When did you become interested in engineering?
I actually didn't decide on my major until I was in college. I entered the University of Florida as an exploratory engineering major and declared mechanical engineering my sophomore year. However, I have always had a big interest in science and making things. As a kid, I built huge LEGO towers and Rube Goldberg machines in my parent's living room. Also, growing up in Florida, the space program has always been a big part of my life. I always ran outside to see launches from my front lawn and drove across the state to see the final shuttle launch. In a way, engineering has always been a part of my life.
What is your favorite class you have taken at UF?
My favorite class was Design and Manufacturing Lab. In this class you learn how to use a bunch of large machinery and manufacturing tools like welding, plasma cutting, milling, sheet metal manipulation, etc. You then use these techniques and Computer Aided Design tools to build your own robot to complete a challenge. It was a lot of fun and I gained a lot of skills from the experience that I have pulled on many times since.
You have interned at many different companies. Can you tell us about your overall experience? What is one thing you learned that you would not have known otherwise?
I have loved having the chance to try out so many different companies. They all operate differently and it is super cool to see behind the scenes of it all. At John Deere, I got to learn how to drive tractors, go out and visit farmers, fly to Iowa, and study in depth about the workings of tractors. At Solar Turbines, I got to see how precise manufacturing has to be to make something work to its best. The balancing of turbine blades is so crucial that they are made with extreme care.
You combine fashion with science and also have an awesome Ms. Frizzle cosplay costume. How did you come up with the idea for Sci Chic?
Growing up, I've always loved fashion and sewing. Throughout college, I learned more about 3D printing and loved it. During my junior year as president of the Society of Women Engineers, we held a 3D printing outreach day. I saw the impact on the kids as they learned to 3D model and saw their creations come to life. I knew I wanted to do something entrepreneurial my senior year, so I decided to combine all of these passions and experiences into a company. The Frizzle costume actually came before all of this! I 3D printed the Saturn earrings and sewed the dress. I think that was the first science inspired jewelry I ever 3D printed!
Are there any new Sci Chic products in the works?
Our biggest thing coming soon is our subscription box! We are going to have one for kids and one for adults, each full of science fashion with a different theme every month. The kids box will also have educational materials and role models for the girls to look up to. A lot of the items will be exclusive to the box as well! Sign ups for the first box close December 19th. You can find more info here: https://www.scichic.com/pages/science-fashion-subscription-box
What do you like to do in your free time?
I still love to sew! Since starting Sci Chic most of my sewing has been science related, but I still love sewing costumes as well. I am also a big hiker. I actually drove cross country this summer and visited 10 national parks along the way. Being in nature is my favorite way to relax.
Why do you think more girls should be involved in STEM?
I think there are still a lot of misconceptions about what STEM is that drive girls away. We need people with different passions and backgrounds to enter the field to truly be our best. More than ever engineers need to be well rounded people with a variety of passions and skills. We need artists, entrepreneurs, public speakers, builders and more.
What advice would you give to girls who are interested in pursuing engineering?
Be confident in yourself and tell people about your passion. There are so many people that want to help and encourage you, including programs to apply for and individual women engineers. Don't be afraid to ask questions and ask for help. Also, start making things! Making is a great way to get practice in engineering basics and explore the different areas of engineering. Be curious, be persistent and be creative.
You can find Erin on Instagram @erinwinick and on Twitter @bcofengineering. Check out Sci Chic and her personal website! 🌟