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Joan Plastiras

Joan is a real estate broker and investor (80% commercial, 20% residential). She is a certified commercial investment member (CCIM) and a Realtor. Most of her education, training, and experience are in mathematics, statistics, operations research, systems engineering and the application of these methodologies to engineering. Joan has worked in energy (solar and nuclear), consumer and industrial products and facilities (automotive, all-terrain vehicles, chemical and rocket motor plants), terrorism (military facilities and weapons), and aerospace (space payload systems safety, reliability, and quality). Joan worked in two pre-IPO companies (Failure Analysis and Google), but exited early to raise children. As a retail strip owner and Broker/owner of Prospect Properties in Palo Alto, Joan continues to learn from her experiences with small businesses. Joan’s biggest accomplishments include: Leading the first probabilistic risk assessment for NASA on the shuttle main engine main pressurization system (as an employee of Lockheed Research and Development, now Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center, following the loss of Challenger). She presented these results on CNN Investigated a chemical plant fire and identified ball bearing lubrication failure as the cause of the accident (after a team of PhDs from multiple engineering disciplines took six weeks to investigate and failed to identify cause (as an employee of Failure Analysis). Identified a weapon vulnerability that could be exploited by a terrorist; this forcing a major redesign of the weapon, already in manufacture (while at Sandia Labs). It had sensitive political ramifications, as Lawrence Lab severely criticized Sandia for this oversight, and she was cautioned to stop talking about it or would lose her security clearance. Showed that insolation and air conditioning loads were inversely correlated for many sites, thereby proving that central receiver solar plants were not cost-effective as peaking plants (while at Sandia Labs). She presented the results at the International Solar Conference—a paper based on a Sand publication that was, decades later, stolen and sold on Amazon England. Several managers above received a letter from the head of DOE Energy in Washington complimenting the technical rigor of the paper while noting that it didn’t promote solar funding. Used simple Boolean Algebra to show that Google Page Counts were mathematically wrong; presented the result as a bug on the external user interface and was informed that the problem would require a multi-man year, full press re-engineering effort to correct it.
Wrote Quasi-triangular C* Algebras on Hilbert Space, which won honorable mention from the American Mathematical Society for the best dissertation that year. Joan asked a question about an important class of C*algebras that had not been asked before and invented a metric that completely classified all such algebras up to *isomorphism. Education: PhD mathematics UC Berkeley AB mathematics/English Vassar College License: PE mechanical Engineering, CA , M 22362