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Professional MS-MPE Alumni Feature: Maria Geraghty

Maria Geraghty Headshot-2

Nicole Bohatch recently had the opportunity to speak with ‘21 MS-MPE alumna Maria Geraghty to learn about her experience at Pitt and how it helped influence her career.

Maria embarked on her academic journey at Columbia University where she studied Biomedical Engineering. As she neared her senior year, anticipation for her senior design project grew. Collaborating with groups across the university, Maria joined forces with clinicians and a fashion institute, aiming to redesign high heels for better ergonomics, minimizing gait issues and foot injuries. While working on this project, Maria began to think about her post-graduation path. Many of her peers were pursuing academic careers or medical school which she knew was not for her. The suggestion of Pitt's Professional MS-MPE program from a visiting student researcher during her final semester sparked her interest in exploring opportunities that would eventually lead her to industry.   

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting career choices, Maria saw an opportunity to broaden her education. She viewed the MS-MPE program as a gateway to discovering diverse opportunities within the biomedical engineering industry. “Through my research, I felt that the MS-MPE program was a great way to learn what opportunities exist in biomedical engineering and to find my own niche in the field.” Maria began the MS-MPE program in Fall 2020. 

One of Maria’s favorite aspects of the MS-MPE program was its collaborative spirit. She was amazed at how students, clinicians, and professors were willing to work together and help each other whenever possible. “This type of network was very influential in my decision to stay in the Pittsburgh area and pursue my career here.” She felt that one of the best resources of the program were the other students within it. “Even though everyone comes from such different backgrounds, it allows for a unique opportunity to learn from each other.”    

During her time in the MS-MPE program, Maria had many opportunities to collaborate with different clinicians on various projects. One project involved collaborating with a physician who worked in an adult spina bifida clinic to develop an app for remote patient monitoring between appointments. Another project was more focused on the problem of helping alleviate foot pain experienced by surgeons who stand for long periods of time during an operation. Maria recalled the most rewarding project that she worked on involved developing a vibrating sleeve placed on a residual limb to alleviate phantom limb pain. “Through all these projects the undertone was entrepreneurship. You can understand a problem on a high level but then the focus is how you can make it possible. If a product is not going to be adopted into the health system, it is not going to go anywhere.”

Near her final semester of the MS-MPE program, Maria became aware of an internship with Innovation Works (IW). Through her experience with different projects in the program and being enrolled in an entrepreneurship class, she applied for the position. She was offered an intern position with the Life Sciences group within Innovation Works.

As the internship progressed, Maria started to take on more responsibilities. She was offered the chance to stay with the team part time while she finished the MS-MPE program before moving into a full-time position. Upon graduating from the University of Pittsburgh, she became IW’s Life Sciences Program Coordinator. She held this position for about a year before promotion to AlphaLab Health Program Manager. Throughout her time at Innovation Works, she has been on both the side of execution and planning for the accelerator program. “I really loved my undergraduate experience but there was not a lot of exposure to career paths beyond academia or medical school. Entrepreneurship was not a consideration for me until later in the MS-MPE program. It has been great to grow so much in such a short amount of time.”

Maria offered this piece of advice to current and prospective students, “I encourage students to be honest with themselves and be vulnerable. It is okay to not know exactly what company or role you want to have. If you have a desire to be in that industry you will find what you are passionate about.” 

Check out Maria’s LinkedIn here.