June 5, 2024, Logan, Utah, 

By Isabelle and Alli

Encouraging Representation: Regan Tracy’s STEM Exploration and Outreach Efforts to Promote Diversity 

Recently, we had the privilege of interviewing Regan Tracy, one of the Student Pathway Recipients at the 2023 Women Tech Council Awards. Tracy is a Utah State University student studying mechanical engineering with a space exploration focus. As a champion of fostering STEM outreach, Tracy encourages underrepresented groups to pursue STEM fields.

Tracy grew up in West Point in Weber County. Starting at the age of ten, her interest in space exploration flourished after attending the Astro Space Camp at Odyssey Elementary in Ogden for a total of six years.

Regan's experience at Astro Space Camp cultivated a desire to study anything space-related, to hone in on a specialized focus, and ultimately work for NASA.

While Astro Space Camp operated at Odyssey Elementary from 2007 to 2019, and was discontinued due to the pandemic, a similar program in the area is the Douglas Space and Science Foundation, headed by Annika Jensen, who herself participated in Astro Space Camp in her youth.

In her senior year of high school, Regan joined a FIRST robotics team, which exposed her to mechanical engineering. As she studied throughout high school, her focus on space exploration became more specialized in biomathematics. She was fascinated by the idea of conducting plant experiments in zero-gravity environments and used mathematical models to measure processes that constantly change.

While studying at Utah State University, Tracy received the opportunity to work as a student employee at the Space Dynamics Laboratory as a manufacturing specialist. Her roles included assisting with programs, tracking parts for machine shops, and drafting electronic components for NASA Department of Defense projects.

Recently, she transferred to become a mechanical engineering assistant at the Laboratory. With this new position, Tracy works to develop thermal straps to drive heat away in zero gravity environments to protect sensitive electronics and telescopes.

In addition to her work in the Space Dynamics Laboratory, Tracy was named Miss Engineering for the USU Engineering College due to her outreach efforts.

In April 2023, as Miss Engineering and representing USU's College of Engineering, Tracy was crowned Miss USU 2023, a pageant organized by the USU Student Alumni Association. Its an initiative to create a more inclusive environment for women and underrepresented groups in STEM and higher education and recognize achievement in STEM. Thirteen contestants were considered.

Tracy continues to provide STEM outreach to underrepresented communities in her new role. Her goal is to encourage people of different genders, ethnicities, races, and perspectives to have their voices heard in the STEM industry.

Her goal of fostering STEM outreach was essential to communities where students were unaware of the possibilities and options for them in these industries. She mentioned how girls in middle school lose interest in STEM due to an absence of role models and negative peer pressure. Tracy’s goal is to address the lack of role models in the STEM industry and eliminate self-doubt in underrepresented communities by serving as a role model and participating in public speaking events to share her journey.

As an engineer and a pageant queen, she loves to explain to little girls about the options and possibilities available to them, regardless of their interests. When asked about advice she could give to current high schoolers and college students, she mentioned how “getting rejected from what you want just redirects you on a new path to getting what you need. She added that “rejection is simply redirection to a future you didn’t know you could be so happy in.” This mindset of switching gears and pivoting to a new path is crucial for mental health and personal development.

To further guide girls in STEM, Tracy emphasized the importance of being involved, having people skills, being a lifelong learner, and networking at every stage of their lives. The most important thing to remember is that “when one door closes, another one opens.” Tracy added, “When in doubt, look up to Elle Woods,” as she never gave up. 

 

Isabelle and Alli are 2023-24 SheTech-TechBuzz media interns. They both attend DaVinci Academy of Science and the Arts in Ogden, Utah. Isabelle is a SheTech Student Board member and is the author of the above article. Alli participates in SheTech events, including Explorer Day. Alli interviews women tech leaders throughout the state, including 2023 Women Tech Award finalists and awardees.

Pageant photo credit: Claire Ott

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