Editor’s Note: This story is part of a series of feature stories that highlight diversity on Florida Poly’s campus and celebrate Black History Month.
In no particular order, Taryn Jones is an engineer, a woman, and black. All are terms which describe what she is, but do not define her. “I want to be seen as an engineer, not necessarily as a black engineer who is also a woman,” said Jones, from Santa Teresa, New Mexico. “I’m just a person doing what I’m passionate about, and that happens to be engineering.”
It was that passion that brought this impressive graduate student to Florida Polytechnic University. Jones is pursuing a master’s degree in engineering with a concentration in robotics. “Robotics is a rare program in undergraduate degrees,” said Jones, who completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Florida. “I had already decided to do my bachelor’s in mechanical engineering and then go somewhere else for a master’s in robotics.”
And just as Jones was searching for graduate options, Florida Poly began a master’s program focused specifically on robotics engineering. It was a great match. “The program was exactly what I was looking for and perfect timing,” said Jones, who relocated to Lakeland, Florida, with her family in 2004.
As she begins her second semester in the program, Jones said she has no doubt she made the best choice of school to take her engineering education to the next level. “I like how secluded the campus is. I also like that it’s a small school, and it allows your professor to really focus on you,” she said. “My undergrad experience was very different, with 500 people in one class. A lot more intimidation to raise your hand if you have a question.”
Jones also highlighted the abundant research happening at Florida Poly as another way to grow her expertise as a mechanical engineer. “There are a bunch of research opportunities here. Everywhere you turn, it seems like every professor has research they could always use some help with,” she said.
One of those opportunities will enable Jones to work on a project to create a type of vending machine with the food from the smart gardens on campus. Its purpose would be to keep the food fresh so that people who are less fortunate can get access to it. However, her dreams rely on helping develop autonomous vehicle (AV) technology in the state of Florida – another reason why Florida Poly was the right fit for her.
“I’m really excited about the Advanced Mobility Institute (AMI)and all of the research it’s doing on AV technology, and also about Suntrax and the University’s ties to that whole project,” said Jones. “I want to be involved in that.” As for her master’s degree from Florida Poly, she’s confident it will open doors to more research in the future. She plans to pursue a doctorate degree in robotics.
“I know there are no limits for me. My parents raised me to not see color nor gender, just to push forward,” said Jones.
“And when people have doubted me, I laugh and keep going. I know I can do it.”
Assistant Director of Communications