On International Women in Engineering Day, we pay tribute to the exceptional women who have fearlessly pursued careers in engineering and transforming the world through their remarkable achievements. To celebrate, we turn our focus to the extraordinary journey of Bethany Grant, Chief Technology Officer of Kytopen, who exemplifies the unwavering determination and pioneering spirit of women in engineering.
Bethany received her B.S. and S.M. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering and has since worked to develop innovative products, lead research teams, and deployed company strategies at an array of different companies in pharmaceutical, medical device, and aeronautical industries. Bethany joined the Kytopen team in 2019 as the Vice President of Product Development and has since moved into a leadership role as the Chief Technology Officer working with all our team members to deploy the Flowfect® platforms.
To celebrate the holiday, we sat down with Bethany and other women engineers at Kytopen to learn more about their journey, hear advice for young engineers, and their favorite achievements working at Kytopen.
Q+A with Bethany Grant & Kytopen Women Engineers
What first interested you in engineering?
Bethany Grant, CTO: “I was good at math, and wasn’t sure what I wanted to study. My dad suggested engineering (aerospace, specifically), which sounded cool. It was cool; my favorite subject was orbital mechanics, using the gravitation pull of the planets to accelerate and direct space travel.”
Naomi Druy, Product Manager: “I’ve always liked creating things and finding new ways to put things together. When I was younger, I even used to make condos for my Beanie Babies out of old tissue boxes. The more I learned about what was possible, my desire to make new things and work the creative side of my brain only grew.”
Tianna Gannon, Quality Engineer: “Since childhood I really enjoyed engineering toys like K’nex, Legos and puzzles. One of my older brothers was studying architecture at the time and I loved the 3D models he was constructing for his college courses. At the same time, my mother was studying to become a pediatric nurse. I loved science, archeology, and space so as I grew older, I knew I wanted to pursue a STEM major.”
Lindsay Bonvini, Application Specialist: “My passion for engineering was sparked by a strong aversion to waiting for assistance in fixing expensive instrumentation. Fueled by curiosity and stubbornness, I took it upon myself to learn how to repair and tinker with complex machinery. Through countless hours of hands-on experience, I found fulfillment in successfully troubleshooting and restoring malfunctioning equipment. This journey not only satisfied my own curiosity but also instilled a sense of purpose in making a tangible impact through autonomous problem-solving and contributing to the advancement of industries and society.”
Melissa Aguirre Pinillos, Bioengineering Intern: “I did a mentorship program called the ACE Mentor of Boston, where they taught high school students the necessary knowledge and skills it took to be an engineer. There, I was captivated by people's creativity and ambition that their product comes from. Seeing many marked the world because of their solution.”
What steps did you take to become an engineer?
BG: “I studied Aero/Astro Engineering at MIT, which was a big step, then interned at Boeing and worked for 1 yr at Loral (on satellites). I found my way into life-sciences accidentally, but really got excited about engineering and design once I could see the benefit to patients.”
ND: “When I was a senior in high school, I took a robotics class as my science elective, which I really enjoyed. The year-end project was to build a model rocket that would launch & land via parachute without cracking the raw egg inside. When I got to college, I ignored my parents’ suggestion to major in engineering, but by the end of my freshman year I had switched my major to Mechanical Engineering!”
TG: “After I graduated with a M.S. in Forensic Science, I accepted a position as a Complaints Investigator for a medical device company. I knew I could transfer my analytical, critical thinking and teamwork skills to the job. I took on new roles in several medical device companies in Quality Engineering specifically in post market roles working on complaint management, CAPAs, manufacturing support, process improvement, supplier management and FDA remediation work.”
MAP: “Becoming an engineer involved a series of deliberate steps and commitment. I received a solid foundation of Engineering from ACE Mentoring Program and BioBuilder Apprenticeship during highschool and my bachelors degree in Biomedical Engineering. The co-op at Kytopen allowed me to gain practical experience and apply classroom learning to real-world scenarios. It provided an opportunity to work alongside professionals, collaborate on projects, and gain industry-specific knowledge. I attended engineering conferences, workshops, and seminars to expand my professional network and stay updated with the latest advancements in the field. Engaging with individuals and experts who provide valuable insights and can open doors for potential career opportunities.”
What are your favorite engineering accomplishments at Kytopen?
BG: “Kytopen builds on so much great science and discoveries in bioengineering; I see our job as making sure that we can move fluid through a channel while delivering an electric field across a section of the flow. The biological engineering that our system enables is remarkable. My favorite accomplishment is building a team of scientists and engineers that understand and appreciate each others’ expertise and come together to engineer life.”
ND: “The engineers at Kytopen are some of the most innovative people I’ve met. My favorite accomplishment is when we went from idea, to prototype, to finished product in just a few weeks to satisfy a customer request.”
TG: “Much of my Quality Engineering experience has been in the post market arena. At Kytopen I’ve had the opportunity to add Design and Development work to my skillset. This has allowed me to fully understand and support the full lifecycle of our products, ensuring they are safe, reliable, and meet our customers’ needs. I’ve enjoyed building out Kytopen’s Quality Management System and learning more about quality by design and quality risk management.”
Who is an engineer or mentor you look up to or inspired you?
BG: “I was fortunate to have a mentor early in my career who was patient and challenged me to ‘push harder’, and to find the tough problems and solve them. I believed in myself because he believed in me. I try to pay it forward in the same way.”
ND: “Definitely my mom. When she was in school, there wasn’t even a women’s bathroom on every floor of the engineering building. When she got caught using the faculty bathroom, she (rightfully) told the school it wasn’t her fault. She taught me to keep persevering and not let the little things get in the way of the big ones.”
TG: “My mentor during university was Dr. Gina Semprebon, professor, and founder of the Center of Excellence for Women in STEM at Bay Path University. Dr. Semprebon is known internationally for her research in paleoecology, the study of interactions between organisms and/or interactions between organisms and their environments across geologic timescales. She co-invented the low magnification stereo microwear technique, a new method of examining microscopic scars on dental enamel caused by food substances.
Other female engineers who I find inspiring include Dr. Patricia Bath, first African American resident in ophthalmology at New York University and first African American woman to receive a medical patent in the United States. She has five patents related to the Laserphaco Probe, a medical device that uses lasers to treat cataracts. Sally Ride, first American woman in space in 1983 and first known queer astronaut.”
MAP: “There have been several engineers and mentors who greatly influenced and inspired me throughout my journey. One individual who stands out is Rameech. He has been a role model for me due to his exceptional accomplishments and the impact they have made in the field of engineering.
What truly inspired me about Rameech is their innovative thinking, perseverance, and dedication to solving complex problems. He has consistently pushed the boundaries of what is possible and has made significant advancements at Kytopen.”
What advice would you give to someone who wants to become an engineer?
BG: “ If you want to, then you can. It’s just math (and some physics). ”
ND: “ My advice would be to remember why you like engineering and stay true to what your goals are. Engineering can be difficult and frustrating at times, but when you complete a project and see the success, it’s very gratifying. I’ve found that as long as I’m interested in the outcome, the challenges are always worth it. ”
TG: “ My advice for someone who wants to become an engineer is to:
- Get out of your comfort zone and try new things. Don’t be so rigid on what you think your career path should be solely based on your education. Your interests and experience change over time. Follow your passion.
- Network, network, network. Meet people that challenge you and your way of thinking. Get out of your comfort zone. Don’t stay loyal to companies. Find people you enjoy working with and stay with them.
- Take advantage of any training your company provides you. And if they don’t, reach out to your HR department. Take control of your career path. Lastly, save all your training materials, you never know when you will need that information again or who you can share that knowledge with.”
LB: “My recommendation for aspiring engineers is to actively seek and accumulate hands-on experience. Despite not having an academic background in engineering, I managed to enter the field solely through my practical expertise and adeptness at innovative problem-solving. These invaluable skills, which cannot be easily acquired in a classroom setting, are best developed through continuous practice and application.”
MAP: “Engineering is a vast field with numerous specializations. I recommend taking some time to explore and identify the area of engineering that truly interests you. This clarity will help you make informed decisions about your education and career path.”
The Kytopen team consists of many different women engineers in roles across the company. Meet the rest of the team and women engineers by visiting our team page.
Happy International Women in Engineering Day to all!