Meredith Hanrahan: engineering as a profession and a hobby #WomenInSTEM


Another one of the great interviews from ImAnEngineer.com

Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Associate Researcher, Bioengineering

  • Meredith loves to run. She’s run the Chicago Marathon and several half marathons.
  • Her goal is to visit every major league baseball park and she’s been to 19 of them so far. She tries to visit a new one every summer.
  • Meredith volunteers for Girls on the Run as a coach.

When did you know you wanted to be an engineer?

I didn’t really know about engineering when I went to college. Originally I thought I’d be pre-med or pre-law, but when I learned the types of classes that engineers take – physics and calculus – I realized that those topics matched my skill set. I went to Pittsburgh University, where they encouraged innovation, which is what inspired me then and still inspires me now to be an engineer.

I just fell in love with it and it still excites me. Last fall, I went to the World Makerfaire in New York and it was so cool to just see people making things! They were making everything from jewelry to really cool electronic devices to Raspberry Pi inventions.

I think I was drawn to engineering for two reasons: the first and probably more boring answer is I simply liked the classes it involved! The second and more personal reason is because of the hands-on aspect. I think just seeing the end result of these projects is what still inspires me. It’s overwhelming to realize how much there is to do and how much there is to learn. It’s a field that is constantly evolving, and if you keep up with it, there is always something to capture your interest.

You work in pharmaceuticals, correct? Can you tell me more about that?

I do robotics work in the pharmaceutical industry. A lot of what we do in the R&D department is automated. So we integrate robotics to complete certain tasks that are repetitive. Another important part of my job is using my biology knowledge to understand and analyze organic compounds. For instance, I’m working on a project right now where we are trying to determine which organic compounds that have not yet formulated will have side effects when they are working as intended and which will yield poor results when used by humans.

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