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"When I was in college, biotechnology still seemed like science fiction. Soon I realized it was becoming a reality, so I went back to school for my master's degree. It's exciting to be part of a technological revolution. I like consulting because each project is different. Every time a new facility goes on line, I feel I've really accomplished something."   —Nicole

An Engineer at Work

Nicole is an engineer with a small consulting group that helps biotechnology companies design and build new manufacturing facilities. She began her career with a B.S. in chemistry.

Nicole is very experienced with biotechnology manufacturing, or bioprocessing. Before joining her partners in the consulting group, she worked for two agricultural companies and a chemical company that used bioprocessing, and then went back to school to earn an M.S. in biochemical engineering. Nicole's experience is highly valued by her clients, who are sometimes new to biotechnology manufacturing. Some clients are young companies that want to manufacture their first product. Others are established companies that want to upgrade their current facilities.

Nicole spends about half her time in her office, designing plants with towering steel tanks and miles of piping. The rest of her time is spent meeting with clients or with suppliers, or on construction sites that are located around the world. She works with a variety of people, including top managers, construction foremen, and scientists. She has found that short courses in communication skills, negotiation, and project management have been as valuable to her as any of her engineering courses.

Career Map

If you are good with electronics and machines, or like figuring out how to make things work and how to build them, you would probably like engineering.

Engineers with an understanding of life science are central to the field of biotechnology. They may choose a career in industry, government, or academia.

Process engineers design, supervise, and troubleshoot new manufacturing processes. They may also monitor manufacturing processes and work with technicians to ensure products are being manufactured properly. Engineers can design new production plants and oversee them.

Engineers in industry may work with regulatory agencies, customers, or investors.

Engineers in universities research new technologies for manufacturing.