From Engineer to Author
K.T Lee: Founder of The Calculated Series
I was fascinated by the space program even before I fully realized what engineers did for a living. Funnily enough, I didn’t dream of becoming an astronaut – I just wanted to design, build, and problem solve at NASA. While I ultimately landed in a very fulfilling career in medical devices, it was the spark of wonder at what engineering made possible that made me want to pursue a STEM career.
I was the first engineer in my immediate family. I didn’t really understand what being an engineer truly entailed - I just knew I wanted to solve big problems and liked math and science. Everyone around me assured me engineering fit the bill. They were definitely right but it took me some time to figure it out what my place in the industry was going to be. One great thing about writing fiction with a STEM twist is that it gives me the chance to paint an entertaining picture of the ways science and engineering are a part of everyday life for all readers. Similar to pursuing a career in engineering, releasing my books came with a lot of unknowns. I had to go beyond writing an entertaining story and learn how to market these books that step outside of genre expectations and introduce characters less commonly spotted in literature. I needed every bit of the determination I’d honed while pursuing a career in engineering to step outside my comfort zone and become a published author.
Sometimes we spend so much time trying to blend in that we forget that having a team filled with people who have different backgrounds, experiences, and approaches can help supercharge creativity and results. Most importantly, I finally realized that there’s no one right way to be in STEM – if you like fashion, awesome. If it’s not your thing, that’s ok. If you love Star Trek, that’s fantastic. If you’d rather watch The Great British Bake-Off (full disclosure – this is me. I’ve seen every episode), that doesn’t make you less of an engineer. Our differences are what make teams - and life - interesting.
Over the years, a big change in my career has been to my outlook. I’m an extroverted engineer and I'm incredibly passionate about my work. I get energized when thinking about big ideas and I love talking to people about them. Because I didn’t fit my own idea of what a “typical” engineer was like, I was pretty self-conscious about my personality and approach in the early stages of my career. It took me some time to realize that my differences were my strengths. My outgoing nature and enthusiastic personality are assests when working with other teams and connecting ideas, a critical skill on engineering teams.