CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Isabel Garcia and Marina Vicens Miquel are PhD students at the Conrad Blucher Institute for Surveying and Science who are doing some interesting things in STEM.
And as we continue to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, these two scientists at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi who are aiming to have more representation in STEM.
"This is our LiDAR and inside of this box, it's got what's called an inertial measurement unit," said Garcia.
Researchers at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi are using some interesting tools to study the "Sparkling City by the Sea."
"We can hopefully provide data for Marina to pop into her AI models," Garcia said. "And I got into surveying because I like to be outside and I like math so those, that's the perfect combination of being outside and math, right?,"
Surveying and mapping our local beaches provides data that can be used in high-powered computer models. AI or artificial intelligence refers to programs that are coded to be "self-learning". A computer scientist writes code that instructs the model to identify errors and create better outcomes and predictions.
"So finally once I graduated with double major in computer science and mathematics I decided to go for my PhD and I am working in Coastal AI," Vicens Miquel said.
This kind of programming is used in a wide variety of ways, from the virtual assistant on your smartphone to weather forecasting models. In this case, Coastal AI focuses on inundation or flooding.
"All this will help us to predict the inundation, so we can say 'oh it's a good idea to close this road' or 'the water is going to reach this coordinate,'" Vicens Miquel said.
The U.S. Census reports women make up about 27 percent of the science, technology, engineering and math workforce, an even smaller group for Hispanic women.
"You realize, I am a young Hispanic female engineer and there's not a whole lot of us out there," said Garcia.
"So I would say that we don't have to be scared to be the first one or to be different," said Vicens Miquel.
What keeps these two driven scientists going?
"Actually do you find motivation in being one of the only people that looks like me and in my field. So that, that does kind of give me a driving factor", Garcia said.
"If you love what you do there is nothing that will stop you," said Vicens Miquel.
They share a passion for math and science that will improve our environment here in the Coastal Bend and serve a greater purpose.
"Represent," Garcia said. "Represent my community and my culture."