Smita Shah, Math Works For Her

Smita Shah is the CEO of Spaan Tech and is a professional engineer based out of Chicago, Illinois, while licensed in multiple states with an extensive engineering and business education, from Northwestern University, MIT, and Oxford University. 

She wanted to start a company for herself before having to work for someone else. Her business turned into an award-winning company when it was launched in 1998, and Inc. Magazine has highlighted Spaan Tech as one of the 5,000 Fastest-Growing Private Companies, Smita Sha is also recognized by the American Council of Engineering Companies, Engineering Excellence Award. 


Ms. Shah has a Master’s of Science in Civil Engineering from MIT. She uses her degree to solve engineering riddles, such as how to upgrade the electrical systems for Chicago Public Schools, or an ability to design traffic signals for the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority. Spaan Tech is a $14-million joint venture with the goal to design electrical systems for lighting and navigation aids for a new runway at Chicago, O’Hare International Airport as part of their $6.6 billion expansion project. After college, Smita Shah did a White House internship where she was answering phones and filing paperwork two-doors near Bill Clinton’s office in the 1990s. 


She has also served in the Illinois Democratic Party, having been appointed its youngest delegate at the 1996 Democratic National Convention while also serving both the Rules Committee and the Platform Committee at the 2004 and 2008 conventions. These committees decided whether or not to reinstate Florida’s and Michigan’s delegates at the conventions, even if those states broke rules by having their primaries on February 5th. Ms. Shah serves on the Board of Directors for many businesses and organizations in Chicago, such as the Chicago Plan Commission. She has served the Museum of Science and Industry. Learn more:


Ms. Shah feels that engineering is an important field to know and understand, that girls ought to have more access to learning about. She has the Ellis Island Medal of Honor as one of the many awards she has won, joining the ranks of Ronald Reagan, William Rehnquist, Rosa Parks, and Frank Sinatra. Ms. Shah has been sponsored by the National Coalition of Organizations, which is a New York-based non-profit whose goal it is to recognize those who have “changed the fabric of America,” through their life’s work. Spaan is a company that landed at number 1,821, on Inc. Magazine’s list of 5,000 growing private companies. She uses her career to keep herself entertained although she is seen as a tough negotiator. She knows how to be at construction sites, to political events, to society galas, as a scholar, business leader, and role model, building bridges of understanding.

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