What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
I cannot say that I envisioned a career in STEM while growing up. Frankly, math scared me. I didn’t have problems with the material — but I had the nagging feeling that my abilities were never good enough. Even loving my computer science classes in high school was not enough to convince me that CS might be a good option. Pursuing a career in anything that involved STEM never even crossed my mind.
I originally studied archaeology, because I wanted to live the adventurous life digging in the desert (Indiana Jones-style). However, I took a few computer science classes at Bryn Mawr College with fantastic professors who started us off with challenging and interesting material right away. By the time my sophomore year rolled around, I was hooked. I graduated with a CS major and have been in STEM ever since!
What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
There have been so many! I think that the coolest/flashiest one was Bubbles, an automated aerial robot. We automated Bubbles to navigate a maze and plot the course it took. Bubbles was not only programmed by my team, we also designed and built it! We may have cornered the market on flying purple and blue dodecahedral robots. Granted, that’s a very small market…
Role models and heroes:
I’m accepting applications!
Advice for future STEMinists?
Go out and take advantage of the resources available to you. For women in computer science or software engineering, there may be grants or internships specifically targeted at you! These are often designed to give you experience as well as match you with a mentor.
I applied for a grant from the CRA-W while pursuing my Bachelors, and had the opportunity to work on a fascinating research project with fantastic people. That particular grant opened doors for me years after I completed the internship, and I still keep in touch with my mentor and the friends that I made.
Also, speak up! Make your opinions known and ask questions. I find that a lot of people have an attitude of “fake it till you make it.” Oftentimes, this leads to newcomers thinking that they are underqualified, or worse, unintelligent.
You can take two approaches here: either you join them and fake understanding until you feel comfortable, or you can ask questions. I prefer the second approach. This gets you up to speed faster, and earns you gratitude from your classmates or colleagues for clearing up questions they were all asking themselves!
Favorite website or app:
This was actually a more difficult question than I anticipated. I asked myself what website or application would cause me the most amount of panic, should I not be able to use it? Phrased that way, my favorite has to be gmail.