University of New Orleans alumna Robin Rose began her college career on scholarship as a music major at Loyola University. However, after a semester of studying the violin, she realized she was in love with math.
“I was like, “I can’t get math out of my head. I want to deal with math,” Rose said. “When I see phone numbers on TV, I’m literally looking at them like an equation I need to balance in some way.”
She sought advice from a friend’s father who happened to be a mechanical engineer.
“He said find yourself a good state school with a solid engineering program, and he recommended UNO,” Rose said.
Rose, a native of Algiers, took that advice and earned a mechanical engineering degree from UNO in 2002. It was not easy, Rose recalled. She was often the only woman or African American in class.
“The engineering school was rigorous at UNO, so it taught me how to think. I have a pretty tough skin coming out of UNO,” Rose said. “It taught me perseverance, to keep going.”
Rose recalled going to meetings as a member of the UNO chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers and taking to heart the chapter president’s words.
“He said we are here to get a degree by any means necessary,” Rose recalled with a laugh. “I always remembered that.”
Her perseverance has paid off. Rose’s degree and engineering skills have landed her positions in public and private companies, from the education field in Dallas, Texas to the world’s entertainment epicenter—Hollywood.
Rose spent six years at NBCUniversal in Los Angeles before taking a position at Netflix in 2020 leading the building infrastructure department.
At Netflix, Rose oversees an eight-person team—soon to expand to 20—that is responsible for keeping all building equipment operational.
“I oversee all MEP operations, that’s mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineering operations,” Rose said. “We are responsible for critical equipment that serves Netflix, like chilled water systems, fan coil units, electrical panels, fire light safety systems, building automation systems. We make sure all of that equipment is always online and operable.”
Despite its global standing as a media leader, Rose said Netflix is a company that values the importance of work-life balance, embraces cultural diversity and applauds teamwork.
“I love the technical projects that I’m working on, but I love the people component of this company. It’s huge,” Rose said. “I love the culture of this company; that is the most meaningful part to me.”
Rose is working to build a central monitoring location system for Netflix that will allow them to see all critical systems and remotely test diagnostics on equipment. She created a similar software program and monitoring system during her time at NBCUniversal.
“So we’re building that from the ground up right now for Netflix,” Rose said. “That was the number one project I was hired to come on board to do.”
Currently technicians have to go on-site and physically view equipment and run diagnostics. Once the central monitoring system comes online later this year, that won’t be necessary, Rose said.
“You know how the CIA has a bunch of screens in a room and it’s like you can see everything that’s going on?” She explained. “Basically this allows us to have visibility through automation of all our critical assets to perform diagnostics remotely.”
Rose is also working to set up an asset management software program that keeps track of the maintenance cycles of equipment.
That’s thousands of assets housed in about 10 buildings in the greater Los Angeles area that fall under her responsibility.
“Most of our buildings in Los Angeles are right in the heart of Hollywood,” Rose said. “You can see the Hollywood sign from those locations.”
Yes, that iconic white-letter sign, Rose confirmed with a laugh.
Her advice to students, particularly to young women, is to have “tunnel vision” in pursuit of their college degree.
“You can come from very humble beginnings; just keep your eye and focus on getting that degree and learning the curriculum; and it can really transform opportunities,” Rose said. “You can end up where you couldn’t imagine because of this one degree.”