I Didn't Always Want to be an Engineer

What!?! Yes, it is true. Engineering was never my ultimate dream job; but it was part of my dream.

I remember one day in an engineering class at Texas A&M University where the professor asked my classmates and I, "Who in here wants to end up working with people?"  I don't remember the point of this question, but I do remember that there were only two people in the class that raised their hands-- me and my Vivify sidekick, Natasha. You see, my dream was always to help people. I enjoy working with others, finding creative ways to solve the problems of this world, and ultimately improving the lives of others. The issue was, however, that I had this knack and interest in engineering, particularly for Aerospace Engineering.  So where and how would my skills and my dream collide?

Let me throw some statistics at you about one of the greatest problems our world faces today...feeding the hungry!

  • "Without pesticide use, the world’s food supply would be reduced by 40 to 50 percent, resulting in an increase in food prices estimated at more than 50 percent". (source)
  • "One American farmer produces enough food on average to feed 128 people .
  • The U.S. food and fiber industry generates 21 million jobs, about 17% of the work force, or one out of every six jobs
  • Less than 2% of the U.S. population lives on farms today, in 1920 it was 30%, and when the Constitution was signed, it was 90%". (source)

To conquer such a vast issue, there needs to be involvement from all backgrounds and specialties.  So where can I fit in?


Enter Air Tractor, Inc.- where I am employed as an engineer.

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Air Tractor is the worlds' leading manufacturer of agricultural airplanes that makes it possible to effectively and efficiently treat a variety of crops.   Without aerial application (cropdusting) the ability to provide food for the masses would be impossible. I am proud to be a part of the engineering effort at Air Tractor that not only allows me to utilize my engineering knowledge to better the aircraft, but to also be able to contribute to the greater good in such a unique way.  I have the privilege of working with people and the industry to see how to best meet their needs and feed the world!

I think many kids, girls in particular perhaps, lose interest in STEM fields when they feel that there may be conflicting ideals.  Science, technology, engineering and math are many times seen as removed and isolated from the heart of the "real issues"-- maybe some kids picture stemists (those working in STEM fields) as socially awkward people in lab coats that spend countless hours doing research in a basement or stuck in front of a computer screen and out of touch with reality.  My hope is that through Vivify and the progress this country is making towards educating our youth about the wonders of STEM, that kids see what STEM is really about.  It isn't about figuring out complex theories to put in math books and make homework for future of generations more difficult. It is about everyone putting forward their best efforts and most innovative minds to make this world a better place.  That may be cliche, but it is true!

I'd like to applaud Twitter for their recent efforts to help others in the Technology sector! They are opening a $1 million learning center where some of their employees will be teaching valuable technology skills to the area's poorest residents, including the homeless. The center, dubbed "The NeighborNest" will also provide a space for the children of these people to play and learn.  What a great way to give back!   You can read more about this effort and the giving of other prominent tech companies in 
this article.

So, why get involved and encourage the next generation to pursue their dreams in STEM fields?  The reasons are as countless as the opportunities we have to change this world for the better!

-Claire