Katelyn Brinker is in a dual-degree program in engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology.
Why did you choose to participate in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) program?
I've always been a problem-solver, a go-getter and someone eager to learn. STEM allows me to combine who I am with my interests to advance my field and make an impact.
How did you decide which STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) field was right for you?
In high school, I had the opportunity to participate in Project Lead The Way (PLTW) courses, which allowed me to see how I could combine my affinity for math and science with my desire to solve new problems and help others. This led me to pursue engineering. Starting out at Missouri S&T, I wasn't sure which type of engineering was the right fit for me, but I knew I had to jump in and try new things if I was ever going to figure it out. I joined the Mars Rover Design Team. I took a computer engineering class. I figured out what I liked and didn't like, I kept trying, and I found my path: dual degrees in electrical and computer engineering with a goal of one day working in the aerospace industry.
What is a typical day like in your STEM experience?
Throughout my undergraduate education at Missouri S&T, I was very involved with the Mars Rover Design Team and the IEEE Student Branch and I worked at the Writing Center. Currently, I am pursuing my master's degree in electrical engineering with the support of a NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship. Each day I get to work on advancing a new technology. What these two parts of my STEM experience have in common is that every day in STEM I have the opportunity to push myself to learn more and take on new challenges. In the process I am becoming a better engineer, leader, collaborator and innovator.
What was the most memorable moment of your STEM program?
The most memorable part of my STEM experience, by far, was being a part of the Missouri S&T Mars Rover Design Team and being there when we were named the world champions at the 2017 University Rover Challenge! I joined the team my first week at S&T and over those four years and four rovers we built in that time, I made so many friends and learned so much. The team and what we accomplished together will always be very special to me.
What advice do you have for teens looking at STEM degrees and/or career paths?
Figure out what you are passionate about and don't be afraid to keep trying until you figure it out. There are a ton of opportunities in the STEM field, and you have the opportunity to find the one that is the right fit for you.