What do you do?
I teach robotics, controls, and engineering to college
students and also do research in robotics education, human-robot interaction and work on strategies to improve the number of women and minorities pursuing careers in STEM.
Why did you choose this field?
When I was an undergraduate student in engineering and realized that none of my professors looked like me and that I was one of only 2 or 3 women and 2 or 3 minorities in all of my engineering classes. I became an engineering professor to change the face of the profession and to show that it was fun, engaging, and diverse to inspire others to want to join.
What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?
Getting my doctorate and becoming an educator, I wish I had not waited to return to graduate school and gotten a head start on my career. It was hard to see the end without a bridge of mentors and role models that looked like me but I had to learn the value of cross cultural and cross gender mentoring. I achieve to be for my students what I wish I had received as an undergraduate engineering student.
Why do you love working in STEM?
Finding the solutions to difficult problems. Creating something that has never existed before. Seeing the light bulb turn on in the eyes of my student as I help illuminate a difficult concept for them. I look forward to teaching and making connections with students and people so they can see how exciting STEM can be through robotics and interacation.
Best advice for next generation?
Keep tinkering, being creative and innovative and don't listen to the naysayers. Know that girls are good at Math and Science and have been throughout history. Tell them stories about Ada Lovelace, Mae Jemison, Katherine Johnson, Cynthia Breazeal, Ayanna Howard, and Gladys West. You can achieve all of your dreams with hard work and discipline.
Inspo quote / fun fact / role model
I have several, here are three. "To whom much is given, much is required” - Luke 12:48. "Faith is taking the first step when you don't see the whole staircase" - Martin Luther King, Jr. “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” - Maya Angelou.