By Poornima Peiris
Erin Winnick is a passionate science communicator and the founder of a STEM (Science, Engineering and Math) inspired jewelry line, Sci Chic. From a young age, Erin had a keen eye for building things from LEGO sets to dresses and various other contraptions. Her love of creativity and building things led her to earn a mechanical engineering degree from University of Florida. As an undergraduate, she completed summer internships at Bracken Engineering, Solar Turbines, Keysight Technologies and John Deere. Aside from developing her technical expertise, during her college career she fell in love with the field of science communication and outreach. She then ventured into free-lance writing, which led her to complete a science internship at the Economist as a science intern. She current serves as an associate editor for the Future of Work section in the MIT Technology Review.
Erin founded her jewelry company Sci Chic in 2015 as a junior in college in order to showcase the fashionable side of science. The jewelry is created using plastic and metal with 3D printed technology. The mission of Sci Chic is to give back to the STEM community and spark a creative dialogue about science communication. She hopes to expand the venture with new partnerships and collaborations with museums, brands, and other scientists. Currently she is working with the Princess Awesome clothing line to help create STEM inspired designs. She collaborates with a woman in STEM each month to feature them on the Sci Chic subscription box, so that their work gets more exposure and they can serve as role models for young kids. In the pursuit to make women in STEM more visible, “by giving them a piece of jewelry inspired by science, we are giving them a conversation starter to talk about their work and their passions,” says Erin.
Erin also speaks about being a STEM Entrepreneur and the importance of breaking out of your comfort zone, experimenting, and learning along the way. Erin says that the transition from engineer to entrepreneur took some work, as it was a bit of a risk straying from the routine path of research and industry. Through social media and the society of women engineers, she has found a supportive network. Erin says this is key for pursuing a path in STEM: “Social media is giving scientists a gateway to talk about their work to the public. I think it is an amazing tool to reach both kids and adults that want to see what the life of an engineer or scientist is like.” Her favorite social media platform is Instagram, through which she has managed to connect with other like-minded women and follow their journeys in STEM along the way.
Aside from her entrepreneurial pursuits, she has several interesting hobbies. One of them is creating costumes and cosplaying at conventions. One of her favorite costumes is Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus series. This past year she collaborated on an interesting project, which has led to her being featured on the back of the Marvel Comic, “The Unstoppable Wasp”. A friend who she had met at the convention had nominated her name to be included in the section. “Probably the coolest part of the whole thing was seeing my headshot turned into a comic book drawing,” says Erin. Aside from participating in conventions, Erin is an avid nature lover and has visited 10 US national parks. Currently, she is working on some exciting writing projects and further collaborations with Princess Awesome. You can follow Erin’s journey at: http://www.erinwinick.com/.
About the Author
Poornima Peiris is an engineer interested in all things STEM related. She is the founder of an initiative encouraging women and minorities to pursue STEM related careers. She has conducted research in various stem disciplines at national labs and was a participant of NASA's space grant program. She is currently working on producing her own science podcast with her local community. Her scientific contributions include a publication in a scientific journal & besides reading up on scientific innovations, she also loves to read books on neuroscience, paint landscapes & create personalized wedding gifts. Aside from dabbling in the creative arts, she does fencing & tennis. Always a Sri Lankan at heart, she loves the ocean & spring weather. She currently splits her time between Massachusetts & New York.
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