Intelligent Machines

Susie Wee '90, SM '91, PhD '96

Marrying user experience and evolving technology

Susie Wee has a new job with a very long title: vice president and chief technology and experience officer of collaboration and communication. After 15 years at Hewlett-Packard (HP), Wee arrived at Cisco Systems last spring to help clients make strategic use of new communications technologies—and enjoy the process. 

Her work to date has led to this role. Wee earned her electrical engineering and computer science degrees at MIT, where she worked on the predecessor to HDTV. She then moved to California to work for HP. As R&D manager for HP Laboratories’ streaming media systems group, she devised algorithms that adapted data-heavy video streams to lower resolution. Her work allowed HP to develop a handheld device that could display video much faster. She also served as chief technology officer of client cloud services, an important new platform. “It’s all about the emergence of the client cloud and how the cloud touches the end users,” she says. The cascade of new devices, such as tablets, means a new generation of apps, more visual presentations, and more pervasive computing, she says.

Wee made the jump to Cisco for a new opportunity to concentrate on collaboration. “We are really focused on improving how people collaborate and communicate within the enterprise,” she says.  “We need to look at the data side—tools, user interface, e-mail, shared white boards, and social media—and how you put people and data together. How do you really create an immersive communications environment where people can work effectively?”

Based in Palo Alto, California, Wee is an active hockey player and trail jogger, and has co-taught a graduate course on digital video processing at Stanford University. And she did not forget MIT. She established an ongoing Researchers in Residence Program that invites MIT graduate students to work alongside leading HP Labs researchers.

In 2002, Technology Review named Wee one of the world’s top innovators under the age of 35. She’s also been named one of ComputerWorld’s Top 40 Innovators under 40; in 2010 she won the Women in Technology International (WITI) Hall of Fame award. An IEEE Fellow for her contributions in multimedia technology, Wee holds more than 40 patents and her papers have appeared in more than 50 international publications. (See Tech Review and WITI videos of Wee at technologyreview.com/SusieWee.)

Wee and her husband, John George Apostolopoulos ‘89, SM ‘91, PhD ‘97, met during a NASA Jet Propulsion Lab internship during their MIT days. They have had largely parallel careers—he’s now director of the mobile and immersive experience lab at HP Labs.

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