Erin Winick is a science communications specialist for the International Space Station. She is the CEO of Sci Chic which creates, 3D printed Science Jewelry. She has a BS in Mechanical Engineering, and is a self-professed Science Fashionista!
INTRODUCE YOURSELF! TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR FORMAL AND INFORMAL EDUCATION.
Hi everyone! I am currently working for a NASA contractor to help communicate the science being performed on the space station, but my education was actually in mechanical engineering. I've freelance wrote for the past 5 years and run my jewelry company on the side, learning throughout all of that. I'm working at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON OR SKILL YOU LEARNED INSIDE THE CLASSROOM OR LAB?
Engineers are problem solvers. Sure you learn the technical aspects of machining, design and fluid dynamics, but getting trained as an engineer is getting trained in problem-solving.
WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON OR SKILL YOU LEARNED OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM?
There are a lot more career paths out there than you might think. In college, most of my friends either picked working an engineer in industry or going into research. Having that background can prepare you for a lot more. Entrepreneurship, writing, and more. It takes a lot of effort and self-awareness to carve out your own path, but it is worth it.
It takes a lot of effort and self-awareness to carve out your own path, but it is worth it.
HOW DID YOU START YOUR 3D PRINTING JEWELRY BUSINESS? DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR BUDDING SCIENCE-FASHION ENTREPRENEURS?
In college, I was debating getting an entrepreneurship minor, or starting a company. One of my professors told me I'd learn more by starting my own company. He was absolutely right. I started it in college as a way to combine my passions to create something positive. Something that would spark everyday conversations about science and show off the fashionable side of science. For budding science fashion entrepreneurs, my advice is to reach out to others in the community. There are more of us than you think and we all share a similar mission. At the same time, embrace what makes your products, style, and art unique, and show that off as much as you can.
I started Sci Chic in college as a way to combine my passions to create something positive. Something that would spark everyday conversations about science and show off the fashionable side of science.
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR ROLE AT THE ISS? WHAT CAREER ADVICE CAN YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE WHO IS LOOKING FOR A BUSINESS OR COMMUNICATIONS ROLE AT NASA WHO DOES NOT HAVE A BACKGROUND IN ENGINEERING?
So I'm weird in that I have an engineering background and went into communications. I, get this, applied online. Which I realize is extremely uncommon to actually get jobs that way. But there are a lot of people I work with who come from all over. My biggest advice would be to take jobs that help you hone your skills to make your own path to NASA. Everyone at NASA has a different background so it's hard to give a specific path to follow. That's at all levels from business to the astronauts. Another piece of advice is to look for jobs at NASA contractors! There are a huge number of opportunities with them, and you work right alongside the civil servants on site. Don't think of these jobs as any less than those offered by NASA itself. Many people don't realize that's where many people who work at NASA are actually employed, including me. I work for Barrios Technology.
My biggest advice would be to take jobs that help you hone your skills to make your own path to NASA. Everyone at NASA has a different background so it's hard to give a specific path to follow.
WHO WAS YOUR MOST MEMORABLE TEACHER? WHAT IS ONE LESSON YOU YOU’VE LEARNED THAT YOU’D LIKE YOUNG GIRLS GROWING UP TODAY TO KNOW?
It's ok if you don't know your next move. If you like something, try it out. Don't worry about what the people around you are doing. You have to live your own life and learn what you enjoy.
WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING RIGHT NOW (OR FAVOURITE BOOK)?
Right now I'm actually reading the second book in my husband's LitRPG Nova Online series. It's called Renegade. It's kind of like if Ready Player One met Halo or Starship Troopers meets Starcraft. He's a sci-fi fantasy writer. I may be biased, but I think it's pretty great!
WHAT DID YOU LEARN TODAY?
Wow, I learn so much everyday. Since I'm covering the hundreds of experiments going on aboard the space station, I'm learning about everything from robotics to biology. I think today though I learned that one of the experiments is studying how the stuff that covers asteroids, also known as regolith, moves. It's being studied by observing some different simulated regolith aboard the station.