Tamara Robertson is a chemical and biomolecular engineer. She is passionate about sharing her love of science and engineering, especially in ways that inspire young girls to pursue STEM.
Tamara is the host of The Feeding Tube, a web video series bringing real facts behind popular food myths. She was also a finalist on the Science Channel’s “Mythbusters: The Search”, a series featuring the next generation of fearless contenders with killer build skills, science smarts and nerves of steel.
Tamara earned her BS degree in Biomolecular and Chemical Engineering from North Carolina State University. Below she shares a little about her career and the inspiration behind it.
What is your specific area of STEM?
Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering
How would you explain your STEM field to young girls?
Engineers in my field get to work on lots of different cool items, designing new ways to make products. We work on fun household items, like toys for kids or lotions, life saving medicines like vaccines, and even future-focused technologies like biofuels. The sky is the limit when it comes to ways to utilize a Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering degree! :)
What traits might a child possess that may indicate an interest or aptitude for your STEM field?
STEM is all about imagination and curiosity. If you like to tinker with real life products and figure out how they work, or maybe even rebuild them in a cooler way, then you would love the STEM field! STEM is like an adventure with lots of different paths that lead to cool discoveries so if you enjoy learning new things, this is the place to be!
What did you know about your STEM field when you were a child?
When I was a child I had never heard about STEM. I didn't know any engineers outside of Scotty on Star Trek and he was very different from me. Yet from a young age I loved to tinker! I enjoyed working with tools and watching my dad build things and often times I got to help, which made me love it even more!
Even in school I really liked my math and science classes but didn't know that people other than my teachers were in these fields. It wasn't until I was in college that a teacher talked to me about engineering and for the first time I felt challenged and excited about school work!
Why did you choose your STEM field? Were you inspired by someone?
My decision to pursue Chemical & Biomolecular engineering was spurred by a few items:
What are some really cool things that people in your profession work on?
There are so many cool things you can do in this field. One of my first jobs was making biofuel that smelled like popcorn when used in a car engine! I got to set up a way for our local restaurants to donate their old oil to us so we could make fuel for our college’s farm equipment! :)
Then when I graduated I got to help design and build a vaccines facility, and even work in conjunction with the WHO (World Health Organization) and CDC (Centers for Disease Control) on making vaccine for the Swine Flu pandemic that was making a lot of people sick around the world!
After that I got to work with cool companies like Burts Bees, Nestle, Target, General Mills, 3M, McDonalds and so many more designing packaging for awesome products like cereal, toys, and candy.
Other people in my field get to design awesome things like makeup, lotion, fuel for cars and rockets, and even yummy food like pizza!
What inspirational message would you give young girls to inspire them to pursue STEM?
Always remember that where your journey begins doesn't define where it ends - you do! You can be anything you want to be as long as you're willing to work for it. Also there's no such thing as failure in Science as long as you learn something.
Thank you for contributing, Tamara!
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