Meet the Founders

STEM Center USA was founded by the Jawa sisters. After years of supporting each other as students of STEM, then teachers and mentors of STEM programs, the Jawa sisters decided to share their excitement and enthusiasm with students. Their goal is to inspire the next generation of STEM leaders around the world with the exciting educational experiences uniquely created at our STEM centers.

Melissa Jawaharlal – CEO & Co-Founder

melissa webMelissa Jawaharlal is a co-founder of STEM Center USA and engineer at Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems. She studied at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland and got her Bachelor's in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Southern California (USC). Melissa's research field is primarily in space exploration in which she's served as a design lead for currently orbiting satellites at the Information Sciences Institute (ISI) as well as performed software optimization for the United States Air Force. 

Melissa is passionate about exploring the final frontier of space and engineering for the developing world. Most importantly, she works to ensure that future generations will share that zeal for STEM advancement. She has presented her work at MIT through the Lemelson-MIT InvenTeams program as well as through NCIIA and Inventor's Digest. Melissa has mentored and taught in numerous robotics related activities for several years and has been recognized for her coaching and instruction style. She is passionate about hands-on, experiential learning and seeks to revolutionize K-12 STEM education. Melissa is an avid traveler and enjoys adventuring to new places and scuba diving.

Lavanya Jawaharlal – President & Co-Founder

LavanyaLavanya is the President and Co-Founder of STEM Center USA. She received her Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of California – Berkeley, where she also served as the Executive Vice President of the student body. During her time at UC Berkeley, Lavanya presented at multiple conferences on the importance of STEM education, worked alongside administration to disaggregate data within the College of Engineering, and oversaw the opening of a $223 million student union project. 

Lavanya is the co-author of The Technical Alphabet and helped develop the Pi-Bot robot kit. She and her sister were recognized for their work in STEM education by former Vice President Joe Biden and featured on ABC’s “Shark Tank” Season 7, Episode 6, where they received offers from Lori Greiner and Chris Sacca. Lavanya has spoken at several key events regarding diversity and inclusion within the STEM fields, including TEDxCPP and the national AAPI summit in Washington DC. Most recently, Lavanya secured a $50,000 grant to expand STEM Center USA operations to a second location in Southern California. In her spare time, Lavanya enjoys playing soccer, scuba diving, and experiencing new vegan eateries.