CREATE Scholar Tara Hartman

A Q & A with one of the scholars from the NSF-funded "Creating Retention and Engagement for Academically Talented Engineers" program. Tara Hartman is a member of the second cohort of CREATE program scholars.

Tara Hartman on choosing biomedical engineering: "...biomedical engineering was the perfect combination of everything I was interested in: engineering, biology, coding, computer science, and math."

CREATE Scholar Tara Hartman

A Q & A with one of the scholars from the NSF-funded "Creating Retention and Engagement for Academically Talented Engineers" program. Tara Hartman is a member of the second cohort of CREATE program scholars.

Tara Hartman on choosing biomedical engineering: "...biomedical engineering was the perfect combination of everything I was interested in: engineering, biology, coding, computer science, and math."

Tara Hartman on choosing biomedical engineering: "...biomedical engineering was the perfect combination of everything I was interested in: engineering, biology, coding, computer science, and math."

Hometown: Castlegregory, County Kerry, Ireland
Biomedical engineering (class of 2024)

What got you interested in engineering?

I went to a high school that offered a Project Lead the Way STEM program. Growing up I was always interested in building and making things, and my older brother said it was a good program, so I applied. The program taught basic engineering principles and introduced us to the different engineering careers and opportunities. We learned the engineering design process, how to draft designs, how to create 3D models and prints, and so much more. That class was the first introduction I had to the engineering process and it opened my eyes to the world of engineering.

I was confused on what I wanted to do after high school. I loved the creativity and building aspects of engineering; some of my fondest high school memories are building robots and coding them in my STEM class. But I have also always loved the medical field, learning about how the different parts of the body interacted and created functioning beings. The anatomy and physiology class I took in Junior year of high school cemented that interest so much more. I did not think there was any crossover with the engineering field and the medical and biology fields, until I learned about biomedical engineering. I do not remember exactly how I found out about it, but biomedical engineering was the perfect combination of everything I was interested in: engineering, biology, coding, computer science, and math.

What impact do you hope to have through your engineering career?

While the actual job of engineering and what comes with that is important to me, the main impact I want to make in my career is to help other young women join the STEM field. Part of the reason I am able to afford college is because of scholarships from other women who want to help women in traditionally male-dominated fields. I want to be able to help other young girls and women, whether it be through funding scholarships, or through starting programs for K-12 students to get interested in engineering and other STEM careers. I remember the gender imbalance in my high school engineering classes, as well as other STEM classes like computer science.

What does the CREATE program mean to you?

To me the CREATE program means support and resources. I get support from my peer and faculty mentors. Because of the program, I have support financially, and through multiple people I can look to answer any questions I have, whether the question is about career goals or the best place to eat on campus. It has also provided me a plethora of resources that I would not know about otherwise, like campus resources and programs, and internship and scholarship opportunities.

In what ways has your peer mentor helped you?

My peer mentor has helped me by talking to me about the student side of things in college, and how university actually operates outside of the pandemic. My mentor, Olivia, also provides advice from a student perspective, which a faculty person may not be able to give. She has also always been easy to talk to, even about things not related to school.

What advice would you give someone looking to follow in your footsteps?

The best advice I could give would be to ask questions about everything. If you are interested in a program or activity, research it and ask people who would know about it. You could find out you are interested in something you never would have thought about before, or you could make new friends. Dig around to see different things you can learn about or do.

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