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October 19, 2016

Badass Ladies You Should Know: Erin Winick

Kate Hart
Erin Winnick wearing a safety glasses, lab gloves, and a blue dress she sewed
Lots of people have two jobs, but rarely are those two jobs as challenging -- and seemingly separate -- as mechanical engineering and jewelry design. Erin Winick's online startup is already making waves, garnering CNN coverage and rave reviews. But what really drives her isn't just a love of science: she loves to make things, whether they're discoveries, wearable art, articles for the New York Times, or this interview full of great insight.

Young Erin with a Lego tower
Kate: Describe your career(s) and/or current projects. What path(s) and passions led you there?

Erin: I am a student at the University of Florida graduating with a mechanical engineering degree this December, but this summer I am actually interning in Santa Rosa, CA with Keysight technologies while running my company, Sci Chic. Growing up I have always loved science and making things. I constructed massive Rube Goldberg machines around my parents’ house, sewed my Halloween costumes, and built big LEGO towers. I rented stacks of Bill Nye DVDs from the library. When it came to finally selecting my major in college I gravitated toward the degree that teaches you problem solving and how to create new things, mechanical engineering. On top of that, I grew up in Florida surrounded by the space program and loving watching shuttle launches out in my front yard.

Kate: Do you have any (other) creative outlets? How do they influence/affect your main work (if at all)? 

Erin: I am an engineer with a heart full of art. I am the weird engineer that likes to write. I love sewing, fashion and costume design. I use 3D printing as a creative outlets. All of this has led me really focus on science communication in addition to my degree. I love combining all of my interests in new ways. I truly believe science is creative, fun and fashionable and I am on a mission to show that.

I have made everything from galaxy themed dresses to Ms. Frizzle costumes. I have written for the New York Times and Business in Greater Gainesville. If someone gives me a chance to make things I jump on that opportunity.

Kate: What's your biggest challenge?

Erin: Figuring out which route to take next! I graduate this December and I am tossing around a lot of options of the next path for me to take. I love entrepreneurship and science writing and am going to at least pursue them part time upon graduation, but I am also debating going in full force as a science communicator or going into industry or a grad school program I love. I am definitely applying to the MIT Media Lab upon graduation as they have an absolutely amazing program that I think really fits my personality and love of creation. Balancing all of these different things isn’t easy and can be draining at times, but it is a true labor of love.

Sci Chic Moon Phase Necklace
 Kate: What's the best compliment you've ever gotten?

Erin: The best compliment I have ever received is that I am a really genuine person. After going to a conference with a friend, the friend told me tons of people came up to them later and told them they loved my genuine and real passion for what I am doing. It meant so much to me that this really came across and people could see how much I care about encouraging women in STEM and showing the creativity in STEAM.

Sci Chic Circuit Board NecklaceKate: Did you have any defining moments that galvanized your understanding of and/or commitment to feminism? How does it inform/inspire your work? 

Erin: When I was leaving one of my previous jobs on the last day, one guy told me, “You are such a great engineer. Now don’t become a mom and ruin all that.” I wish I could say I had a great response, but I didn’t. I just nodded my head and walked away. It really shocked me that someone would say that. As I thought about it later on and wished I had stood up for myself at the moment, it made me want to prepare for a situation like that in the future. Comments like that can’t be ignored and it has sparked my motivation even more to encourage more women and diversity in STEM.

Erin in her homemade Ms. Frizzle costumeKate: What are the best ways to support other women?

Erin: Reach behind you and pull others up with you. Do not be afraid to extend a hand. Help without the expectation of getting something in return, and the returns will come in ways that you never expected.

Kate: What is your advice to aspiring badasses?

Erin: Whatever it is that you love and are good at can be shaped into a career. You would be surprised. Talk to anyone and everyone you can. Learn about them and their passions. Then stay connected. You never know what person you meet could be the key to your future or will give you a once in a lifetime opportunity.


Erin Winick is a mechanical engineering student at the University of Florida and the founder of Sci Chic, a company that creates science and engineering-inspired jewelry using 3D printing.  Erin is a passionate advocate for women in STEM and entrepreneurship and an active member of the Society of Women Engineers. Erin has interned at Keysight Technologies, John Deere, Solar Turbines and Bracken Engineering and published on 3D printing outreach. In her free time she enjoys making, especially sewing and costume design, hiking, and singing along to Hamilton and Something Rotten cast albums.

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