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Rising Stars: An Entrepreneurial Engineer Builds Medical Devices

By Matt O'Brien

Andrew's passion for developing medical devices directed him to a degree in electrical engineering. A chance encounter triggered a career shift and opened up new opportunities for him.

Name: Andrew Halpert
School: Columbia
Major: Electrical Engineering
Years Out of College: 5-10
Title: Systems Engineer
First Steps

Andrew began his education studying electrical engineering in preparation for a career in medical equipment development. In one of Andrew's undergraduate classes, a guest lecturer offered the students a chance to apply for internships in his lab. Andrew was ultimately selected for one of the internships, and later learned that he was receiving more than he had bargained for. "I got the job, and it turned out that it wasn't an internship at all but a real engineering job!" While the work was demanding, Andrew caught onto the demands of his new responsibilities very quickly. He managed to juggle his class schedule with his new work schedule, and he was soon promoted.

From Then to Now

After college, Andrew continued to work for the small company with which he had begun. Unfortunately, he felt that the company was not quite ready to meet the demands of the market, and he decided that he needed to make a change in his career. Andrew applied to a slew of start-up medical technology companies across the country, hopeful to land a more promising job. When he received no response from his many ventures, Andrew realized that small new companies are much less willing to chance it on recent college graduates than are larger, more established firms.

During his application process, Andrew continued to work with his original firm in New York, in a building shared with another medical company. While moving an old computer down the hallway one day, Andrew ran into the VP and CEO of the other medical company, who both took interest in the ancient machine. The three struck up a conversation, and Andrew soon interviewed with their company for a new job. Andrew ultimately landed the job, teaching him a lesson in career advancement: "Always keep your eyes open for new opportunities and networking."

My Experience

Andrew describes his current duties as three-fold: his work includes "solving the various technical, manufacturing, regulatory, clinical, and marketing challenges that come up every day, doing what I can to prevent those problems in the future, and exploring new things we can do with our current product or new products."

Next Steps

After learning lessons of the medical technology industry, Andrew is ready for new horizons. "The hardest challenges I've faced have been the times where there was no clear way forward at all," says Andrew. Today, he sees business school as the obvious next step. He looks forward to starting business school and later becoming more involved in the management side of the medical technology business.

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