September 8, 2007Her job: Affymetrix
Describe what you do in your current work situation?
I work at Affymetrix, a biomedical company in California.
Why did you choose engineering?
I was a biology major, but then I saw the kinds of hands-on work engineers get to do. You learn to think analytically, and you learn to problem-solve. With an engineering education, I could get a job in lots of different fields. I used to work for a company that made devices for open-heart surgery. The job was very hands-on. I helped test tools that surgeons use to position the heart. Amazing stuff to think about!
Where did you go to school and what degree(s) do you have?
B.S. in mechanical engineering, MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
What kinds of activities have typically been part of your work?
As a mechanical engineering student, Chi-An had an extraordinary opportunity: she collaborated with the athletic product company, New Balance, to design a new shoe for triathlon runners. Chi-An, who is herself a runner, realized that triathletes lose valuable time in the transition from cycling to running. Her ingenious design allows the runners to switch shoes quickly and with much less effort.
What advice would you give to a young woman considering a career in engineering?
Creativity is no doubt one of the major building blocks of a good engineer. An engineer’s goal is to solve a problem or design a system that has never been built. The more creative you are, the more possible solutions you'll come up with. Communication is also key. It doesn’t matter how good your work is—if you can’t communicate it, it’s not going to be very useful.
Describe something about your life outside of work: your hobbies, or perhaps a favorite book.
I run triathlons and other races, and coach. I love traveling, mountain-biking, swimming, and kayaking.