. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Elaine Serina)

 Dr. Elaine Serina working in the field, investigating the safety of railroad equipment. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Elaine Serina)

Dr. Elaine Serina working in the field, investigating the safety of railroad equipment. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Elaine Serina)

 Dr. Elaine Serina, a certified forklift operator does hands-on work at her company's warehouse laboratory. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Elaine Serina)

Dr. Elaine Serina, a certified forklift operator does hands-on work at her company's warehouse laboratory. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Elaine Serina)

She also volunteers her expertise to the philanthropic efforts of semi-conductor innovator Dado Banatao. Banatao helps California students of Filipino heritage pursue science and engineering careers.

Whether she is sharing her talents with the community or investigating accidents for clients – private companies and government agencies throughout the US -- Dr. Serina’s strength and grace shines through in her work and love for her family who give her the reason to achieve. “My husband Andrew, our son, family, employees and friends are the people who shape my life.”

In an engineering arena dominated by men, Dr. Elaine R. Serina stands out and aspires to lead more Filipinas to arrive at the same position.


 Elizabeth Ann Quirino

Elizabeth Ann Quirino

Elizabeth Ann Quirino, based in New Jersey, is a journalist, food writer and member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP). She blogs about Filipino home cooking and culinary travels to the Philippines on her site AsianInAmericamag.com.


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