Junior Aadi Mhatre, a chemical and biomedical engineering major from Bridgewater, N.J., answers a few questions about student life at Carnegie Mellon, what he's done in the classroom, internships he's had, why he chose his major, and what he likes about Pittsburgh.
1. What do you enjoy about campus life?
Campus life is a work hard / play hard environment where everyone has his or her priorities in line. It's inspiring to work and hang out with such driven people in all fields of study.
2. What do you get involved in outside of your sport?
I've gotten involved in research in Dr. Cook's Cardiopulmonary Engineering Lab. Dr. Cook's lab is primarily focused on developing an external mode of respiration that can assist or replace breathing for an impaired individual.
Specifically, the research is focused on creating compliant thoracic artificial lungs (cTALs) that provide a better alternative to mechanical ventilators. My work was centered on testing fiber coatings to decrease clot formation on the oxygenator fibers, as clot formation is the primary cause of device failure. Under the guidance of PhD student, Rei Ukita, I studied how clot formation occurs on the oxygenator fibers through an in-vitro incubation study. In addition to the fiber coating study, I assisted in all steps of device fabrication from mold injection to quality inspection through leak testing. The most exciting part was helping with and observing rabbit and sheep surgeries, which are used to test the efficacy of the different device coatings.
3. Tell us about any internships you've had.
My first internship experience was the summer before I came to Carnegie Mellon. I worked as a research assistant at the Weill Cornell Medical School in Dr. Crystal's Precision Medicine group. I studied the effects of tobacco-derived chemicals, NNK and AREG, on lung cell precursors in ALI (Air-Liquid Interface) tissue culture to model the genetic effects of smoking. This contributed to a larger investigation on the effects of smoking on airway epithelial cells.
The summer after my freshmen year I worked as a Technical Assistant at the Henry Company, a mid-size construction products company outside of Philadelphia. There I supported the product development of new low-cost, high performance roof coatings and conducted competitive product comparisons through industry benchmark testing. This job involved a lot of mechanical and stress testing, which was worth it because at the end of the day it helped the company reduce their production costs.
The summer after my sophomore year I worked as a Process Development Intern at Insmed Inc, a pharmaceutical startup in my hometown, Bridgewater, N.J. My day-to-day responsibilities were ever-changing based on business needs, which made it very exciting. My main project for the summer was to help find the root cause for a manufacturing issue that had occurred during my first week. This project involved extensive laboratory testing and statistical analysis, which I then presented to a cross-functional team, including regulatory, quality control, manufacturing, and research directors.
At the same time, I helped assist in the build-out of a process development lab, which is used to test manufacturing process parameters at a smaller scale. Through this build-out I learned about equipment maintenance/start-up, process automation, and project management. With the remaining time that I had I attended weekly meetings with the Insmed manufacturing group, clinical contract manufacturers, and commercial contract manufacturers. This exposed me to all sides of pharmaceutical manufacturing; from the minute details in the skid P&ID's (Piping and Instrumentation Diagrams) to the "big picture" financial planning and project management that is required to make it possible.
4. How have your internships help form a career decision?
My internship at Insmed solidified my passion to work in the pharmaceutical manufacturing space. I got to understand the complex nature of bringing a drug to market from R&D to Regulatory Affairs, Quality Control, Manufacturing, and ultimately Commerical / Sales. Furthermore, I was able to get a deep dive into the manufacturing field. I experienced the constant problem-solving world of managing contract manufacturers, building out a process development lab, and scaling up for commercial manufacturing. This past summer definitely was a big step in my career.
5. Why did you select your course of study – what class have you enjoyed the most?
I chose the Chemical Engineering/Biomedical Engineering double major because coming into college I wanted to study both business and biology. Engineering provided that happy medium between the two because of the career flexibility it offers. Coming into my sophomore year, I started to become interested in manufacturing and based on this interest I picked up the Operations and Supply Chain Management minor.
My favorite BME class has been BME lab with Professor Zapanta. My favorite ChemE class has been Chemical Reactions Engineering with Professor Walker. My favorite Supply Chain class has been Business Optimization with Professor Mosely.
6. What class would you recommended someone take at CMU?
I recently took Engineering Leadership Development Seminar, a CIT-only class geared towards juniors and seniors. It was the most important class I've taken at CMU in terms of my personal development and growth. I gained important leadership and management skills through class discussion and amazing guest speakers. Most importantly, having Dr. Murphy facilitate the discussion brought the whole class together.
7. What have you enjoyed about living in Pittsburgh?
The rent in Pittsburgh is very cheap compared to other major cities, which makes living off campus very affordable. In addition, Pittsburgh is a city of many neighborhoods and I love that each borough has its own personality. Shadyside / Squirrel Hill has a lot of nice sit-down restaurants while Oakland has great food that you can pick up on the go. The busses can take you wherever you need to go and that's very convenient as a student on a budget.