Mavericks Personified: Tamara Wilhite
Scientific science fiction
The young man waited patiently, hand resting lightly on the weapon inside his coat. He was the identical twin of my ex-husband, albeit 25 years younger. ... I carried his first, to make my ex-husband happy. Three years later, we hired a surrogate to carry my clone.
from Not In Thy Footsteps by Tamara Wilhite
Alumna Tamara Britain Wilhite began a quest for believable science fiction novels in high school. Her search came up empty, so she decided to create some. She started by writing poetry as a hobby. Now she writes technically based science fiction, stories that are plausible to engineers like her.
“I hear an idea of something new in technology and look ahead a couple of generations as to what could happen as an outcome of using that technology. Many times technology doesn’t solve problems, it creates new ones. It’s how I get most of my ideas, then I write the story very quickly.”
Science fiction and engineering run in Wilhite’s family. Her father named her after a Robert Heinlein character. Her engineering background is so firmly rooted in UT Arlington, her family tree could include a campus branch. Her father, brother and husband graduated from the College of Engineering. Even her mother and brother are UT Arlington graduates.
Wilhite first used her degree as a process engineer with a Grand Prairie plastics manufacturer. She was the company’s first woman engineer.
“I didn’t have any problems with the job requirements, but people kept mistaking me for a secretary, asking me to bring them coffee,” she said.
After her two children were born, she wanted a more flexible job and turned to technical writing about two years ago. The position with a local technology company gave her time to nurture her children and her writing hobby, which soon became a second career. She has written about 70 articles, from science fiction to technical, literary to horror, and humor.
Wilhite credits the College of Engineering for her strong academic background. France Meier, her favorite professor, also taught her father. In her first meeting with Dr. Meier, now a professor emeritus of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering, he recognized her name. He remembered that her father had been late to class the day she was born.
“The professors were informed. Our tests were based on real-world stuff,” she said. “They discussed theories and showed how to apply them in reality. It was good preparation.”
Even for writing about clones.
— Kim Pewitt-Jones