To finish up National Engineers Week, here is the lovely Jennifer! She and I were roommates our senior year of college and took many classes together throughout our time at WPI. Jenn is a fantastic example of the breadth of options that engineering can give you. As you read, you’ll see that she’s worked for companies where you may not expect an engineer, but I’ll let her tell you a bit more about that!
- Jennifer Castriotta
- Worcester Polytechnic Institute Class of 2008 – Mechanical Engineering
- Patent Examiner, US Patent and Trademark Office, Alexandria VA
Engineering is in my blood. I come from a long line of WPI grads including my grandfather, father, and mother. I actually bounced around a lot with what I thought I wanted to major in. I came in to college wanting to be a Physics Major, but then realized that I wanted the chance to actually build and create things, so I switched to Mechanical Engineering. One of the things I loved most about Mechanical Engineering was all the different directions you could take the major. I personally was more interested in Robotics, but I had friends who were interested in the biomedical field, Fire Protection, Aerospace, Manufacturing, and tons of other areas.
What places have you traveled while working or studying as an engineer?
When I was a Junior, for my Interdisciplinary Qualifying Project (IQP), I had the opportunity to come work in Washington DC at the Smithsonian Institute with the National Zoo. Then the summer between my Junior and Senior years, I got the chance to do my Major Qualifying Project (MQP) in Wuhan, China.
I truly loved this opportunity! While in China I had the opportunity to visit Shanghai, Beijing, and some outlying areas including The Great Wall of China.
Post graduation I traveled to Connecticut, New York, Texas, Virginia, and returned to Washington DC.
What is a fun/interesting opportunity you have had through your career as an engineer?
When I first graduated college, I worked for Frito Lay as an Operations Resource in both Maintenance and Packaging. One of the best parts about my job (besides doing Quality tests for fresh Doritos and Salt & Vinegar Lays) was that I was responsible for the production a product that every single person in America recognized. I was also given the opportunity to meet and work with the foremost experts in Potato Chip and Tortilla Chip Manufacturing. I’ll even let you in on a little secret… On every Frito Lay product bag there’s a 9 digit code that tells you a lot about the chips inside. New England Pride moment- If your bag reads #66######, the chips were made at the Killingly, CT facility!
After about three and a half years, I decided that I needed a change and took a chance with a new opportunity working at the US Patent and Trademark Office as a Patent Examiner. In my current career I get the chance to see some of the latest and greatest inventions in the country. In the last two years I have had 13 published patents with several more on the way!
I think that the thing I have enjoyed most about being an engineer is meeting other amazing female engineers and getting to learn from them. Being a female engineer is a special bond that is hard to explain to outsiders. Traditionally speaking, the world of engineering is a male dominated field. The most influential women in my life are engineers – they’re the smartest, most outgoing, driven, independent, spunky, creative, and talented people I have ever met. Women as a whole have a tendency to be underestimated, and nothing makes me happier than constantly seeing female engineers meet and far exceed people’s expectations of us!