CCU News / Opinion

Women In STEM Series – Meet Heidi Mattson

Meet Heidi Mattson! She is a first-year Industrial and Systems Engineering Major here at CCU. Growing up, her favorite subject was math because this was where she was able to excel the most and it was a subject that always clicked in her mind.

To Heidi, being a Woman in STEM was daunting at first. In her engineering classes, there are about 10-11 guys and then one other girl with Heidi, which is different from her high school experience. As a Woman in STEM, Heidi wants others to believe in themselves because sometimes you can be underestimated. However, Heidi wants to make sure that others know that she is just as capable and knows what she is talking about.

This past summer, she went to the Air & Space Museum with her grandpa who used to be a rocket scientist for AeroJet.  As she stayed with him, he would explain how the rockets worked and Heidi was in awe standing by him because at his age of 90, he was still so sharp and explained each concept well. She is also fascinated by all the math and physics behind engineering and how God decided to make all things work so well together as well as giving people the proper understanding. She mentioned that engineering is able to push the limits of what has existed. People have even come up with new math in the middle of projects that they have done, which is why Aerospace is a huge draw to her since they had to come up with the math as they were creating.

Heidi’s grandpa is a huge inspiration as to why she wants to become an engineer because this summer was when she was able to have an in-depth conversation and  also hear the stories he had to share with her. She also looks up to Katherine Johnson (formerly known as Katherine Goble) whose life is portrayed in the movie Hidden Figures.

Hidden Figures is her favorite movie and Heidi sometimes watches it to motivate her since Katherine was able to create when the math did not exist, which motivates Heidi to keep going since the math does exist.

Heidi’s favorite classes at CCU have been both Chemistry for Engineers and Calculus. Although Calculus is hard when she does not understand the concepts, she really enjoys Calculus the most and enjoys doing her assignments. Chemistry is very interesting to Heidi because she loves seeing the breakdown of what is going on around us and to be able to see how God perfectly crafted everything to work together is also really cool.

Previously, Heidi was a Biblical Studies major. However, her first semester at CCU, she did enjoy math so she took Calculus I to give math one more chance and see where this choice would lead her. She became excited to do her calculus homework and was eager to learn more. Then, she talked to the dean of engineering and other engineering students which encouraged her to change her major to Industrial and Systems Engineering.

Some challenges that Heidi has faced is the feeling of being overwhelmed, and since she picked up more engineering classes, she sometimes finds herself drowning in her schoolwork. To combat this feeling, she works hard to manage her time accordingly. She also is becoming more okay with admitting that she needs help and that it does not make her weaker because she is asking for help. The social aspect of being one of two girls in her classes has been daunting and new to Heidi, but she constantly reminds herself that just because she is a girl, it does not make her incapable of learning. She lets her classmates know that she will listen to what they have to say as long as they will listen to her. She also lets them know that she will respect others as much as they respect her, kind of like an equal ground.

Some advice Heidi would give to other Women in STEM is that they should be okay with admitting that they need help because it is worse to sit in class, lost with what is being taught than receiving help when nobody else will. Some words of encouragement to other Women in STEM is that you are capable with a lot more than you think. Heidi started with a Biblical and Religious Studies major because it seemed more reasonable, but she knew that Aerospace fascinated her. However, she thought that Aerospace was too far off and that she was not smart enough.

Heidi says that,”You should not put limits on yourself just because something is hard because God will give you the strength that you need, and your hard work will flourish.”

Heidi continuously reminds herself that God will bring her though the hard stuff even when she doubts herself or thinks that engineering is too hard of a field to go into. She also reminds herself that God has a plan for her, and He will guide her to the right path and never let anything slip out of her grip if it is supposed to happen. Something that He has planned for her life is not going to go away and she will take advantage of the right opportunities that He will carry her though even when it is a little bit messy.

One thing Heidi wants others to know about her is that she is really passionate about bringing the opportunity of studying STEM to countries that need it the most, like countries that have small villages and hardly have any advancement. She wants those people to have better educations and be able to help their communities build each other up!

It was such a pleasure to interview Heidi and get to know her story! Stay tuned for more stories!

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