Volunteer Spotlight: Vinessia Fisher Hankins

Written by volunteer writer Alison Perch

Portrait of Vinessia with a lawn sign reading 'Girl Scouts, TechoQuest presenting sponsor Duke Energy'
Vinessia Fisher Hankins was the first woman to graduate in Industrial & Manufacturing Engineering from FAMU/FSU College of Engineering. Vinessia says her decision to pursue BS/MS degrees in this field was a defining moment in her life.

“It has provided me with the educational foundation and discipline which has been instrumental throughout my entire career,” she explains.

Thanks to her educational background, Vinessia has worked in a variety of industries, such as government/defense, manufacturing, and IT. She has held senior leadership roles at corporations such as NASA, Lockheed Martin, IBM, and Lenovo.

Today, Vinessia works as an Engineering Manager at Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions, Inc. in Research Triangle Park, NC. Her department of mechanical engineers supports the design and development of self-checkout systems and other point-of-sale devices for retail companies worldwide.

Vinessia credits her father with sparking her interest in STEM. She always did well in school, particularly in math and science, though her dad’s constant tinkering inspired her to pursue her own engineering projects.

“I always saw my dad fixing things that were broken or … working on some special project around the house. That desire to build, create, and solve problems always seemed to energize me,” she says.

Now, Vinessia is energizing the next generation of tinkerers by volunteering with TechGirlz. She has always been active in her community and wanted to inspire girls to consider STEM careers.

“I volunteered as a TA first, and by the end of that initial workshop, I knew this was an organization that I wanted to continue to support and volunteer my time,” Vinessia says.

Vinessia in a classroom setting with girls in a workshop
Vinessia strongly supports TechGirlz’ mission and loves to lead TechShopz, with the support of others in her community. She notes that workshops oftentimes have waitlists, due to reaching maximum capacity, which speaks to the need for more volunteers.

Vinessia’s distinguished career in engineering serves her well as a TechGirlz volunteer. She has won a number of awards over the years, including Black Engineer of the Year Nominee for Professional Achievement; the United States President’s Volunteer Service Award; and the National Women of Color Technology All-Star Award. She also recently had her first patent filed at the US Patent Office.

Even if you have less experience in technology and engineering, Vinessia says there’s still plenty you can do to make a difference.

“Whatever industry or profession you work in, you have something essential to share with our youth. You can use your own personal experiences to highlight the ways in which technology has been important throughout your career and inspire so many young girls via the TechGirlz organization,” Vinessia explains.

Whether you’re new to tech or a seasoned professional, YOU have something to offer. Volunteer with TechGirlz today!