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STEMinist Profile: Kirsi Kuutti, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Undergraduate

Kirsi Kuutti

Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Undergraduate

University of Minnesota Duluth



What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
Building robots on my high school’s FIRST Robotics team, the Daredevils, got me hooked on STEM careers! We created robots to compete in various games like soccer, basketball, and ultimate Frisbee. The Daredevils showed me that engineering is not just a profession, it is a lifestyle. Since teams only have six weeks to fabricate a competitive machine we learned to work hard and smart. We used engineering principles coined by the team like “Beautility”− a reliable machine must have both “Beauty” and “Utility”. My favorite task on the team was creating circuits from sensors to motors and performing general robot wiring.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
Soldering a circuit board for NASA’s deep space habitat was the coolest project I have worked on. I interned for NASA’s Glenn Reserach Center one summer and assisted in the fabrication of a solar array regulator which takes energy from the sun and batteries to power a habitat for astronauts. The circuit I made ensures the solar regulator receives power even during emergencies. It’s exciting to think that one day something I made may be sent to space.

Role models and heroes:
My robotics coach Mr. Velner and astronaut Karen Nyberg are my top role models. My robotics coach demonstrated the importance of helping others throughout my whole robotics experience. He illustrated through his work, teaching biology and mentoring, that helping those beyond my generation is most important for humanity. Karen Nyberg is an amazing leader in STEM — being a part of missions on the International Space Station, a scientist, and a mother.

Why do you loving working in STEM?
STEM careers combine creativity and problem solving which I find exciting! Additionally, careers in STEM often lead to working in teams and collaborating with a whole lot of different people and different professions. You never fall short of challenges!

Advice for future STEMinists?
My first year of college I failed Calculus II, one of the first engineering major requirements, and withdrew from my university’s engineering program. The following semester I gave it another shot. After getting a study buddy, practicing hundreds of problems, and asking the professor questions during office hours I passed with a B+! My advice for future STEMinists is to not give up and keep pursuing your passion despite doubts. Even if you have to retake a class many times, try a new strategy and find those who can help you.

Favorite website or app:
Favorite app: French Girls, draw other people from the selfies they take and take your own selfies so other people can draw you.

Favorite website:, resources and community for women in computer science.

Twitter: @KirsiCootie



‘Aquabots’ Makes a Splash with Kentucky Girls

Student mentors, faculty and staff from UK, as well as an engineer from Lexmark, worked with the girls as they designed, built, programmed and tested their own robots. Now in its second year, the camp is designed to promote interest and enjoyment of science and engineering study in junior high and high school girls.

[ via University of Kentucky News ]


STEMinist Profile: Dustyn Roberts, NSF Graduate Research Fellow

Dustyn Roberts

Dustyn Roberts

National Science Foundation
Graduate Research Fellow, Ph.D. Candidate

Polytechnic Institute of NYU

What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
My dad was an engineer and I was always good at math and science, so I chose a college with a strong engineering program. After a year or two I settled into mechanical and biomedical engineering and have really enjoyed it.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
I got to work on part of the Mars Curiosity rover that’s currently on its way to Mars.

Role models/heroes:
Yoky Matsuoka.

Why do you love working in STEM?
The more I learn the more I understand how the world works, and my STEM based education gives met the ability to ask interesting questions and be able to answer them, both through theory and experiments.

Advice for future STEMinists?
Stay curious. Years of calculus can dull the spark in some budding engineers, but keep at it. Also, don’t let the male/female gender ratio get you down. Most men I know have a great deal of respect for women in engineering because they know we had to sometimes go through more to get where we are.

Favorite website or app:
HootSuite for managing social media, Adafruit Industries Circuit Playground for tech.

Twitter: @dustynrobots