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Alumni Spotlight: Caitlin Anderson

BEE MEng student Caitlin

Why did you decide to pursue a Master of Engineering degree from Biological and Environmental Engineering?

I decided to take on an M.Eng. because I wanted to demonstrate my ability to excel academically, which I had struggled with my first two years. It took me until the end of my Junior year to really find my specific interest and reignite my passion within Biological Engineering, and the BEE MEng program allowed me to continue to take coursework towards that. In addition, I wanted the opportunity to do research in a Biological Engineering lab doing global health related, which I had not been able to before my senior year. I was able to start the degree during my second semester senior year, which made it possible to afford the degree. 

What was most instructive and engaging about the BEE MEng program? 

While I was enrolled in the program, I found the coursework was more engaging and thought-provoking due to the smaller class size. By taking higher level/graduate classes, I found myself more engaged in class discussions than I had been previously. The things I learned from these classes, and from my classmates in these classes, have stuck with me over the past few years. 

Where did you go after completing your BEE MEng?

After completing my M.Eng., I received a Whitaker Fellowship to work in an infectious disease lab in Tanzania for a year. I am now a PhD candidate at the University of Washington. 

How did your MEng experience help get you to where you are now?  

The M.Eng. provided me with the additional lab and course work that helped to prepare me for the PhD. The research experience that I received as a part of this degree helped me to explore independent research and my interests in point of care diagnostics. Specifically, the lab work I completed as a part of my M.Eng. helped me to see exactly what I was interested in studying; the development of diagnostics that are designed in a way that they can be implemented at the point of care. 

What are your best memories of the program? 

There are handful of memories that stand out to me, though the most notable is the day I presented my M.Eng. work to the lab I was working in. It felt incredible to be able to share the research I had been doing with a larger group of researchers. This experience helped me realize that further graduate school was something that I wanted to pursue. 

What advice would you give to students contemplating the MEng now? 

I found that the M.Eng. really prepared me for my Whitaker Fellowship and PhD in a way I would not have been otherwise. For a student considering the M.Eng., I would suggest thinking about whether the skills developed through this degree would help prepare you for your future plans (whether known or unknown). I believe this degree provides the opportunity for learning and growth beyond the Bachelor's degree.