From forensic science to coatings development: Tassi inspires female STEM students
When Jen Tassi, PPG automotive refinish undercoats team leader, was completing her undergraduate studies, high-profile criminal cases and trials brought forensic science to the national spotlight and sparked her interest in a forensics career field. Soon after graduation, Tassi’s career pivoted to quality assurance at a PPG coatings manufacturing plant, and she discovered what she really enjoyed about a chemistry career was the opportunity to problem solve.
Creating new coatings and paint products is now part of Tassi’s everyday work. To her, creating new products is like applying forensics to paint. “Technical problem solving or analyzing why something works or doesn’t work or how we can improve a product is much like solving a forensic puzzle,” she said.
In addition to her current product development role at PPG’s Delaware, Ohio facility, Tassi volunteers her time to help young, female students discover opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) career paths.
“When my daughter was born, I realized that I didn’t want her and other women to think they can only accomplish certain things or go into certain careers based on gender stereotypes,” said Tassi. “This inspired me to work with organizations and female students who can benefit from a mentor or seeing the exciting types of real-world career possibilities for women in STEM.”
Recently, Tassi and her colleagues joined CoolTech Girls, a PPG Foundation partner and an organization that works to ignite girls’ passion in science and technology through workshops and role models, for their Color Science virtual roundtable event. Demonstrating the chemistry behind a paint recipe and engineering progresses to manufacture paint products, the event was designed to help the attendees understand career paths in color science, chemistry, engineering and supply chain.
As part of the event, Tassi shared her own personal career journey and inspirations. She explained, “There can sometimes be a disconnect between school and industry. A young student may enjoy chemistry, but not fully understand the plentiful career possibilities the field offers. By teaming up with CoolTech Girls, I shared insights on chemistry careers in paint and coatings and my day-to-day job responsibilities.”
Over the past summer, Tassi also joined a career roundtable with about 900 female students as part of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) National Conference for College Women Student Leaders. Supported by a PPG Foundation grant, this year’s conference included its first STEM Roundtable to connect professionals with rising student leaders and explore careers pathways.
To learn more about how the PPG Foundation and PPG employee volunteers support programs that seek to close the STEM gender gap, click here.