Cassie Roby (@miss.jacksonville) Interview

Interview #1

Cassie Roby (@miss.jacksonville)

  • Official preliminary for Miss Florida

  • Advocates heavily for women in STEM

  • Talks about issues women face in STEM/percentages

  • Womeninstemamerica.com (Mentoring System)

  • Masters in Mechanical Engineering.


What is your job?

I currently work for Northrop Grumman Space Systems as a Spacecraft Thermal Engineer. Northrop Grumman is a defense contractor, like Boeing or Lockheed Martin, that bids on government contracts. As a Spacecraft Thermal Engineer, I run analysis to ensure everything on the spacecraft will be able to survive and perform when required according to the mission. To do this I have to take into account heating by the sun, Earth's albedo, Earth’s infrared energy, and eclipses.  

When did you first realize you wanted to do STEM?

After growing up near Eglin Airforce Base, I always knew I wanted to do something to give back to my country, which has done so much for me. I always enjoyed math and science and knew that God had given me these skills and that I should use them for what I am so passionate about. 

Who were your role models growing up?

My role models have always been my baton twirling coaches. I have been twirling since the 4th grade and have learned so much from them. My middle school and high school coach taught me to always have faith in God and give glory to his name. My college coach taught me how to believe in myself and never give up. The lessons they taught me extended past the football field into my everyday life. I am forever thankful for them.

Did you ever want to do anything else?

Yes! Coming out of high school I was an accounting major and then switched to statistics. My goal was still to do something to serve my country which is how I found myself in Mechanical Engineering and Northrop Grumman. 

Tell us about your mechanical engineering background!

I studied Mechanical Engineering at Florida State University where I did a 4+1 program. This allowed me to get my bachelors and masters in five years. Throughout my five years, I did three internships, one with BNSF Railway and two with Northrop Grumman. In school, I focused on thermal fluids and did research within the Cryogenics group at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory. 

What are your personal projects?

Women in STEM America is a STEM Mentorship website I created! As Miss Jacksonville, my social impact initiative is Women in STEM. I chose this initiative because of my own experiences being a Woman in STEM and because I learned that many young women are interested in STEM, but lack mentors. They don’t even read about female scientists in their history or science textbooks! I saw a need for Women in STEM mentors so I launched this program in June 2020. The process is simple and FREE! If you are or know someone who is a young woman grades 1-12 interested in STEM they just go to the website and register to be a mentee. If you are or know a female STEM college student, professional, or retiree they just go to the website and register to be a mentor. Each mentor is required to dedicate at least 30 minutes a month to their mentee. This can be done through email, text, Facetime, zoom, or once COVID is over, in person. I personally match the mentor/mentee pairs based on interest and location! So far this program has spread across 19 US States and Germany! I am so amazed and thankful for all the people who have bought into this program so far. I can’t wait to see where it goes from here!

Aside from my Women in STEM initiative, I work as a Real Talk ambassador. Real Talk is an educational program for middle school to college-aged students that teaches them about alcohol and drug substance abuse. I help reinforce the importance of this message by sharing how I’ve seen both alcohol and drug abuse within my family. This helps make me and the message more relatable and impactful. Through Real Talk, I hope to inspire young students to take a stand when faced with peer pressure. I also hope to inspire them to do what is right, even when it’s hard. Real Talk is provided free by the advanced recovery systems and anyone interested in setting up a presentation just needs to message me! There is also more information at https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/real-talk/.

Tell us about being Miss Jacksonville!

Being Miss Jacksonville is a dream! I have always loved the Miss America Organization and I regret waiting so long to join. The Miss Florida organization is so unique and special, always coming up with new ways for us to get involved in our community or work together. Even though I haven’t met all the Miss Florida candidates yet, I already know I have created some life long friends. 

How has Covid-19 affected you?

Unfortunately, due to COVID a lot of my appearances for the summer were canceled, but that hasn’t stopped me! On top of WomeninSTEMAmerica.com, I have created at-home STEM activities on my Miss Jacksonville Instagram and Facebook pages. These activities are designed to provide simple science experiments to students using a few common household items. This makes it easy for parents and teachers to provide a visual aid for learning.

Have you ever had any setbacks?

Yes! It was always my dream to be a Feature Twirler. Florida State has a rule that you have to be on the team for one year before you can be feature twirler, so after my first year I auditioned for Feature Twirler and didn't get the position. My dreams were crushed. To be honest, it took me a couple of months to really get back into twirling again, but when I did I came back more motivated than ever. I practiced my personal routines on top of the team routines everyday. This was on top of my engineering school work and being a teachers’ assistant for thermodynamics. The next year I tried out again and my hard work paid off and I was given the position I had dreamed about for years. Looking back there are so many people I need to thank from my parents and coaches to teammates and classmates who helped me juggle everything I was doing. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. 

What’s one thing you’d like to change about the STEM community?

If I could change anything about the STEM community I would change the number of women. The ratio of men to women on earth is about 50/50, but in STEM, women make only 29%. The lack of diversity at the STEM table hinders innovation and the advancement of human discovery. 

Is there a problem with sexism in the STEM community?

Yes, there is a problem with sexism in the STEM community. Gender discrimination, implicit bias, and imposter syndrome are just a few of the challenges women in STEM face. In fact, 61% of women engineers report that they have to prove themselves repeatedly to get the same level of respect and recognition as their colleagues. In another study, when compared to men, women reported that their careers progress more slowly and that they received fewer career resources and opportunities. 

What’s your message for young teens wanting to do STEM?

My message is to believe you can! That is the first step. If you don’t believe you can, why should anyone else? There are so many opportunities in STEM, if you don’t find your passion right away there is no need to worry. Follow your heart and seek mentorship. 

What is your favorite science joke?

How do you organize a party in Space?

You planet! 

What is the most embarrassing moment in your life?

When I was a feature twirler for Florida State, I remember this one time where I was twirling during pregame and I tossed the baton to do a trick and during the trick, I completely wiped out, fell on my butt, and dropped the baton. To make it worse it was right in front of the student section!

What is your favorite food?

My favorite food is anything chocolate! Specifically, chocolate cake pops or ice cream! I have a large sweet tooth, so I have to remember to have sweets in moderation.  

What can be done to make STEM more diverse?

More opportunities! The STEM field is very difficult which is why students need mentors and opportunities to succeed. To increase diversity we need to give students opportunities to learn about STEM in an environment of others like them. To be able to see yourself in someone you look up to is so important. This can be done through guest speakers, mentorship programs, after school clubs, the list goes on and on!

Has being a woman impacted your career in STEM? 

Being a woman in STEM has impacted my career because it causes people to look at me differently. I have been told, “you only got the job because you’re pretty.” This has caused me to have to work even harder to get the same amount of respect that a man in my position would get. This bias isn’t just a problem I face, but a problem all women in STEM face. My hope is by empowering the next generation of women to join STEM, I can help move the needle to end some of these biases. 


A huge thank you to Cassie for joining us today! Be sure to subscribe to receive more STEM-related content coming to your inbox.

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Jessica Zheng

Sci4Teens