Nina Tandon hopes one day to run a company. “I’d love to shape the culture of technology and use it as a vehicle to help the world,” says Tandon, who plans to use environmentally-friendly practices and people-friendly economics to create quality-of-life products.

She earned a degree in electrical engineering in 2001 from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City. Then, for two years she worked as a research engineer at Avaya Labs in Basking Ridge, N.J., where she was part of a team that designed and built applications for enterprise communications systems. She wrote software for a communications engine now in trial use with more than 100 customers and was co-author of two patents. She also built a location-based notification application for Bluetooth-enabled PDAs.

Next, Tandon won a Fulbright Scholarship to study at the University of Rome “Tor Vergata.” There she worked on a project analyzing the breath samples of patients to determine the efficacy of a non-invasive lung cancer detector.

Tandon, who holds an MIT Presidential Fellowship, is pursuing a Ph.D. in electrical engineering and computer science, and she is now doing research in tissue engineering. She speaks Italian, has studied French and Hindi, and she wants to learn other languages as well. “Language barriers divide us. My wish for the world is that we can eliminate misunderstanding and conflict through exposure to each other and by good communication. I’m an engineer,” she says. “I really believe we can apply practical methods to achieve these goals.”