Sounding out change: Our noise and vibration engineer inspires STEM students

Lara Ginevra Del Pizzo is a noise and vibrations engineer for Electrolux Group, putting her acoustics awards to work in our lab in Susegana, Italy, hoping to inspire other young women to follow in her footsteps. In this interview, she shares her career journey so far. 

What do you do as a noise and vibration engineer?

I deal with noise and vibration generated by our appliances, together with two other colleagues in Susegana. Moreover, I am always on the look for innovative technologies for improving our noise lab. Thanks to our noise chambers, we calculate the sound power level of our refrigerators. In this way, we comply with labelling regulations throughout the world, solve quality issues (some of them can be really puzzling,) and study the feasibility of new products.

What is your background?

I studied Physics at the University of Pisa in Italy, where I focused on acoustics and vibrations. During this time, I took part in several projects related to transportation noise; both my MSc thesis and PhD thesis were awarded by the Italian Acoustics Association for the best research in acoustics topics in 2018 and 2022. 

After university, I worked in a research spin-off company of the Italian National Research Council, and I joined Electrolux Group in Susegana in 2022 where I hope I am contributing to keeping the standards of our Research & Development (R&D) activities high.

You’re one of the mentors of our STEM:FEM mentoring program. How important is it to support female STEM students?

When I heard about STEM:FEM, I realized yet again that Electrolux Group is a perfect fit for me. From since I remember, I wanted to be a scientist, but the lack of female role models often made me think that I was not on the right path. 

My passion for physics and knowledge was stronger than everything else, and fortunately, during university I discovered other women who faced challenges like that and won them — for example, Lynn Conway, a computer scientist who was fired by IBM in the late 1960s due to her gender identity. Her discoveries power our smartphones and computers. 

I believe that the visibility created by such programs plays a key role in teaching us to never let prejudice get us down. 

How diverse and inclusive is Electrolux Group?

Electrolux Group is a respectful working environment; inclusion seems to be a core value for the whole Group, and everyone values these themes very highly. While there is still much to be done outside of the working environment, I feel our company is truly striving to make a safer environment for everyone where people can express their true self authentically recognizing the unique value that each person brings to our company and how the support of all employees can help create an increasingly diverse and inclusive work environment.

You’re an LGBTQ+ rights advocate. Tell us more.

Yes, since university I have been an LGBTQ+ rights advocate. For example, during my PhD, I worked together with a university professor to define a new approach to the “alias career,” which allows transgender students to use the name they use in their daily life, which in many cases does not match their legal name on their university badge. This helps students whose gender identity differs from their gender assigned at birth. Being able to hold even a simple badge with your name on is an extremely validating experience, though limited to university grounds.

Today, 46 Italian universities offer the “alias career.” Students can ask to have a student card and a university email account with their new name. I am definitely proud that I was able to leave a mark at my university.

I am also involved with the Italian Centre for Speech Therapy, acting as a communication partner for vocal training of transgender people. This allows me to merge in a unique way my passion for acoustics and advocacy, since the basic concepts of sound generation are applied to how we express our identity.

What advice would you give to girls dreaming of a career like yours?

Never let anyone define who you should be, what you should like or what you should pursue for your own happiness and fulfillment. My advice is to listen to the sound of your own voice.

About Lara

Lives: Susegana, Italy

Likes: Motorbikes, sports, languages, cultures

Dislikes: Fixed mindsets

Hobbies: Tennis, reading, photography

What drives her: Knowledge and exploration