Ms. Jasmine L. Sadler
The STEAM Collaborative, CEO + Visionary
MBA Innovation & Entrepreneurship
BSE Aerospace Engineering, Math Minor
How did you select the University of Michigan?
The two deciding factors for me were that UM is one of the few universities in the country that offers a globally renowned Aerospace Engineering program, and that I got a full tuition scholarship based on my academics, contributed to by my ACT standardized test scores.
I am from Lathrup Village, MI, and my first encounter with UM was attending a Summer College Engineering Exposure Program (SCEEP) for two weeks and stayed at Bursley on North Campus. SCEEP is run by the University’s Center for Engineering Diversity and Outreach. Applicants have to meet rigorous academic standards demonstrated by recommendations, essays, and both academics and standardized test scores.
In SCEEP, I was exposed to Aerospace, Civil and Materials Science engineering, but ultimately, I graduated in 2009 with a degree in Aerospace engineering and a minor in math.
But what I remember most fondly about UM is the electricity of walking to the stadium on Football Saturday in a sea of maize and blue.
What attracted you to engineering?
From my earliest memories, I have always been interested in both mathematics and entrepreneurial endeavors, following in my brother’s footsteps. Both of my parents are retired computer specialists.
UM is one of the universities, partnered with both government and industry, that participates in the Alliances for Learning and Vision for underrepresented Americans (ALVA) program. ALVA focuses on increasing the number of minority undergraduates who earn engineering degrees and includes classes in addition to internships. The summer before my freshman year, I earned a summer internship position through ALVA at the EPA. My project focused on determining automobile light-off time, how long from startup it takes a catalytic converter to be effective at filtering out pollution/hazardous gases.
Are there any other standout memories from your undergrad experience?
As part of my undergraduate program, I was able to study abroad for 5 months at the Hong Kong University of Science & Technology. I traveled all over Asia and was able to visit the terracotta warriors at Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s tomb located in Lintong Distric, Xi’an, Shaanxi province of China.
While traveling Asia, I interviewed for a post-graduation job (through Skype, which with 2020’s events has now become a common interview format). I got the job and spent my first 2.5 years after graduation in Indianapolis.
What brought you to San Diego?
My plan was to return to business school, but after meeting up with some persuasive individuals at a National Society of Black Engineers convention, I took a job with Solar Turbines in San Diego in 2012. I was happy to return to San Diego after interning with Northop Grumman here in 2008.
Where has your career taken you in San Diego?
In trying to figure out what dream I wanted to pursue, I thought about things I love that I was already doing for free in my spare time, and that I could potentially monetize. I was tutoring girls in math to help them gain an appreciation for the discipline, and in 2014, I founded my own company, The STEAM Collaborative.
While working as a full-time engineer, and full-time MBA student at Point Loma Nazarene University, I grew The STEAM Collaborative with classroom visits to motivate students to pursue science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) education and careers. Now, we design, implement, and manage STEAM Education programs to include: workshops with students, STEM competitions for high school students and robotics competitions for 5th grade girls.
Tell us more about the mission of the STEAM Collaborative and your service offerings.
I have one memory that captures the essence of how I want to inspire young girls to do anything they want to do: I was at the Malcolm X Library for a community meeting, and a mother of a 5-year-old girl asked me to approach her daughter and tell her what I do for a living. I asked her daughter what she thought I did, and she ran through guesses such as model, actress, and singer. When I told her I was a rocket scientist, she was shocked and lit up, asking if I thought she could be one too.
I want to inspire and educate women to attain all of their professional goals. Only 30% of women remain in engineering roles 20 years after taking a job, because they don’t feel like they belong. As a rocket scientist in my career, I have been the only woman and the only Black person on the engineering team. I am usually the only female engineer working in the entire building.
The best way to make the engineering profession more inclusive is to graduate diverse engineers who lead the teams working in the industry. It’s very difficult to change the culture from the inside as a grossly outnumbered and underrepresented demographic profile no matter how good one is at her job.
My outreach through The STEAM Collaborative includes partnering with the community to determine what access and resources are most needed and then leading children to design a STEAM solution. For example, I have done work with Tracy Morris of the Blue Heart Foundation to create programming with a purpose to “work consistently with young men exposing them to various experiences and encouraging them to understand they are greater than their current circumstances.”
What’s next for The Steam Collaborative (and your long-term vision for yourself)?
My long-term goal is to found and run a STEAM University that provides an interdisciplinary STEAM education, with international theaters built and run by the students.
I am evolving the company to include informal educational activities in artistic spaces alongside formal course offerings. I design STEAM opportunities for museums, theaters and community-based organizations because that is where I first fell in love with Engineering and the Arts.
I am also a ballerina and love dancing and watching live art. Currently, I serve on the Board of Trustees for the San Diego Repertory Theater with a goal to bridge STEM and Arts in the Black community. Educational activities can be fun while allowing students to apply real-world STEM concepts, and using their creative, artistic side to solve problems.