Tara Samuels is a private pilot and earned her Master’s Degrees in Aerospace Engineering and Business Administration from San Jose State University. She is also founder of Captain Safetypants, a free STEM education program that allows her to share her passion for aviation with kids of all ages.
Tara works in the Office of Safety and Mission Assurance at NASA Ames Research Center and is a 1st Lieutenant, Mission Transport Pilot and Aerospace Education Officer for Civil Air Patrol, the civilian auxiliary of the US Air Force. Below 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 Engineers design, build and test aircraft and spacecraft.
What traits might a child possess that may indicate an interest or aptitude for your STEM field?
If you have an inquisitive mind and enjoy math and science, you'll do great in STEM fields.
What did you know about your STEM field when you were a child?
I knew NOTHING about aerospace engineering when I was a child. When I grew up I got a pilot's license. To become a pilot you have to learn about aircraft systems, structures, aerodynamics, and more. Learning about how planes work made me want to become an aerospace engineer.
Why did you choose your STEM field? Were you inspired by someone?
I was always an engineer at heart. Becoming a pilot made me want to be an engineer in real life too.
What are some really cool things that people in your profession work on?
Aerospace engineers make people's lives better! Right now people in my field are working on supersonic airplanes that can take you halfway around the world in just a few hours. Others are working on autonomous flying vehicles that will help us fly right over traffic. There are teams of people helping us explore other planets, and some are even working on sending humans to Mars!
What inspirational message would you give young girls to inspire them to pursue STEM?
Aerospace Engineering is so fascinating. The classes are hard, but they are doable. And when you're done you have an opportunity to make aviation safer and faster, and help humanity explore and understand the universe. It's inspiring work and it's fun!
Thank you for contributing, Tara!
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