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Professional MS Alumni Feature: Bill Duncan

bill duncan

I recently spoke with Bill Duncan to learn about his experience in the MS-MPE program and how it has impacted his career trajectory.  

Bill’s first introduction to the subject of Biomedical Engineering began with his undergraduate studies at the University of Delaware in 2017. During his junior year, he took a medical device development course that consisted of an immersive overview of medical product development. The projects within this course resulted in a high-level understanding of medical device development and fostered an interest in a deeper understanding of the industry. It was this course that ultimately led Bill to pursue an MS in Biomedical Engineering, specifically a program that centered around medical product engineering.

At the University of Pittsburgh, Bill decided to pursue a dual graduate degree in MS-MPE and an MBA with the Katz Graduate School of Business. He wanted to be able to learn more in-depth about the process of medical device development along with the business aspect of the medical device industry. During his undergraduate experience, he felt that an understanding of business concepts was missing from his educational journey and was necessary for continued growth. Bill explained, “These are fundamentally two very different areas, but both subjects are paramount to understanding the entire process of medical device development.”

One aspect of the program which Bill enjoyed was the connection with the UPMC healthcare system. Through different courses, Bill was able to interact with top physicians and clinicians who are experts in their field. Bill said, “Great opportunities came out of the different connections that I made.” By establishing these connections, he was able to utilize the diverse resources that UPMC offers such as human simulation labs, anatomy lab, and clinician shadowing experience. These are opportunities that he felt may not have occurred somewhere other than the University of Pittsburgh. He went on to say, “Something that made this program so special was the great connection with UPMC and all of the resources they have to offer.”

Coming out of his undergraduate experience, Bill had two areas of interest within Bioengineering: cardiovascular devices and biomechanics. During his time in the program, he had the opportunity to investigate his interests further in both areas. As part of the MS-MPE program, Bill was awarded the Graduate Engineering Education Scholarship (GEES). Through this scholarship, he was able to work in the Human Movement and Balance Laboratory. Bill was able to explore his interests in biomechanics as he performed research on chronic low back pain. Bill was also able to explore his cardiovascular interests by volunteering his time with the UPMC Artificial Heart Program. He advises both current and prospective students, “to try different areas. It helps you find your true interests and passion. There is always the opportunity to pivot and try something new.” He also added, “If there is something that is of interest to you, take the initiative and reach out. More often than not, whoever you contact will be willing to take you under their wing and teach you something new.” 

During the program, Bill interned with W.L. Gore & Associates in the summer of 2022. His role there entailed working on a project that was heavily centered on process improvement/optimization of quality system documentation. From his internship experience, he was offered a full-time position with the company. Recently, Bill began working with W.L. Gore & Associates in Flagstaff, Arizona as a Process Engineer supporting their Ascending Stent Graft device line. “I believe the University of Pittsburgh and the dual MS-MPE/MBA program made an impact on my career trajectory. The position I am in now would not have been possible without going to graduate school, going through the MS-MPE program, and gaining the experiences that I had. For that opportunity, I am very grateful."

Check out Bill Duncan's LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bill-j-duncan/