Final Five

Q&A with Shinjini Das, international STEM education advocate and digital strategist at Iron Horse Interactive

Shinjini Das, an industrial engineer who graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology, is a professional speaker and advocate for STEM education for younger girls and a contributor to The Huffington Post.Shinjini Das, international STEM education advocate and digital strategist at Iron Horse Interactive 

When did you first develop an interest in a STEM career or industrial engineering?

As a senior in high school, I was very interested in discovering a discipline that combined my passions in business, people and analytics into a major that had the capability to impact the world. In retrospect, I was fortunate to have chanced upon industrial engineering at Georgia Tech, which has an unparalleled track record of excellence. The potential to utilize my background in an analytical capacity to drive business transformation via increasing process efficiencies was thrilling.

You're a recent college graduate (2014). Do you have a long-term career plan?

Georgia Tech afforded me such a versatile educational foundation, especially considering the analytical rigor that accompanies an industrial engineering education. As of now, the field of digital marketing is extraordinarily exciting to me, as the objective is to execute targeted, measurable and interactive marketing campaigns utilizing the latest technology in order to provide data-driven insights to enable companies to convert leads into customers and promote brands. Looking toward the future, digital marketing will become significantly more data driven, and I am thrilled to explore the potential of gaining future expertise and experience in this dynamic and ever-evolving realm.

Why did you decide to become a STEM education advocate for girls?

I feel a deep responsibility to utilize my platform to spread awareness about the potential impact of a STEM education, specifically advocating to motivate young girls to pursue college degrees in engineering. An analytical and problem-solving-based skillset that an engineering education provides is incredibly powerful toward solving some of the world's most pressing societal problems, and we most definitely should be utilizing the brilliant talents of girls in this field.

Do most young women you speak to about engineering careers already show an active interest in STEM?

The majority of the young women I have spoken to do indeed show an active interest in STEM, but simultaneously, they are keen to discover more about the field. On a personal note, I emphasize the potential of their work in STEM as an engineer or scientist to affect world change because it is important for young women to be able to successfully visualize the massive impact their work could have in shaping the direction of the future. I encourage all parents of these young women to expose them to science experiments and STEM-based learning activities from a young age.

What industries could benefit more today from women with engineering backgrounds or expertise?

Any industry today would benefit from a higher percentage of women with engineering backgrounds or expertise, but one in particular that is very close to my heart is the field of business. An interesting fact is that engineers represented three of the top five spots on Fortune's 2014 Most Powerful Women list, indicating that we are in the midst of a shift toward effective business leadership that utilizes the analytical background and problem-solving skillset innate to a STEM degree. In addition, the ability to engage in data-driven decision-making is critical to success of business leaders today, another reason a STEM degree proves to be unparalleled.

– Interview by Ashlyn Kirk 

Ashlyn Kirk is the former Web managing editor for IIE.