Melissa Rost earned her MS in Statistics and BS in Applied Mathematics, both from Georgia Tech. Here she shares a little about her career and the inspiration behind it.
What is your specific area of STEM?
Applied Mathematics and Statistics
How would you explain your STEM field to young girls?
I analyze data from many different fields to try to make sense of it and to try to gain a better understanding of what is really going on, how something could be improved, or to predict an outcome from the data available.
What traits might a child possess that may indicate an interest or aptitude for your STEM field?
Just enjoying math in general as a child and through high school might indicate an aptitude towards studying math since so many children dislike math. For STEM fields more broadly, I think a general curiosity about the world and asking questions about how and why things work in a certain way might indicate an aptitude.
What did you know about your STEM field when you were a child?
I knew that I always enjoyed math growing up and that I was really good at it. I remember having so much fun during the summers doing the extra problems from the math workbooks. My mom also has a math degree so I remember hearing about her working with numbers for her job, but I don't think I knew much about career options with a math degree outside of her job.
Why did you choose your STEM field? Were you inspired by someone?
When I was applying to Georgia Tech, I remember looking over all of the majors and honestly not knowing what any of the specific types of engineers were. I remember being told that my grandfather was an engineer when I was a kid, but no one ever told me what type, so I honestly didn't really know there were types until then.
When I saw math, I knew I loved math and that I was really good at it, so it seemed like a great choice. And it was. I loved my classes and I loved learning and proving why something was true and not just taking it to be true just because.
I took engineering classes and really saw the difference between the ‘math’ thought process and an engineering one, which has more of a focus on taking the result that is assumed to be true and applying it to solve problems. I love asking questions and I love knowing the details of ‘why’ so seeing the engineering side further confirmed to me that math was the right choice.
What are some really cool things that people in your profession work on?
Data is everywhere, so really data analysis has a place everywhere and you could work in whatever field you want! There are people who analyze sports data, manufacturing and sales data from things like toys, health data - everything!
What inspirational message would you give young girls to inspire them to pursue STEM?
You are just as capable as the boys despite what anyone tells you so go for it!
Thank you for contributing, Melissa!
Women in STEM, we invite you to take our survey. You'll inspire young girls and contribute to the success of the STEM Girls Books series!