Elizabeth Chiu first got interested in mechanical engineering as a member of her high school, all-girls robotics team.
But it was only after she enrolled at UC Irvine that she discovered her dream job.
Chiu, 21, and now a senior UCI student, recently accepted an offer to join the R&D Released Product Engineering department for Medtronic Neurovascular in Irvine, the world’s largest neurovascular company. Medtronic had previously hired her as an intern for two consecutive summers, in addition to six months of part-time work during her junior year.
“I’m so excited that I get to work with the same team I’ve worked with over two years,” she says.
A virtuous circle for STEM grads and firms
Chiu’s lucky break – which, of course, came with lots of hard work – is a sign of the symbiosis central to Irvine’s success. The city’s many inviting attributes – including sunny weather, a farsighted Master Plan, and a world-class research university – draw leading high-tech firms, which can hire from an exceptional local talent pool of students freshly trained in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Students, in turn, benefit from the growing market in high-paying STEM jobs.
UCI was one of Chiu’s top choices for college, she says, adding, “It’s such a pretty area, and the school has a great engineering department, with lots of opportunities for internships.”
She found her internship with Medtronic through Handshake, a recruiting app, during a UCI STEM online jobs fair. The support she received as an intern and part-timer was “spectacular,” she says. “I expanded my technical writing, presentation and critical thinking skills. I also really enjoyed learning about how products are developed, expanding my statistics knowledge, and bonding with my amazing team.”
Once she graduates, Chiu will be rejoining the team that she worked with as an intern. Its focus is on improving Medtronic’s neurovascular catheters, deployed by brain surgeons in the treatment of strokes.
The work has personal resonance for Chiu, who says, “Six people in my family have had strokes.”
By the time she got to college, she realized she wanted to devote her engineering chops to advancing the technologies that help heart-disease patients. “That’s why it was so amazing to see in my inbox one day that the neurovascular team wanted to hire me.”