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#STEMStories: Kaitlyn, STEM Advocate and Speaker, USA

1. Say hi :) who are you what do you do?

Hello, my name is Kaitlyn Ludlam, a.k.a AstroBot Kaitlyn. I am a Junior in High School and a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) advocate and speaker.

2. How did you arrive at this career? Was it always something you knew you wanted to do?

I became an advocate after I was awarded scholarship to space camp for an essay I wrote for a contest. The creator the scholarship become one of my biggest mentors and she encouraged me to pass it forward and become an advocate for girls and other kids in STEM. I had always been involved in STEM my entire life; as a I kid, I would spend hours playing with Legos, and I brought that love to robots. Now, I work on software for 120 pound, Aluminum robots and design/ hardware for smaller, Aluminum robots; both on FIRST robotics teams.

3. What about your job makes you jump out of bed in the morning, especially on those cold, dark mornings?

What gets me to the shop to work on robots is a nice, hot cup of coffee and the ideas of what I can get that robot to accomplish.

4. What is your personal cure for stress or how do you raise your spirits in times of doubt? Can you share a Story?

My personal cure for stress is either a cup of coffee (not at night, though), a few minutes of meditation, or quick yoga session. It’s important to take time for your health.

5. Who is your role model? If no one, any thoughts on this?

My role model is Dr. Serena Chancellor. She is an astronaut and doctor! I met her at my Space Camp Graduation in 2017; she flipped my name badge! I’ve always had an interest in engineering, the medical field, and space. Her work is very inspiring. She even went to the International Space Station in Expedition 57 last June and is there today!

6. What advice would you give to your 18 year old self?

I would tell my 18 year-old self: Make sure to take care of yourself and to not give up on your dreams. You may be stressed or feel stuck in a ‘boy’s club’, but you are good enough and smart enough to push through and succeed.

7. Top 3 tips for girls starting out in STEM?

For girls who are just starting out in STEM, I would say:

  1. Don’t be intimidated. STEM is really fun, and you can do it.
  2. You may feel uncomfortable and out of place, but you belong there.
  3. Don’t let anyone bully you out of it.

8.  How do you measure your success?

Success and failure are natural parts of engineering. Success is when your robot vision camera works or your robot performs at competition. I also find success in outreach. Letting other girls know they too can be an engineer or go into a STEM field. I have extremely high expectations for myself and I find success in grades too. Speaking on Capital Hill or in front of an audience full of low income elementary students is very rewarding.

9.  Where can we find out more about your work?

I started social media in 2017 to share my adventures at Space Camp USA in Huntsville, Alabama, my outreach, and to encourage girls to become involved in STEM. I still go on many adventures (in New York, Boston, Chicago, etc,) and I work on many STEM Teams (using lots of robots). I lead math teams, I design robots, I program robots, and a I have lots of fun with Sign Language and videography. I started as a Student Space Ambassador (SSA) with the Mars Generation Nonprofit, in which I have been recognized as a Top 24 under 24-years-old Leader and Innovator in Space and STEAM. I also have many friends in a group called the STEAM Squad (including my mentor and best friend Astronaut Starbright, who pushed me to start a few years ago).

10. Are you social? Will you share your Twitter handle, or LinkedIn profile, or Facebook so that young women can connect with you?

Facebook: AstroBot Kaitlyn
Twitter: @AstroBotKaitlyn 
Instagram:
astrobot_kaitlyn
LinkedIn:
Kaitlyn Ludlam