We had the good fortune of connecting with Carlotta Berry and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Carlotta, career-wise, where do you want to be in the end?
I was inspired to start my own business during the pandemic when I noticed that people were hungry for some unique skills I had to offer. As one of a few Black women engineering professor who teaches controls, robotics, and design I was being asked to speak and give workshops often. During the pandemic, this was key because it could be done virtually so it was just matter of turning on Zoom versus purchasing a plane ticket, hotel, and rental car, etc. This was surprising to me because as a professor who gives this intellectual property willingly to my students, it was refreshing to see a broader community just as interested and inspired to learn and do more. This is why the motto for my NoireSTEMinist business is “My STEM is For The Streets”. Now that I have provided some context I can answer the question regarding the end goal for my career. I hope to retire as an educator and then do it in some capacity on a volunteer basis because I love teaching. Perhaps instead of doing it for a large university as a full tenured professor, I will do it for a minority serving or historically black institution. If I do go into administration some day, I hope to make my impact as a dean but no matter continue to give back to my professional community through service and my business as I seek to amplify, normalize, and support diversity in STEM.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I selected artistic and creativity because this sets apart how I define myself as an engineering professor. During the pandemic, I established my brand NoireSTEMinist to define myself as a Black woman who aspires to see more women, Black, and Brown people pursue careers in STEM. The way that I do this creatively through social media is with an integration of STEM and the arts. I make videos on TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Facebook about concepts in robotics, circuits, design to educate a general audience about what I do. I devise methods to make it more palatable to a broader community to normalize them seeing Black people and in particular Black women doing STEM. I also have started writing fictional novels with Black women in STEM as the main characters to show them experiencing love, loss, success, failure as a way to market them in the roles to the broader community.
Also the journey for Black women in STEM is not easy and it is more an obstacle course than a leaky pipleline but I want to show that if I can do it then so could others. Although it was not easy the key to my success was finding resources to help me academically and professionally, finding mentors, advocates and allies to provide advice and resources, joining a community of supporters and people who had experienced what I had and now being a role model to pave the way for those that come behind me.
What I want the world to know about my brand and story is that everything I do is for my community and to diversify STEM and create engineers that reflect the society that we live in.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I really have nothing for this one. I am sorry. Although I am a transplant and have lived in Indianapolis since 2006, I am an introvert at heart and just cannot help.
Regarding Atlanta I lived there from 1988 – 1994 but as a college student at Spelman College and Georgia Tech so most of my experiences are places that may not even exist anymore like the Underground, Auburn Avenue, King Center, Lenox mall, Buckhead.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Always my family and friends but in particular my mother who was a kindergarten teacher for over 30 years, Dorothy Jean Johnson. I also want to acknowledge the two organizations that I helped co-found during the pandemic including Black In Engineering and Black In Robotics.
Finally, I want to acknowledge my colleagues that I founded these organizations with Dr. Monica Cox, Dr. Tahira Reid Smith, Dr. Monroe Kennedy, and Dr. Ayanna Howard
Other: Author website http://carlottaardell.com/