MIT Engineer Emily Calandrelli wowed Middle School students as she shared her experience as a television host and female aerospace engineer on Monday, December 3.
"I get people excited about science and space exploration," explained Ms. Calandrelli. She is the host and executive producer of the program Xploration Outer Space, a correspondent on Bill Nye Save the World, and the author of a new children's book series, Ada Lace Adventures.
Known as "The Space Gal," Ms. Calandrelli told students that when growing up she was "intimidated by the smart kids in her class. But with hard work and dedication, you can make yourself one of the smart kids." In high school Ms. Calandrelli liked math and eventually earned two graduate degrees from MIT, one in Aeronautics and Astronautics and the other in Technology and Policy.
"Ms. Calandrelli changed my perspective on aerospace engineering. I thought that it was going to be very boring, but from her fun experiences, it changed my mind!" shared Maya Raman '25. "The presentation was very descriptive and funny. She showed passion in her words, and she spoke with confidence."
Students were especially intrigued with Ms. Calandrelli's experience flying on the so-called "vomit comet" which is used to simulate weightlessness by making roller-coaster-like maneuvers in the air on a plane. "We have more people exploring space than any other time in history," said Ms. Calandrelli.
Developing and building reusable rockets is also a priority in the aerospace industry.
Maya's takeaway? "Try different things, and take risks!"
"Be willing to ask questions," said Ms. Calandrelli. She urged students to consider studies and careers in STEM-related fields. "Careers in STEM give you the tools to make the world a better place."
Ms. Calandrelli also met with members of the Middle School robotics team and visited Middle and Upper School science classes throughout the day.
Established through the generosity of the Clare Foundation, the goal of the specialized STEM speakers series is to expose students and faculty to dynamic, innovative, and creative thought leaders across a range of STEM areas and sectors. The series also offers faculty the opportunity to learn from both content area experts and STEM education leaders in an effort to improve pedagogy and practice. Discussions and ideas that are created from the Speaker Series will further expand curricular opportunities for students and may spark the development of new programs.