An Up-Close Look at How Industry Operates

After graduating with a Bachelor of Engineering in Chemical Engineering from the National University of Sciences and Technology in Islamabad, Pakistan, Fatima Rizwan started looking for graduate programs in chemical engineering in major cities. 

She says she saw the diversity of research within the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Illinois Institute of Technology, which ranges from catalysis to drug delivery, as a major draw. 

“I have found CHBE at Illinois Tech to be a well-rounded program,” she says. “Faculty do a great job of delivering the material to you. Furthermore, we can take courses from any department, which makes it easier to align the degree with your career goals.”

She completed her master’s degree in 2021 and decided to continue her education at Illinois Tech in the chemical engineering Ph.D. program.

Fatima is currently participating in a six-month Moderna Research Co-op program, an opportunity for extended experiential training working directly with industry professionals.  

“I am learning all about designing and studying antigens for vaccines. This is an amazing opportunity to learn new things and see up-close how this industry operates,” she says. “Moderna is a very fast-paced environment, so as a co-op you have to be on your toes and quickly adapt and adjust. Within just five months here, I have learned and applied a lot of new skills to my projects, which will be vital in my Ph.D. research, too.”

She says she has felt welcome and supported in the CHBE department and has enjoyed connecting with international prospective students as a student ambassador for Graduate Admissions.

“This is what I always told the students I met,” she says. “The Illinois Tech community cares about you and all the other students around here. We can forever talk about academics and compare rankings, but honestly, when you are new to the country, city, or degree, you may be overwhelmed by one thing or the other. Our community gets it, and we are here to make you feel comfortable and find your place.”

Fatima’s time at Moderna is a great stepping stone for her goal to work in research and development in the pharmaceutical industry. 

“I want to work closely with drug design and process optimization,” she says. “I am passionate about contributing to a therapeutic drug, one way or another, that may save lives. Humans have an abundance of resources, and the potential we have in research is mind blowing. I would love to contribute to advancing health and therapeutics.”

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