Jill Meyers learned to fly an airplane at age 17, joined the Air Force, and later earned her Aerospace Engineering degree from the University of Texas at Austin. Here she shares a little about her career and the inspiration behind it.
What is your specific area of STEM?
How would you explain your STEM field to young girls?
Aerospace Engineering is about designing and building aircraft (aeronautical) and spacecraft (astronautical) of all shapes and sizes. You can work on small airplanes like a Cessna or big military jets like the F/A-18s that the Navy Blue Angels fly! You can work on rockets or capsules that will carry astronauts to Mars someday.
What traits might a child possess that may indicate an interest or aptitude for your STEM field?
A child that enjoys math and science in school may exhibit an aptitude for engineering. Many kids play with radio-controlled aircraft or toys like Legos that allow them to build things. Even paper airplanes often lead towards careers in Aerospace!
What did you know about your STEM field when you were a child?
My first indication was my love for building plastic models - I built airplanes and aircraft carriers when I was very young. I went up in a small Cessna when I was 13 years old, and that was IT for me! So I learned to fly at the age of 17 and then joined the Air Force, where I later got my engineering degree. My parents were very supportive of my dreams to either fly or build airplanes when I grew up!
Why did you choose your STEM field? Were you inspired by someone?
As I mentioned, I fell in love with airplanes at a young age. I was going to be a doctor until the first Space Shuttle launched into space. At that time I decided to be an Aerospace Engineer. I wanted to be an Astronaut but didn't have perfect grades in college which is required. I really didn't have a mentor, although I really wish I had. I just read a lot about pilots and astronauts when I was a teenager.
What are some really cool things that people in your profession work on?
I'll just use my own experiences to answer this one!
With an Aerospace Engineering degree, you can work on so many things!
What inspirational message would you give young girls to inspire them to pursue STEM?
My primary message is that you CAN be anything you want to be! Find things that you LOVE doing and figure out how to turn that into a job. Find people already doing that job and talk to them! Look for mentors - they are all around you! Reach for the stars and never give up!
Thank you for contributing, Jill!
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