Happy 2020 – welcome to the recap of our first Alumnae Story Chat LIVE on Instagram!
For those of you who are new to the Aspirations IT Connect Community, welcome — my name is Katherine Myers, I am the Aspirations in Computing Award Program Ambassador and host of the Alumnae Stories!
The Minnesota Aspirations in Computing Program is a local affiliate of the National Center for Women & Information Technology. We collaborate with local businesses, organizations, high schools and colleges to inspire, support, and empower young women in becoming the next, best home-grown Minnesota tech stars.
Last Spring during the Certificate of Distinction Recognition & Workshop Day, we conducted a survey with participants. We asked to know what types of experiences the young women wanted us to add to the Aspirations roster… the response was unanimous for more opportunities to meet and network with each other — thus the idea of Alumnae Stories on Instagram and the online Aspirations IT Connect Community was born.
The monthly LIVE Chats is an effort to provide an online engagement experience that connects program participants as well as other young women seeking a community of like-minded peers with curiosity and interests in computing-related education, activities and much more.
While Chats are primarily focused on tech, there will occasionally be integrations of engineering, biology, and other sciences. Our goal is to cultivate a safe space for girls to exchange ideas, insights, ask questions (there is no such thing as a stupid question), and connect with peers as well as college administrators and future employers.
Guest alumnae, program partners and other women in tech who agree to chat with us are driven by their desire to pay-it-forward by lending their stories, experiences, advice and even network to our mission to build equity for women in the tech sector.
The first chat of the year was all the feels for me! We invited Claire Kaiser, who is a biomedical engineering Ph.D. student at my alma mater, the University of Minnesota — Go Gophers! As you may know, I also have an engineering degree. Claire shared her amazing journey from her hometown in Seattle, WA to the University of Rochester in New York on an undergraduate track in Applied Science which ultimately led to her pursuing a graduate degree here in Minnesota.
While attending a biomedical engineering conference in the Twin Cities during her undergraduate studies, Claire discovered the multitude of biomedical engineering companies that are in the Twin Cities, including my company, Abbott. She was surprised to learn that for students looking for a diverse and fast trajectory into STEM career fields, the U of M and other Minnesota State Universities and Colleges, as well as area industries, are great incubators for her engineering degree aspirations.
Now in the 3rd year of her graduate track in biomedical engineering, Claire spends much of her time out of the classroom and into the real world conducting clinical research on the technology side of biomedical engineering and developing ultrasound devices to treat rheumatoid arthritis. She reflected on the soft skills she gained during undergrad that was valuable in building her strong industry — when asked which soft skill has proved to be the most useful for her, Claire said, “ networking and public speaking, especially now, since I am focusing solely on research instead of classes.”
I was also able to compare and contrast our paths after graduation. Hers lead to graduate school and mine to industry. As I mentioned earlier, I am a Systems Verification Engineer at Abbott, a majority of my work is focused on cardiac catheter equipment clinical research and development where I at times participate in lab and mock surgical product research and test work. After her graduate school, Claire wants to spend a few years working as a biomedical engineer and then she hopes to inspire other women pursuing futures in STEM fields as a professor.
Claire and I also touched on the impact her peers, mentors, and colleagues have had on her journey. Having diverse coworkers and peers, whose studies and expertise are focused on different product outcomes, allowed me to gain a holistic understanding of how my research and development work improves patient experiences and practitioner success. It’s encouraging to see how different engineering disciplines come together to create the most innovative medical solutions available.
Claire, thanks again for helping us start the year on an energetic note! Subscribe to the Minnesota Aspirations in Computing YouTube Channel to watch the Live Chat with Claire.
Don’t forget to check your emails in February and March for the announcements of the National and State Aspirations in Computing Award Winners!
ABOUT ALUMNAE STORIES
This syndicated Instagram series gives program participants and other young women in high school the opportunity to connect with alumnae at various stages of their journey as #womenintech. The series will also occasionally feature program partners and participants who exemplify MNAiC mission, goals and values. Join the Aspirations IT Connect Community to stay connected to Alumnae and current program participants!
ABOUT MINNESOTA ASPIRATIONS IN COMPUTING
The Minnesota Aspirations in Computing (MNAiC) Awards Program partners with the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) to inspire, empower, and honor young women of high school age for their computing-related achievements and interests. The program is supported by the Minnesota State IT Center of Excellence and numerous businesses and organizations. The powerful story of honoree accomplishments does not end at a recognition ceremony in April of each year, it’s just the beginning! Over 400 young women who have been honored since the Minnesota Aspirations in Computing Program inception in 2012-2013 continue to pursue life-changing education and career opportunities, becoming accomplished practitioners and leaders in a variety of Science Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields.