Noelle is a member of the process engineering team at BioMarin Pharmaceuticals, where she focuses on the equipment- and process-related elements of drug manufacturing, which entails everything from working towards continuous improvement to troubleshooting challenges and investigating different solutions.
What is it like to do a degree in the Chemical Engineering department at McMaster?
It’s very engaging, hands-on, and relevant. It’s also incredibly supportive and friendly. There are so many opportunities for people to go out and get engaged in what they are learning. Personally, I spent a lot of time with my peers in the Chem Eng study room, which became a kind of hub where students from all different years and specialties could gather and work together. The community aspect was great, both when things were easy and fun, but especially when they got busy and difficult.
How did your time in the Chemical Engineering program prepare you for life after graduation?
The Chemical Engineering program emphasizes real-world themes and teaches you to think critically about the complex problems you will encounter in your future work. It’s not a plug-and-play kind of degree. Unlike a lot of engineering programs, the Chemical Engineering program does an outstanding job of promoting teamwork instead of competition. I think much of my success in the program came from being encouraged to work with my peers to solve problems. This approach was great for promoting learning and preparing us for future opportunities. In my current role, I don’t solve things independently 100% of the time; I draw on the knowledge and skills of the people around me and it helps me grow as a result.
What would you say to someone who is about to enter the Chemical Engineering program at McMaster?
Find where you fit and honour that. There is so much pressure on students to choose a career path that is going to make them the most money or get them the flashiest opportunities, but it is equally important to prioritize who you are and what you enjoy doing. Success comes to those who are great at what they do, and you become great at what you do because you enjoy it. It’s like a beautiful feedback loop. So, if you think Chem Eng is the right place for you, go for it!