For her summer research project, Arianna Krinos wanted to predict changes in blue crab biomass in the Chesapeake Bay resulting from climate change, but the work called for programming in an unfamiliar programming language. Krinos, a senior at Virginia Tech, remembered guidance from her mentor: what you know can help you solve a problem even if the problem is outside your area of expertise. She did have some background in computational modeling and found the confidence to apply those principles to learn Python and do her analysis.
Her mentor? Engility software engineer Dr. Connie Clayton. Clayton and Krinos were matched as mentor and protégée after Engility began sponsoring the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation and Arianna was selected as a 2017 scholarship recipient. Arianna was recently picked for a second consecutive year and will continue to work with Clayton into the 2018-2019 academic year.
In partnership with ASF, Engility honored the incoming class of 50 students from 36 different universities across the U.S. at a reception August 24 in Washington, DC. ASF supports the brightest college students in science, technology, mathematics, and engineering while commemorating the legacy of America’s pioneering astronauts. For the last two years, Engility has worked with ASF to provide scholarships to students committed to STEM careers.
In addition to hosting the celebration, Engility matched eight experienced employees to work one-on-one with eight of the students in mentoring relationships for the school year. The mentor program provides an opportunity for the Engility team to help ensure the U.S. maintains its position as a world leader in innovation by fostering a new generation of STEM talent.
Krinos, a double major in biological sciences and computer science, has found the mentoring program to be a valuable source of growth and encouragement.
“It’s an honor that ASF is investing in me, and it’s a responsibility I take seriously to seek meaningful experiences with this scholarship,” said Krinos. “My mentor is an important part of my support network.”
Clayton, who holds a Ph.D. in engineering management and other degrees in math, chemistry, computer science and information management, says her multifaceted expertise enables her to guide students towards success in a variety of STEM fields.
“My background helps me understand issues others may have in the classroom, and I’m glad I can pass on what I’ve learned about prioritization and other soft skills,” said Clayton. “I have been impressed with Arianna’s ambition to use her education to help communities across the U.S. She is already demonstrating she can identify what is important and how she can make an impact.”
Krinos’s senior thesis will entail research on phytoplankton in Lake Mendota, Wisconsin. She plans to utilize simulation modeling to learn how predicted changes in the local climate could lead to dangerous levels of bacteria in high-traffic recreational areas.
“I’m learning how to take inspiration from life paths that are different from the academic route, like professionals in industry,” Krinos says. “Working with a professional outside my field such as Dr. Clayton creates cross links in my mind and helps me think of new problem-solving approaches that my professors may not be able to teach.”