Tommi Crist

    Wednesday, November 30, 2016

    Wasilla, Alaska

    Tommi Crist is a sophomore in high school who is currently taking a full schedule of college-level courses. Three years ago, her path through the ANSEP pipeline began shortly after she attended a convention where ANSEP was demonstrating a computer build. According to Tommi, it opened her eyes to the opportunities available with the program.

    “They showed us some of the things students do as part of the ANSEP program and said we could have the same opportunities,” Tommi said. “I decided to apply because I really enjoyed math, but wasn’t getting enough through the regular math classes I was taking. I knew I wanted to be in advanced courses and ANSEP opened the doors to those opportunities for me.”

    After the convention, Tommi applied for ANSEP Middle School Academy, where she built her very own computer, a bridge made of balsa wood and a Lego tower, among other hands-on STEM activities that exposed her to the engineering career field. For Tommi, the next two summers were spent participating in STEM Career Explorations components. In 2014, the session she attended focused on permafrost and how it pertains to engineering.

    “I had never heard of permafrost so it was an interesting topic to begin with,” Tommi said. “As future engineers for our state, we learned the importance of considering climate and understanding the land we are building on regardless of the location. It was such a cool experience.”

    The following summer struck a chord with Tommi when she found out she would be building and flying unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones, during the STEM Career Explorations component.

    “Learning about drones was my favorite ANSEP activity by far,” she said. “The professors leading the activity were actual professionals in the industry so it made the lessons very valuable. That week truly reaffirmed my ambition to pursue a path as an aeronautical engineer.”

    Growing up with a father in the Marine Corps, Tommi had always been interested in a military career. After several summers immersed in STEM and a passion for flying, Tommi’s career path began to take shape in the form of aeronautical engineer for the United States Air Force.

    “When you think of an engineering career, civil engineering typically comes to mind. For me, I’ve always been interested in the military and flying. However, I knew I wouldn’t be able to meet the vision requirements it takes to be a pilot, so I thought it would be cool to be the person building the planes.”

    Tommi is currently working toward her dream of becoming an aeronautical engineer at ANSEP’s new Acceleration High School in Palmer, where she is taking college courses and plans to complete her associate degree before graduating. Her involvement with the program doesn’t stop there, though, as she hopes to apply for ANSEP Acceleration Academy next summer and Summer Bridge the following year.