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Alumni Spotlight: Julie Wushensky

BEE MEng '16

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

I decided to pursue the program because to be a competitive candidate for a career in biological science fields, including bioengineering, one needs a master's degree. I knew that the faculty and Cornell's BEE department are superior, and if I was going to get a higher degree, I wanted to do so in the best environment possible (pun intended).

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

The greatest assets of the MEng program are the hands-on experiences in lab and one-on-one instruction.  Going into my MEng, I requested to learn as many of our lab's protocols and equipment operating practices as possible. Ludmilla Aristilde was very accommodating, and as a result, I was able to learn skills I never had access to or time for as an undergraduate. When it came time to apply for laboratory-oriented positions, my résumé had grown by leaps and bounds. Likewise, working individually with my adivsor to set goals for my project, to plan my experiments, and to review my data was an exact mirror for working with my supervisors in my new lab. Thanks to Ludmilla's guidance, I feel like I began my career with a foot up relative to other candidates.

What is your current career? 

After a few months of traveling around, I began working for Beyond Meat, in El Segundo, CA. I am a Research Associate, and my job entails improving and creating new prototypes of plant-based meat analogs. 

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

The experiences and résumé-building the MEng afforded me were directly transferrable to my new career.

What was the best memory you have of your degree experience?  Worst memory?

My two best memories from my M.Eng were 1) the first time I successfully completed a protocol for my project, and realizing that I could make it, and 2) when I successfully ran my final model that wrapped up the year's worth of work. Both experiences were so satisfying on a personal and professional level. My worst experience would definitely be trying to have a social life and date while completing my M.Eng. Since the M.Eng was the equivalent time commitment of a full-time job, scheduling activities outside of lab became a little more challenging.

What advice would you give to students contemplating the MEng degree program?

I would advise current students considering the M.Eng to really take a look at which careers they are interested in pursuing. I can personally attest that having a MEng degree made me more desirable in several employers eyes. If a current student knows that a higher degree would be advantageous but they don't want to make the full commitment to a PhD, the MEng is a great solution.