Ms. Whitaker’s passion for STEM education began over many years ago as she was appointed Director of K-12 Outreach for The University of Iowa College of Engineering (2007-2011). She is frequently asked if she is an engineer. Although she dreams of someday becoming an engineer, she can identify four reasons as to why she currently is not: 1) As a teenager, she did not know any engineers nor have any as mentors; 2) Growing up, she did not know about the field of engineering, nor about its various opportunities; 3) As a young girl, she did not have any female role models in the STEM fields; and 4) During her youth, she did not have a “wow!” moment – in which she was inspired to become an engineer.
Ms. Whitaker currently serves as the Affiliate Partner for the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) program. As Affiliate Partner, she is responsible for securing funds for FTC, organizing FTC events, workshops, communicating with coaches, sponsors, volunteers and mentors. She serves as the first point of contact for FTC in the State of Iowa.
Ms. Whitaker is currently pursing credits towards an engineering degree.